In exploring the past of Audi one may only conclude that German PR teams are wonder markers. In less than 30 years, they launched Audi into stardom carefully transforming what Americans would consider a mediocre car producer into a premium luxury car giant. One of the gears powerfully driving the whole resurrection includes Audi wagons. Some revolutionary, some massively huge, some luxurious and some shockingly fast. I compiled a list of 7 shockingly fast Audi Wagons capable of beating supercars and straight up murdering muscle cars.
All smartly complemented with Audi quattro all wheel drive and excellent Volkswagen Group engines, these wagons proved that being a dad does not have to suck. In fact, as we subconsciously link BMW with super saloons, we definitely link Audi with super wagons. And for a good reason.
Some of the cars you are about to see here fit this list of fastest, longest, weirdest station wagons too.
1993 Audi RS2 Avant (8C)
While the story about fabulously fast Audi wagons started with the S2 Avant in 1990, I chose the Audi RS2 Avant as the first entry on the list. The reasons are plentiful, but the most obvious is the fact that Audi matched Porsche on this one. Actually, the car had been generously handed to Porsche for perfecting. We got an RS2 Avant with technology from Porsche and from a car that will become the Audi A4 B5. Speaking about ahead of its time – well here it is.
Complemented with a quattro all wheel drive, Porsche engineered Audi RS2 Avant received an updated version of the 2.2-liter turbocharged five-cylinder from the S2. The engine received a larger turbocharger, new camshaft and a number of other modifications. This improved the power from 220-ish to 311hp making the RS2 Avant one of the fastest vehicles of the time.
Quicker than McLaren F1
Sure, we are all enchanted by a sublime acceleration of GT-Rs and Tesla cars of today, but back in 1994, this Avant was something to aspire to. With 0-30 mph acceleration in 1.5 seconds, it was quicker in that regard than the McLaren F1. And even some F1 cars. Audi Torsen AWD quattro drive had a lot to do with this, of course.
Porsche returned the engine, improved suspension, used the setup from cars that are yet to be introduced and then added 911 calipers and review mirrors to the RS2 Avant. After the deal, this Audi wagon reached the levels no street Audi of before had. 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and a maximum speed of 163 mph. After all, this one could be compared only with Corvette cars and 911s of the time. Other wagons? Not so much.
If you are still trying to buy a used Audi wagon, try to land your hand on one of these. Only 2,891 were produced and as first units left the Porsche factory in 1994, you won’t be able to import it in the US before 2019. You know, because of the 25-year old regulation. If you are really impatient though, see which cool cars from 25 years ago you can import in 2018.
1996 Audi S6 Plus Avant (C4)
Sure, above is a lengthy text about the RS2 Avant because it represents the perfection of sports wagons. Actually, it may be the first proper one ever. However, Audi continued in the same madly-fast-wagon breath even for its larger cars.
Enter the 1996 Audi C4 S6 Plus Avant. As the high-end version of the S6, the S6 Plus Avant paved the way for the introduction of the first S8. They basically share the same engine. However, the 1996 Audi S6 Plus Avant was the icing on the cake of the C4 platform Audi used for the model 100 and other subsequent large sedans. Developed by quattro GmbH, the S6 Plus featured numerous improvements compared to any other version of the car built on the C4 platform. The suspension was specially adapted, brake discs enlarged to 12.3 inches, while the wheel grew to 17 inches. Not exactly something one would see often in 1996.
With a 4.2-liter V8 engine developing 322hp mated to six-speed manual transmission, the Audi S6 Plus Avant C4 was capable of accelerating to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds and reaching a top speed of 155 mph. Impressive numbers even for cars of today.
As the final and the most expensive version of the S6, the car was produced in 952 units with 855 of them being Avants. Obviously, performance Audi wagons had much better reception than sedans, which lead to the development of ever faster versions. The next car on this list was definitely the one to make Audi sports wagons famous.
2000 Audi RS4 Avant (B5)
Audi wagon RS4 Avant quattro B5 was the direct successor to the model that started it all – the RS2 Avant. As the first one, it was only available in Avant form and was introduced in 1999. The Audi RS4 Avant quattro managed to capture the supple madness of the original by gaining a newly tuned 2.7-liter bi-turbo V6 and a manual transmission. However, changes compared with the A4 and S4 were numerous. So much so, that the car received wider axles, new brakes, new suspension, 18-inch wheels and new design. At least, a new design of bumpers, fenders (now wider of course) and other aero elements.
The Audi RS4 Avant B5 finally gave high-performance thrills to thousands of people. They produced just over 6,000 units making the RS4 Avant B5 a bit more accessible than what was the case with the previous iterations of the high-performance Audi wagons.
Brits crafted the engine
Retuning the 2.7-liter bi-turbo V6 (a less powerful version of the same engine landed in the S4 before) Cosworth technologies from the UK (who developed and produced the engine) managed to squeeze 375hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Remember, this was the time when the Ferrari 360 Modena had a 400hp engine. Unlike the Modena, however, Audi surged forward thanks to a quattro AWD system linked with a six-speed manual.
Although more powerful compared with the RS2 Avant, the RS4 Avant B5 had a lot more heft to it. Nevertheless, the acceleration to 62 mph was at 4.9 seconds with an electronically governed top speed of 163 mph.
2008 Audi RS6 Avant (C6)
With high-performance Audi wagons getting highly acclaimed in the circles of gearheads, car journalists and auto enthusiasts altogether, the company decided to go all mad. After the success with the S and the RS models throughout the first half of the 2000s, they decided that the next logical step is to put a Lamborghini engine in a sedan. After all, the V10 M5 was out and it was better than ever. How to compete? Of course, with one of the ballsiest cars ever – the 2008 Audi RS6 Avant C6. The sedan was available too, but c’mon, a wagon with a Lamborghini engine. Madness.
Ok, the engine had 400 unique parts compared with the one in the Gallardo, but still, it was based on it. With five liters of capacity, 10 cylinders in V configuration and bi-turbo setup, the RS6 V10 engine was, apparently, the first all-aluminum even firing engine in the world. Yes, this translates to sublime, refined sound (although not as enchanting as that BMW V10 as you can hear here). Sound aside, bi-turbo V10 develops 571hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Again, Audi has been doing supercar-high power outputs of the engines destined for its sport wagons. Same story as in the Nineties when it all started.
Sure, all the power, suspension upgrades, brake upgrades and chassis advancements had to be followed up with latest in terms of driving aids. Back then, the car probably was the most advanced Audi on the road.
Audi produced 8,000 units of it with 6,500 of them being Avants. Not one of which actually reached the US as Wagons, in general, became unpopular. What did Americans miss?
Well, you missed an Audi wagon with a Lamborghini V10 capable of doing 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and 170 mph (electronically limited, of course).
2014 Audi RS4 Avant Nogaro
I could land a picture of the standard Audi RS4 Avant B8, here but this is way cooler. Back in 2014, 20 years after Audi reinvented the segment of sports wagons with the RS2 Avant, the Germans revealed the 2014 RS4 Avant Nogaro. As a tribute model, the Audi RS4 Avant Nogaro featured special throwback Nogaro Blue finish, black grille, oval rear exhausts and fabulous blue touches on the inside. Not exactly an overkill tributing one of the most famous models company ever produced, but that is how chose to do it.
Now, the car was not mechanically changed at all compared with the RS4 Avant already on offer. This means that it featured a fine 4.2 liter V8 with 444 hp, quattro AWD, Dynamic Steering system, sport differential and exceptional exhaust sound. It is the last of the naturally aspirated RS models. After this one, Audi replaced the V8 with a new, turbocharged six-cylinder. In that regard, the Audi RS4 Avant B8 is somewhat of a swan song moment for the naturally aspirated units in RennSport (RS) offer.
As is the case with other models, this one too has a top speed electronic limiter set at 155 mph. However, depending on how much buyers were willing to pay, Audi offered to move the limiter to 174mph, or 189mph. Imagine saying this to a friend: “My wagon has a top speed limiter set to 189 mph.”
As for the acceleration, naturally aspirated V8 can move the RS4 Avant to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds.
2018 Audi RS4 Avant (B9)
For the past five or so years, Audi quattro GmbH division, who produce their high-performance models, have been reinventing the business. They changed the name to Audi Sport GmbH in 2016 and outdated all the naturally-aspirated engines Audi had been installing in the top trier cars. Many eagerly awaited for the latest Audi RS4 Avant, as it has a new turbocharged engine and it may come to the US. Former happened, latter did not.
So, what are Americans really missing here?
Same as before with the RS4. Yet, the 2.9-liter TFSI engine develops 442.5 lb-ft of torque, a massive improvement over the 317 lb-ft of torque of the NA unit of before. And this is important. Especially considering the car weighs almost 200 lbs less compared to the previous car. With less weight, eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, this much power, sports rear differential, quattro AWD and trickery as Audi Drive select options, the latest Audi RS4 Avant B9 is capable of reaching 62 mph in 4.1 seconds.
Bear in mind that we are talking about an Audi wagon. A car that can tow your boat (or anything up to 4,629.7 lbs) and your kids from the East Coast to the West Coast in great comfort and fashion.
Interestingly, the new engine seems to be a bit of a tribute to the one used in the B5 RS4. Audi notes:
“The 2.9 TFSI V6 twin turbo engine from Audi Sport is a nod to the legendary 2.7 liter V6 from the first RS4 Avant. Produced from 1999 to 2001, it delivered 279 kW (380 hp).”
Just how serious a car like this has become is best shown by the fact that Audi Sport can fit it with carbon-ceramic brakes, even more hardcore suspension setup, 20-inch wheels and a ton of luxury stuff. All included, with the limiter moved higher than 155mph of course, this sport wagon gem will accelerate all the way to 174 mph.
2017 Audi RS6 Avant Performance (C7)
This is the king. It has to be. The most outstanding Audi wagon is the RS6 Avant Performance. Revealed in 2016, the car became something of a highway slayer, with its hyped up four liter twin-turbocharged V8. Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking here at an Audi wagon powered by a freaking 605hp engine. 553 lb-ft of torque too. While the engine is a modern masterpiece of efficiency, I am more interested in all the madness it can give to a creature called the RS6 Avant Performance.
No wonder the car gained massive 15.4-inch brakes (which can be carbon ceramic), a special mode for turning off all the stability system modes and all the performance interior and exterior trim imaginable. Heck, it looks astounding. And it goes as impressive.
The Audi RS6 Avant’s performance matches that of some supercars. This car will do 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. It will do 0-124 mph in 12.1 seconds and, with a dynamic package selected, the Audi wagon RS6 won’t give up until 190 mph.
It is a freaking wagon for crying out loud.