25 years ago, the first Audi RS model was launched on the market in the form of the Audi RS 2 Avant, marking the beginning of a success story. With their proximity to motor racing and their exclusiveness, the Audi RS models have always held a particular fascination. To date, Audi Sport GmbH, formerly quattro GmbH, has presented a total of 25 RS models. In 2019, six further product innovations are being presented, of which two are completely new RS models.
At Audi, the designation “RS” stands for a philosophy that is driven by a quest for top performance and perfection. “Every RS model expresses the passion that we put into developing our high-performance cars,” said Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “For 25 years, our customers have been experiencing the RS models as masterful companions for everyday life that convey pure emotion and maximum driving enjoyment.”
The RS models have been making a splash for a quarter of a century – five milestones merit particular mention.
In 1994, the Audi RS 2 Avant (232 kW/315 metric horsepower) with its four-valve, five-cylinder engine, long since in use, wrote the first chapter of the RS story. With this car, the company established the segment of the dynamic high-performance station wagons. The quattro drive with its self-locking center differential that had proven itself in motor racing and rallying made it possible to masterfully transfer this high performance to the road.
In 1999, the Audi RS 4 Avant based on the S4 of the time introduced a new dimension in terms of power to the medium-size class. Under the hood, a V6 engine with displacement of 2.7 liters, five valves per cylinder and biturbo charging does all the work – just like in the S4. The engineers at what was then quattro GmbH developed the power unit, which was already very powerful, to give it even more vibrancy and even higher torque for use in the RS 4.
In collaboration with Cosworth Technology, the cylinder head was newly developed, the intake and exhaust ports were revised and the cross section of the air ducts were enlarged on the suction and compression sides. Furthermore, the turbochargers are larger and the boost pressure is increased compared with the S4. As a result, the RS 4 engine develops maximum power of 280 kW (380 metric horsepower) instead of 195 kW (265 metric horsepower).
The second generation of the RS 4 followed in 2005. Numerous innovations, many of which originated in motorsports, characterize this generation. A standout among these was the V8 engine with 309 kW (420 metric horsepower). It was the first time that a manufacturer had relied on the combination of gasoline direct injection and a high-rev concept that allowed up to 8,250 rpm. The gasoline direct injection engine enabled improved power output through more effective production of the fuel/air mixture. In the R8, which enjoyed success at Le Mans, the FSI technology had already proven its performance in impressive style.
In 2007, the engine was also used in the first generation of the Audi R8. The suspension offered the latest generation of permanent all-wheel drive as well as the Dynamic Ride Control damper system that was first used in 2002 in the RS 6. With its asymmetric dynamic torque distribution in the ratio of 40 percent front to 60 percent rear, the refined quattro drive with self-locking center differential ensured optimum traction. The first and, to date, only RS 4 Cabriolet provided open-top driving pleasure with the background music of the sonorous V8 aspirated engine.
2008 saw the arrival of the RS 6 Avant, a sports car in the form of an unobtrusive business station wagon. With a completely newly developed V10 engine with FSI direct injection, biturbo charging, dry sump lubrication like in motorsports as well as the quattro permanent all-wheel drive, the RS 6 Avant put itself ahead of the competition. With the impressive V10 force complete with 426 kW (580 metric horsepower) of power and 650 Nm (479.4 lb-ft) of torque, the RS 6 Avant was the most powerful series production Audi to date. The crankcase of the V10 power unit was made in a low-pressure chill casting process from an aluminum alloy – a high-tech material that combines low weight with high strength.
The cylinder liners of the connected crankcase were mechanically exposed, with the result that the entire engine weighed only 278 kilograms (612.9 lb). In order to meet the most exacting demands in terms of vehicle dynamics at the same time, the engine’s oil circuit was developed with dry sump lubrication, which was tried and tested in motorsports. The external oil container and the oil pump module, which operates with numerous suction stages, ensured that all engine components and the two turbochargers were lubricated at all times. Today, this high-performance technology is used in the Audi R8 (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km*: 13.1–12.9 [18.0–18.2 US mpg]; combined CO2 emissions in g/km*: 297–293 [478.0–471.5 g/mi]).
In 2011, RS 3 Sportback with 250 kW (340 metric horsepower), which in turn had a five-cylinder engine, brought the RS philosophy to the compact class. In 2013, the RS Q3 opened up another market segment as the first compact SUV. It was powered by the transversely installed 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, as used in the TT RS and RS 3. At less than 50 centimeters (19.7 in) long, the engine was very compact. This made the long-stroke engine (bore x stroke 82.5 x 92.8 millimeters [3.2 x 3.7 in]) perfect for transverse installation. Initially, it produced 228 kW (310 metric horsepower), but this increased to 250 kW (340 metric horsepower) from late 2014. The RS Q3 performance that followed in 2016 even reached 270 kW (367 metric horsepower)