All-wheel drive and turbocharged five-cylinder power have been key features in many of Audi’s greatest performance cars over the years, including the original 1980 Quattro coupe and the 1990s RS2 wagon. But which of the old timers is fastest?
Carwow attempted to answer that question by assembling a drag race lineup consisting of five old-school turbocharged, five-cylinder, four-ring greats. Theoretically, the weakest of the bunch is one of the later original-shape Quattro coupes with the 20-valve 2.1-liter engine making 217 hp (220 PS). That’s joined by a pair of short-wheelbase versions of the same car: a genuine Group B rally machine currently running around 493 hp (500 PS), and the 302 hp (306 PS) Sport Quattro road car that was produced in small numbers to homologate it.
Representing the 1990s are an S2 coupe, which sends 227 hp (230 PS) through its six gears, and the Porsche-fettled RS2 wagon that has a huge on-paper advantage thanks to its 311 hp (315 PS) development of the same basic powertrain, although it does carry a 154 lbs (70 kg) weight penalty.
The bummer with this test is that the RS2 appears to be making around 40 percent less power than it’s supposed to, judging by its 16.6-second quarter mile time. Okay, so it gets a terrible launch in both races, but the way it fails to claw back any ground on its S2 little brother despite supposedly packing 84 hp (85 PS) more is a clear indicator that someone at Audi Heritage needs to take a look under the hood of its externally perfect example.
But there’s still enough going on in the video to make it worth a watch, including watching the two short-wheelbase cars overcome their turbo lag to swallow the others up, or in the case of the rally version, disappear into the distance. If you were ever tempted to think the Group B because was just a road version minus the seats and carpet, this film will help disabuse you of the notion. And there’s a fun battle going on between the 20-valve Quattro and the slightly more powerful and more aerodynamic, but also heavier, S2 coupe that replaced it.
Moreover, if you’re wondering how a new 2022 S3 Sedan would have fared against the Group B rally car, well Carwow also conducted that particular experiment for us a few weeks back. As you can see below, it was one tight battle.