The making of a classic

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Friday, February 01, 2019

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German has always been known for their fast sedans. Called Q-cars for their understated performance, these fast, four-door rockets have been common on the country's Autobahn for decades, causing much trouble for what are considered true sports cars. Then in 1994 Audi invented, or many say perfected the Q-wagon, with the RS2 Avant.

Co-developed with sister company Porsche, they took the humble Audi 80 five seat, five-door station wagon turning it into the brand's first RS badged vehicle while creating a legend in the process. No longer was performance limited to the amount of doors or shape of a vehicle. With the RS2 Avant one had the space and practicality of station wagon, but the speed and handling of a hardcore sports car that used its 311bhp five-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive to hit 60mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 166mph. Serious numbers in 1994 for even a race car much less a family vehicle.

Flash forward five years and Audi cemented the category of the fast wagon with the B5 generation RS4 Avant in 1991. As the original RS2 Avant was a limited-edition vehicle, this meant the RS4 was the easiest version Audi collector Donald Ellis could get his hands on, and even then it wasn't simple.

“The B5 generation of the Audi A4 to me has always been iconic. I have always loved the shape, especially the station wagon RS4, particularly because of its stance with the widened wheel arches, side vents in the front bumper and more so because it was the main production line version of a limited production run collaboration between Porsche and Audi, the RS2,” Ellis told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Until recently, the closest he'd gotten was his own S4 Quattro which is the sedan version. Scouring the Internet he finally managed to pick up a pristine red 2001 Audi RS4 Avant.

“About eight or nine years ago I was able to purchase a 2000 Audi S4 locally, figuring it would be as close as I would get to my dream. I took my time doing conservative modifications and enhancing the aesthetics of it. A few years ago I was exposed to the Jamaica Classic Car Club and realised that I could actually import my dream car even though it was so old and the rest is history,” he said.

The RS4 by itself is potent. As the second generation of Audi's flagship fast wagons, they'd learned from the previous model and refined the formula that continues to this day, powerful engine, tenacious grip, and luxury interior. Gone was the in-line five, replaced by a 375bhp twin-turbo V6 sending power through the automotive holy grail, a six-speed manual transmission, to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro system. The ferocious acceleration sees 60mph arrive in 4.9 seconds and the RS4 Avant had to be reined electronically at 162mph.

“If there is one thing I love about it is the smooth delivery of power. It's hard to believe that 18 years ago Audi was producing cars of such calibre. It rivals any modern-day sports car. Power is on tap with smooth, effortless delivery, it's quite nimble with superb handling and it stops on a dime. It's also very comfortable.”

Ellis further lucked out as his used example was breathed upon by German tuners MTM in the hands of the previous owner. However, he added his own touch to the car with six-piston brake calipers on the front, intake and exhaust upgrades, with the largest intercoolers for the turbochargers he could fit behind the stock bumper.

“That's it. I'm all done in terms of modifications.”

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