The List




Future Classics 

Audi RS2

Car designers have come up with some odd hybrids over the years: there was the shotgun marriage of SUV and sports car that gave us the BMW X6, the saloon and supercar amalgam that is the Porsche Panamera, and the coming together of lawnmower and wheelbarrow that produced the Reliant Robin. Not a particularly inspiring list, we think you'd agree.

However, there is one genre-merging car that it is cool to admit to liking, and which, we believe, will appreciate significantly in value over the next ten years - the Audi RS2 - which brought together the two previously diametrically opposed qualities of estate car practicality and sports car performance.

Produced in partnership with Porsche during the mid 1990s, the RS2 took the rather staid 80 Avant body and added a modified version of the 20 valve 5 cylinder engine last seen in the Ur Quattro, Porsche-developed brakes and suspension, and some subtle tweaks to the bodywork to produce a more aggressive silhouette.

The result was a car that, with 311bhp and Audi's Quattro four wheel drive system, could hit 30 mph faster than a McLaren F1 road car, and reach 60 mph in a very respectable 4.8 seconds. Not bad for a machine that can also transport a dozing labrador and five adults in comfort.

Driving an RS2 today requires little readjustment for those used to more modern machinery: there's air conditioning, power steering and ABS, and, although turbo lag is in evidence at low revs, once beyond 3,500 rpm the engine delivers enough torque to see the large estate launch forward with incongruous speed, all four wheels scrabbling for traction in the lower gears. There's certainly enough pace to keep an E46 M3 or Impreza WRX Sti at bay - at least in a straight line.

Like most Audis the RS2 has its engine slung out ahead of the front wheels, resulting in a very front biased weight distribution. This gives the car a noticeably nose-heavy disposition, with understeer being the prevailing characteristic when the limits are breached, but, as these limits are fairly high, this is not something that will trouble you outside of a trackday.

The track is not really the Audi's natural habitat, though; it is far more at home on fast sweeping A roads and derestricted Autobahns, where it feels stable and confidence inspiring well in to triple figure speeds.

The brakes, which can often be a weak point on German super saloons (hold your head in shame, BMW) are as good as you would expect from a system lifted from Porsche's iconic 968 Club Sport. 304 mm front discs and 299mm rear discs are clamped by 4 piston callipers, providing strong, fade free performance even after repeated stops from high speed. We wouldn't recommend testing their performance when using the Audi's load lugging capabilities, though, as you might find a flying labrador heading rapidly towards the back of your seat.

Image-wise, the RS2 manages to avoid the usual trap of falling into the unloved area betwixt modern and classic, primarily because its shape, together with the visual tweaks used to give it a more muscular appearance than its stablemates when new, make it appear more contemporary than some of its peers from the 1990s. Add in the fact that fewer than 3000 cars were ever produced (with only 180 in right hand drive) and you have a very rare and desirable car.

This rarity has kept used values high - 10,000 seems to be the absolute minimum currently, and you can easily double that for an immaculate example. Although this might seem expensive compared to, say, a mid-90s M5, we believe that the Porsche connection and the relatively small numbers of RS2s produced will ultimately result in their value appreciating significantly over the next ten years. This means that you should be able to buy one today, make full use of it (and RS2s are nothing if not practical mile eaters), and sell on, should you wish, at a profit some years down the line. There are few other cars that we can think of for which the same could be said.