What does 25 years of tuning fast Audi wagons look like?

By topgear, 08 May 2019

Happy 25th birthday, Abt Sportsline. Or rather, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.

Since 1994, the German tuners have been fettling fast VWs and Audis into giant-killers with space for all the family, the dog, and the dog’s bed. And to celebrate that noble endeavour staying well and truly in fashion, Abt has organised a little family reunion.


Here we have a 1992 Audi RS2 Avant. If you don’t know the fascinating history of Audi’s first performance estate car, it was created with a little help from Porsche. It’s a bona fide everyday supercar legend.


Already capable of nutty performance thanks to a 315bhp five-cylinder engine, Abt set about turning the wick up in 1994. In went a new turbo, a stainless steel exhaust, and an adjusted camshaft. The result was 360bhp – at a time when Ferrari’s latest supercar, the F355, mustered 375bhp. The Abt RS2 was a monstrously powerful car – and yet also a subtle one.


Just look at it, posed next to Abt’s latest tuned RS4, the cannily titled ‘RS4+’. The grilles look teeny. The expression of the face is friendly, not furious. And it’s so small! Almost, dare we say it, cute?


Headlight tech has moved on a bit too. Candle-in-a-jam-jar halogens, meet modern Matrix LEDs. The new RS4+ has also had a ruddy good seeing too with the carbon fibre fairy. Carbon fibre was basically witchcraft in the early Nineties. Who could have foreseen it being speared over bumpers and around cupholders?


Ah yes, speaking of interiors. Here’s a look inside Abt’s latest RS4. There are more pixels than metres of red stitching. More carbon than a coal mine. The seat will hold onto your love handles like a wedding conga. Seriously, we can do clichés like this all day, people.


Whereas back in the world of 1994, everything’s a little more… analogue. And plastic.

Beautifully simple, mind. Audi’s reputation for strong build quality inside was already taking hold with the RS2. Anyone got a clue what that funny little lever between the seats is for?


Under the bonnet, the new RS4’s bi-turbo V6 is already good for 444bhp. But thanks to a new water cooler, air intake, muffler and an ECU revamp, this is upped to 510bhp. Meanwhile, a quartet of wider exhausts uncork some much-needed bark.


Whereas the old car would be good for 0-100kph in four-point-something, the new Abt RS4+ is in the low 3s for the classic 0-100kph sprint. Part of that is due to its near-seamless dual-clutch gearbox.


But speed isn’t everything, is it? Funny how the Abt RS2, once one of the craziest family cars on Earth, now looks quaint, and is out-powered by a standard Audi RS3 hatchback.


Makes you wonder where Abt Sportline will be in another 25 years…