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All About the Audi S2 Coupe

The author is a car enthusiast who loves to sing Audi's praises to readers!

A formidable sight in anyone's rearview mirror.

A formidable sight in anyone's rearview mirror.

A Modern-Day Classic

Throughout my years, I have been lucky enough to own many desirable cars, but none that bring back such fond memories as the Audi S2 Coupe. With its 20-valve, five-cylinder, turbocharged engine and the Quattro four-wheel-drive system, this really was a 'wolf in sheep's clothing.'

Easily rivaling the modern waves of Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evos, I would openly class this car in the same league as the Ford Escort Cosworth (except, of course, this German powerhouse was built with class in mind to go along with its rallying pedigree).

With 220 horsepower as standard at its disposal, a tiny blip of the accelerator pedal resulted in the occupants being heavily planted into the Recaro-style seats as this beast's immense four-wheel-drive system gripped whatever road surface you happened to be driving on and surged forward. The noise from the external wastegate letting out a pleasing "whoosh" and the faint chatter of the turbo forcing extra air into the firing chambers never got old and left the driver grinning from ear to ear like a schoolboy being taken out in his childhood dream car for the first time.

The beauty of the S2 was that it was identical to the standard coupe externally, the only obvious addition was the small 'S' badge fitted to the front grill and the boot lit. This meant most other road users had no idea what was lurking under the bonnet and in its time (the early-to-mid 1990s) there was very little else on the road that could match the acceleration or handling of such a rally-bred road car.

This brings me on to the handling. The S2 is a heavy car in its class so one might expect it to handle similar to a boat through the corners. One would be wrong, very wrong! The S2 handles like a house fly, it can be shifted from one sharp bend to another with poise and grip that even nowadays one would struggle to falter. The Quattro system is almost too good, it gives you a false sense of invincibility so one keeps pushing until finally the laws of physics kick in and it lets go. This is a bad place to be, in order to reach the S2's limits the chances are you will be going extremely quick (otherwise it would just grip and go where it had been aimed) and unfortunately, this is why there are so few of these classics left today. The only way to crash one is to be going ludicrously fast and if and when that happens, it will unlikely end in a cheap repair job!

The beauty of the S2 is that the 0-60 time (just under 6 seconds) can be achieved on pretty much any surface. Wet or day, gravel or concrete the S2 just squats the backend down and takes off. Wheelspin is harder to achieve than actually pushing this car hard enough for it to let go.

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Later models came with the slightly more powerful 'ABY' engine producing 230 bhp and a six-speed gearbox. Many claim this is the model to buy, but the difference in performance is something I could never find the five-speed gearbox allowed the driver to reach 60 without having to change into 3rd gear and for me, it was (and still is) all about the acceleration rather than top speed.

Living with the S2 is also a pleasant experience. The interior is suave for its age, and the three-spoke steering wheel sporting the 'S' badge reminds you that at any given moment a smooth-riding family car can erupt into a fuel-guzzling beast.

There is very little to criticize. The only fault I could find while owning this classic for eight years, was the fuel consumption when my right foot became heavy. Unfortunately for my wallet, this happened the majority of the time due to the noise of that engine and the pure joy this car brings when being used in the manner it was built for.

Few of these cars are still on the roads these days, and their value is now steadily increasing if you are lucky enough to find a good example. A word of warning though, if you are looking to invest in one of these do your research beforehand. The S2 is not a car one buys just because they like the look of it, you need to know what you are buying and realize that parts (should you be unlucky enough to require repairs) do not come cheaply.

On a finishing note, take a look at some of the old rallying videos showing the Audi Quattro S1 (the S2's older brother), this will give you a real feel for the pedigree this car has derived from. Enter into Youtube's search bar any phrase including 'group B rally' and the result will contain footage that has never been rivaled since the class was banned for being 'too fast to race' back in the late 1980s. Back then the rules in which a car manufacturer could enter a rally were much more lenient allowing them to breed undescribably powerful cars well before the days of traction control and the electronics, brakes, and computer-assisted wizardry existed to help deal with such power. These were the days when drivers really were drivers.

This is my beloved Audi S2!

This is my beloved Audi S2!

Facts and Figures

  • Manufactured and sold: 1991-1995
  • Engine: 2.2 litre (2226 cc) 20 valve 5 cylinder turbo
  • Gearbox: Manual five-speed
  • Acceleration 0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
  • Maximum speed: 147 mph
  • Standing quarter-mile: 14.5 seconds
  • Drive: Permanent four-wheel drive
The 3B engine bay of my Audi S2

The 3B engine bay of my Audi S2

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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