Before there was quattro, there was the Audi Quattro.
Although the name quattro has entered into the automotive lexicon, the actual model that originally carried the name ceased production 30 years ago this month.
31 May, 2021
In May 1991, the last Audi quattro rolled off the final assembly line – the longest-manufactured Audi model with production lasting for almost 11 years
It was the making of a legend, a car that in many respects was born by accident sporting technology that effectively changed the automotive landscape forever. In March 1980, Audi stunned the automotive world at the Geneva Motor Show by introducing an all-wheel drive Coupé called the ‘Audi quattro’ which would, in a very short space of time, go on to change automotive history.
The idea for this high-performance vehicle with permanent all-wheel drive had evolved almost by accident during winter testing in Finland in 1977. Here, a vehicle called the Iltis (an off-road vehicle with all- wheel drive which Audi had developed for Volkswagen), convinced the engineers to look more closely at the idea of all-wheel drive for production cars because of its surprisingly good performance on snow and ice.
The Audi quattro opened up completely new dimensions for driving stability – with unrivalled traction in all conditions and extraordinary handling characteristics. This was demonstrated in impressive style in the World Rally Championship which Audi absolutely dominated throughout the 1980s – with two drivers’ and two constructors’ world championships and two German championship titles.
Following two visual and technical product upgrades, in March 1989 the all-wheel-drive coupé, which is now generally referred to as the original quattro, was given a 220hp five-cylinder, four-valve engine, a regulated catalytic converter and the advanced ‘second-generation all-wheel drive’ with self-locking, torque sensing centre differential.
Two years later, in May 1991, the last Audi quattro rolled off the final assembly line. To the present day, it remains the longest-manufactured Audi model with production lasting for almost 11 years.
The Audi quattro model may now be a thing of the past, but the all-wheel drive quattro technology continues across the Audi range and continues to be refined by Audi engineers to deliver unparalleled road holding that made the original ‘quattro’ the world-beater it was.
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