On the heels of my article about the Geneva Auto Show and Audi's lineup of cars that most likely will not see U.S. shores, I decided to take a quick look at this phenomenon. Audi has held back certain cars from the U.S. for decades and they aren't the only manufacturer to do so. I can understand some options not being offered based upon American tastes. For instance, traditionally, most Americans wouldn't be interested in the very smallest engine offerings, which are designed for Europeans paying high gas prices. Avants (wagons) have also not typically done well stateside.
But when the cars are high-horsepower halo cars, Audi's stinginess doesn't make as much sense and starts to feel a little...mean. Here are five that Audi kept to themselves:
1. Quattro 20V - Audi did send us the original Quattro (or UrQuattro), but while Europeans enjoyed 200 hp of turbocharged power, the U.S version of the engine, saddled with emission controls, was detuned to a misery 160 hp. With a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, this legendary car with its revolutionary quattro awd system, flared fenders, and world-beating rally heritage, absolutely, positively, cannot even keep up with a new Kia Forte SX. Oh dear. The UrQuattro eventually got the much more advanced 20V engine, making some 217 hp, but Audi couldn't be bothered to send that one to the states at all.
2. S2 - The S2 was the first of Audi’s line of sporty S-Cars and was the fastest production Audi at the time with a factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds.The S2 had a five-cylinder, 20-valve turbo motor rated at 220 hp (later bumped to 230 hp). The S2 was available as a coupe, a sedan, and an Avant. Audi did send the 90 sedan and the handsome Coupe Quattro bodies to the U.S., but again with bland engines making only 164 hp.
3. RS2 - The first Audi to wear an RS badge, the RS2 is an S2 Avant (see above) sent to Porsche finishing school. To meet dress code requirements, the Audi borrowed the wheels, side mirrors, fog lights, and side markers from the Porsche 911 (993). Then the Porsche engineers opened the hood and supersized everything they could. The RS2 got a bigger turbo, bigger intercooler, bigger fuel injectors, and a bigger exhaust manifold. By the time they had engraved "Powered by Porsche" into the new intake manifold, they had raised peak horsepower from 230 to 315, which was more than anything they had in their own stable. One magazine ripped a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds...in 1994! For some Audi fans (myself included), this is the coolest car that Audi has ever produced.
4. RS6 - The first generation (C5) RS6, was the first Audi sent to the U.S. with an RS designation. But when its more powerful successor was ready, Audi revoked its passport. Apparently, the home of the Los Angeles class nuclear submarine and the Saturn V rocket, was not ready for the most powerful car Audi has ever built. The (C6) RS6 is equipped with an all-aluminum, 5.0 liter V10 biturbo, which develops 571 hp and 479 lb-ft of tarmac-buckling torque. With its ability to cover great distances quickly and comfortably, this ground-based Gulfstream alternative allows executive travelers to embrace their fear of flying...across Europe.
5. TTRS - Another in the long list of RS models not sent to the U.S. is the TTRS, which is special because unlike some RS models, which have uprated versions of the same engines found in their lesser S model variants, the TTRS has a completely different engine, not found in any other Audi. The TTRS is the first Audi in over a decade sporting a five cylinder engine! Sure, the engine came out of a Jetta and is turned the wrong way, the car is made in Hungary instead of Germany, and some think that the Haldex AWD system isn't "real" quattro. No matter, because the 2.5 liter, turbocharged engine is good for 335 hp and a 0-60 sprint that is as quick as an R8. Jason Plato, of the BBC's Fifth Gear, says that the TTRS is better than a Porsche Cayman. I wish I had the chance to find out if he is right. Breaking News: a limited number of the TTRS is set to be imported into Canada. Now, what have I done with my passport?
I left a lot off the list: the A2, early versions of the A3/S3, the new S3, the first RS4, and the S6 Plus. What car do you wish Audi had sent over? Let me know in the comments.