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Three Audi Quattro in a driving report: which Quattro is the best?

Hardy Mutschler
Three Audi Quattro in a driving report
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Nobody thought the Audi Quattro was nice

Admittedly, a A udi Quattro was never said to be beautiful, back in March 1980, when a diamond-silver Quattro with forged Fuchs wheels was the sansation in Geneva, the trade press invented the craziest Superlatives for the all-wheel drive Audi. But nobody thought he was beautiful. Even head of design Harmut Warkuß felt compelled to find almost apologetic words for his product: “What we wanted to symbolize visually was a car that cannot blow a storm. It should look a bit rough and not be a chi-chi car. It shouldn't focus on elegance, but rather on its ability. ”

Warkuß has undoubtedly succeeded in doing this. Even the daintyest of the Quattro family, the original model from 1980, stands broad and sturdy on its six-inch models, which are equipped with tires in the modest 205 format. A bit like an Eastern European sprinter from the anabolic steroids era. No, that a storm could blow this car down, it really doesn't look like that.

In rallies you can also win with a drag coefficient of 0.4

But the time was gone gracious with the Warkuss corners and edges. The Urquattro has become a small car. Just 4,404 millimeters long and 1,723 millimeters wide, despite the bulbous fenders. Far from being sucked in by the wind, the Audi Coupé seems much more antiquated today than it is at 30 years of age. After all, just two years after the Quattro presentation, the Audi 100 Type 44 indicated the direction in which the design journey would take over the next few decades.

In any case, a drag coefficient of 0.4, which was almost shameful at the time, was not an obstacle for rally wins. And the angularity has its advantages today: the body is exemplary, the bonnet can be seen from the driver's seat, and you sit relaxed and upright. Compared to the dim caves of many modern sports cars, the Audi interior appears spacious and flooded with light, like the winter garden of a Bauhaus villa. Only the interior design can cause irritation for newcomers who take a seat in the Urquattro unprepared. Instruments and controls come from the Audi80 and are cast from sad brown plastic.

Fun factor zebra tours - and 200 PS

The so-called zebra route, with which not only the chairs, but also the door panels and headliner are wallpapered, could have come from the Elvis Presley's Jungle Room in Graceland. Only two green lights and two inconspicuous little levers, which are mounted where the heating controls on the Beetle and 911 are, remind us that this Audi is something very special. They do not operate air flaps in heating bulbs, but locks, and the Quattro has two of them. One in the center differential behind the gearbox, the other on the rear axle. You only need both when you can't go any further in the snow or when you really press on gravel.

For normal everyday life, it is enough to turn the Audi key and dig for the right gear in the not particularly precise transmission. What then happens is far more impressive than the technical data suggests. 200 hp is not much in a modern car, and every better diesel station wagon can lift more than 285 Newton meters. But the way the Urquattro starts when the boost pressure rises near the 1.0 bar mark and the five-cylinder starts hissing is still as impressive as it was 30 years ago. Only the pronounced turbo lag below 3500 revs requires some getting used to. You see yourself trying to brake with your left, rally driver-style, to keep the turbine under steam with your accelerator. You don't have to deal with such problems in the Sport Quattro.

There, a solid step on the accelerator pedal at any speed between 1,500 and 7,200 revolutions in any gear is enough to unleash far more power than you would need right now. The short Quattro feels at least 100 hp more than the officially certified 306. The special thing about the Audi, however, is the fine metering of the potential. The four-valve engine reacts to every millimeter command on the accelerator pedal, corners can be passed at almost any speed. And the brakes bite so sensitively and emphatically that one wonders where the progress of the last twenty years should actually lie. Of course, the Sport Quattro is no ordinary Audi from 1984.

The Sport Quattro is the street version of the rally car

Exactly 224 units were built, and only because they sold at least 200 had to build in order to be able to homologate the short rally quattro in Group B. Because after the competition in the World Rally Championship followed suit with their own four-wheel drive cars, the original quattro turned out to be too long, too bulky and too heavy. The street versiondes rallyetier hit the road as a makeshift racing car that had been spruced up as a luxury sports car. You take a seat on leather-upholstered Recaro chairs, which are somewhat reminiscent of the FC Kaiserslautern coaching chair and otherwise feel like you are in a standard Audi, which is missing a wheelbase of 30 centimeters from the B-pillar. The rear bench could have been given away in favor of the power-to-weight ratio.

Only preschoolers could sit there. But the music plays under the long snout anyway. The engine seems to be gushing out of the engine room, bulging the front sheet metal and hood outwards, creating space for additional coolers, a cylinder head with two camshafts and 20 valves and a turbo pressure relief valve in the size of a medium saucepan. In spite of the generous use of super-light Kevlar, a light metal motor and extensive renunciation of useless trinkets - the Sport Quattro lacks electric window lifters or electric seat adjustment - it weighs just under 1,300 kilograms. The rally version barely made it to the 1,000 mark.

It was still enough to become the rally winner, even if he did not quite meet the hopes of his builders. The 200 series cars came so quickly to the people. A short one could be purchased for around 200,000 marks, making the Sport Quattro the most expensive German car of its time. And one of the most exciting. Because such an uncompromising driving machine, whose rally genes can be felt as unfiltered as in a Lancia Stratos, has never been made in Germany since then.

Audi Quattro 20 V is a luxury sports car from the 90s

Even the last evolutionary stage of the Quattro Coupé could not keep up. The 20 V replaced the Quattro of the first series from 1989, and only connoisseurs can distinguish the four-valve engine from its predecessor straight away. Because many of the changes that characterize the 20 V were already incorporated into series production before the model change. For example the eight-inch wide wheels, the mouse cinema instruments or the upgraded interior. Nevertheless, when switching from the Ur- and Sport Quattro to one of the 20 V, it seems like another world: Fine leather, air conditioning and all kinds of comfort extras transform the angular coupé into a luxury sports car from the 90s.

The engine has also increased: with a four-valve head and 2.2 liter displacement, it corresponds to the version that was also used in the contemporary 200 sedan. The 20 V with its 220 hp drives like a limousine. Without excitement and without the turbo lag of the two-valve engine, the five-cylinder rotates up to just over 6,000 revolutions and fires the almost 1,500 kilogram coupé to a performance that is still impressive. It is a touch better than the two-valve version: 6.9 seconds from zero to a hundred and 235 km /h top. So it's no wonder that a well-preserved 20V is significantly more expensiveare traded as the previous model. For a top car you have to invest 15,000 euros. But there is also something for the money: the most sophisticated variant of the high-tech icon from Ingolstadt with a rustproof body and an exhaust-gas-cleaned engine at the price of a better-equipped new Polo.

The first Quattro version captivates with the charm of the crude original model, the future vision of Bavarian engineers with the interior of a sinister late seventies bar, in which only Yes records are played. There are good cars from around 10,000 euros. Of course, the Sport Quattro deserves the crown. It drives and brakes on asphalt like a racing car, in second gear at the end of town you feel almost like Walter Röhrl in 1985 in San Remo - he is the Audi par excellence. This car transports Vorsprung durch Technik in such a condensed way as the gullwing, M1 and 959 represent Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche. And you can find it just as beautiful. When you have 70,000 euros left.


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