To celebrate the unveiling of the A3 concept car in Geneva, we’re taking a nostalgic look back at some of our favourite Audis from years gone by.
The new A3 is said to “epitomise Audi’s latest brand language”, with its lightweight design and fuel efficiency, coupled with a remarkably fast, turbocharging engine. Over the years, Audi’s brand language has shifted somewhat but the German manufacturer has rarely failed to impress.
Here are five of our favourites:
1980 Audi Quattro
Like the brand new A3, the original Audi Quattro was given its unveiling at the International Geneva Motorshow. Also, like the A3, the Quattro was seen as an innovative, ground-breaking car. Few could have imagined the legacy the Quattro would leave, becoming the first all-wheel-drive car to truly gain mainstream popularity thanks to its space-saving, small, light gearbox.
The Quattro excelled on the high street and also in the world of rallying, winning titles in the American TransAm and the IMSA Series. Even to this day, though the design has started to show its age, the Quattro can command high sums from Audi lovers worldwide.
Audi TT DSG
For years, the beautiful Audi TT was let down by its somewhat sluggish, four-cylinder 1.8T engine. Finally, in 2003, Audi placed a 3.2 litre V6 engine in the TT and fans of the coupe were at last given the car of their dreams.
The performance of the TT DSG finally matched up to its prize-winning looks, with a narrow-angle V6 engine roaring away and the revolutionary Direct Shift Gearbox providing the most sophisticated transmission seen in any car at that time.
With a price tag of around £30,000 as well as some heftily-priced car insurance, UK drivers could have been deterred from the TT DSG, had it not been such a blindingly good package. Fortunately for Audi, it sold in droves and remains a classic to this day.
In 2006, Audi brought the legacy of the Quattro and the classy style of the TT together in a razor sharp new supercar – the R8. Based on the Lamborghini Gallardo’s platform and inspired by the Audi Le Mans Quattro racing car, the R8 was heralded by six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx as “the best handling road car today.”
The R8 was so proud of its 4.2 litre V8 engine, it was displayed beneath a glass engine cover. The performance of said engine blew many Audi fanatics away, reaching 8,250 rpm and combining with a six-speed manual gearbox that delighted purists.
The body control, steering and ride quality of the R8 took Audi to new heights and the model remains perhaps the most attention-grabbing cars ever built, forcing the creators of car insurance bands to reconsider their boundaries!
When Audi set about creating an estate car in 1994, they enlisted the help of Porsche – a company not exactly renowned for their expertise in designing large, cumbersome vehicles. The result: the Audi RS2 – the fastest estate car in the world.
Porsche added a KKK turbocharger to Audi’s 2.2-litre, 20-valve, 5-cylinder engine and the boost pressure was raised from 1.1 to 1.4 bar. To cope with the mighty 315 horsepower and 180mph speeds of the RS2, Porsche fitted the brakes used on their 911 – something drivers of the RS2 were thankful for as they sped from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds.
Lovers of the original Audi Quattro spent a long time waiting for the German manufacturer to produce a car that could match the sheer driveability of the 1980 classic. That wait finally ended in 2002 with the release of the RS6.
The RS6 was Audi’s most powerful production car ever at 444bhp, with a top speed of 189mph. Its engine was more powerful than the Jaguar S-type and the BMW M5, while hi-tech features such as Tiptronic steering controls ensured the RS6 wowed gadget fans.
Buyers, blessed with the new millennium luxury of being able to order the car and their car insurance online, snapped up the RS6 like hot cakes.