What Does RS Stand For On A Car?

As any car enthusiast will be aware, there are many different cars that carry various badges.

These badges are used to denote different trim and performance variants.

While the “average Joe” might not care for the difference, for those passionate about cars we tend to have a desire to know what each and every badge means!

In previous editions of Car Facts we’ve looked at the meaning of both GTI and GT when it comes to cars.

But what does RS stand for on a car? In this short edition of Car Facts we take a look at the term “RS” and its meaning in the automotive industry.

What Does RS Mean?

RS generally stands for “Rally Sport”.

On some cars, it is believed to stand for “Racing Sport”, but “Rally Sport” is the most widely accepted usage.

Examples of RS vehicles that have credible rally heritage/pedigree include the Ford Escort RS2000, Subaru Legacy RS/RS-B, Mitsubishi Evo IV RS and Audi RS2.

All three of these examples either had their origins as successful rally cars (in the case of the Ford, Mitsubishi, and Subaru) or came from a manufacturer with excellent rally credentials (Audi revolutionized rallying in the 1980s with the development of their Quattro system, so have every right to use the “Rally Sport” name!)

Ford Escort Rs2000 – one of the most legendary vehicles ever to wear the RS badge

What Does RS Mean For Porsche?

If RS stands for Rally Sport, then what on earth are RS badges doing adorning some of Porsche’s most successful and desirable vehicles?

Although Porsche has actually had some experience over the years with rallying (particularly with the 911) Porsche’s RS badge actually means something different.

A Porsche GT3 RS

As we mentioned earlier, some manufacturers use the RS term to denote “Racing Sport” or something similar.

On Porsche cars, RS stands for “Rennsport”, which is German for racing/motor racing.

Therefore, RS Porsches are generally the “race reps” (as opposed to “rally reps”) of any given Porsche model.

As you can see, RS has a different meaning for Porsche than for many other manufacturers.

Porsche has done quite well in recent years with rallying the GT3 RS, however. So maybe there is an element of “Rally Sport” in there as well!

Not what you’d generally expect from a rally car – but we will take it!

What Does RS Mean On A Camaro?

We’ve seen a few people asking what RS means on Camaros specifically.

As you might be aware, Chevrolet and Camaros don’t exactly have a great rally reputation or heritage, at least in terms of “off road” rallying as we think of it in Europe and Australasia.

However, starting with the first generation Camaro there have been various “Rally Sport” models, such as this beauty:

Original Camaro RS

It could be that Rally Sport in the Camaro context refers to the more American usage of the term rally, which can mean vehicle meet ups that involve parades, car showing, drag races etc.

The Sturgis Camaro rally

If you have more insight into why Chevrolet started using the term “Rally Sport” for the Camaro back in the 1960s (and continue to use it) then we would love to hear from you!

Conclusion – What Does RS Stand For?

To recap, RS on cars generally stands for Rally Sport, denoting vehicles that are either homologated “rally reps” or performance variants that have credible rally heritage.

Subaru Legacy RS showing its true rally form!

RS can also stand for “Racing Sport” (or words to that effect).

In the case of Porsche, RS stands for “Rennsport” which translates to “racing/motor racing”.

Much as with GT and GTI badges, RS has also come to be used by manufacturers as a “generic” term to denote higher performance and/or superior trim vehicle variants. Various vehicles in their respective lineups over the years have carried the “RS” badge despite not being intended for rally or road race usage.

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