It may be hard to say exactly when the letters ‘RS’ on the rump of an Audi stopped identifying the German firm’s particular performance machine of the moment and started distinguishing a model in a performance sub-brand – but it plainly happened some time ago.
But that’s also the simplistic answer because, for another decade after that point, the Audi factory tuning house formerly known as Quattro GmbH was very careful never to have more than one RS on sale at a time.
Buyers could trade one in against the next and production could be handled in-house by the outfit that has since changed its handle to Audi Sport.
The trigger for change was the original TT RS of 2009, which became the first Audi RS to be built entirely away from Audi Sport’s Neckarsulm premises.
By 2012, there were no fewer than five RS cars in simultaneous production. The RS brand as we now know it was born and at its bottom rung was the original RS3 Sportback mega-hatch.