Produced by the German automobile manufacturer Audi, the Audi Quattro was a road and rally vehicle, and part of the Volkswagen Group. Initially debuted on March 3rd, 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show, the Quattro was the first rally vehicle to take advantage of recently updated rules that allowed the use of four-wheel drive in competition racing.
The name 'Quattro' is derived from the Italian word for 'four' and the name has been utilized by Audi in reference to the ‘quattro four-wheel drive system', or any four-wheel drive version of an Audi model. To keep things simple, the original Quattro model is quite often commonly dubbed the Ur-Quattro. The 'Ur' prefix being a German augmentative that was used to avoid confusion, in this specific example as ‘original', meaning that it was applied to the first generation Audi S4 and Audi S6 models.
Continuing to be the best in competition racing, the Audi Quattro won race after race for the next two years. To pay tribute to the success of the original vehicle, all subsequent Audis with their trademark quattro four-wheel drive system were dubbed 'quattro' with a lower case 'q'. The original vehicle with the uppercase Q in its name has become a collectors piece. Many of the components and the core of its body style were shared between the Audi Coupe and the Audi Quattro. The Audi Coupe was a member of the Audi 80 B2 model range. Martin Smith was responsible for styling the Quattro's characteristic flared wheel-arches.
In 1977, Audi's chassis engineer, Jörg Bensinger came up with the vision behind the high four-wheel drive vehicle when he found that the VW Iltis Jeep could beat and outperform absolutely any other vehicle in the snow. Bensinger had the idea to begin development on an Audi 80 variant in co-operation with Walther Treser, the Director of Pre-Development.
Near the end of 1980, Audi introduced the original Quattro to European customers and it became the first vehicle that featured Audi's quattro permanent four-wheel drive system and the first to join its four wheel drive with a turbocharged engine.
The initial engine was the 2,144 cc, inline-5 cylinder 10 valve SOHC, with both a turbocharger and intercooler. The Quattro produced 147 kW and torque of 210 lb-ft at 3500 rpm that sky-rocketed the little car from 0-62 mph in just 7.1 seconds. The Audi Quattro had a top speed of 137 mph. In time the engine was modified to a 2,226 cc inline- 5 10 valve that still produced 147 W but with peak torque that was lower in the rev-range. By 1987 this was changed to a 2,226 cu inline-5 20v DOHC setup that produced 162 kW. Now the top speed of the Audi Quattro was 143 mph.
Many owners and enthusiasts often called Audi Quattro's by their engine codes so they could differentiate between the previous and later versions. The original 2144 cc 10v engine was dubbed the 'WR' engine, the 2226 cc 10v was dubbed the 'MB' engine while the later 20v engine became the 'RR' engine. Quattro models could be referred to as either the WR Quattro, MB Quattro, and RR or '20v' Quattro.
Between 1980 and 1991, a total of 11,452 units were produced, though no significant changes or updates were made in the visual design during this 11 year production span. Minor changes included the dash being switched from an analogue instrument cluster in 1983 to a green digital liquid crystal display electronic instrument cluster. By 1988 this was updated again to an orange LCD electronic instrument cluster.
By 1984 the interior was ready for an update and a whole new dash layout was redesigned. This redesign included a new steering wheel design, along with a new center console design and the switches around the instrument panel also being redesigned at this time. The following year the dash was updated just slightly with harder foam and also lost a diagonal stripe, while the dash switches were changed slightly and the diff lock pull knob gave way to a two-position turning knob with both volt and oil temp digital readouts.
The external styling also didn't receive much of an update during its production run. The car initially featured a flat fronted grille that featured four separate headlamp lenses, with one for each the low and high beam units. For '83, the car underwent a minor change that replaced the units with combined units that featured a single lens but held twin reflectors. Two years later the 1985 Quattro became the ‘facelift model' that included such radical changes that included new headlights, an all new sloping front grille, headlights and trim and badging updates.
Three new spoke steering wheel design was also featured on the RR 20v Quattro, along with leather covering for door arm rests, center console, gloveboxes and door pockets. Also all new was a full length leather wrapped center console that ran all the way to the rear seats. The 20v was also the original Ur-Q that received 'quattro' script interior with partial leather seats. Due to the dual catalytic exhaust setup, on the floor on the drivers side was a bulge. On the trunk lids, different models could be distinguished by their emblems. The WR had a vinyl ‘quattro' decal or a brushed aluminum effect plastic emblem while the MB had chrome plated ‘audi', ‘audi rings' and ‘quattro' emblems. Meanwhile the RR featured only chrome plated ‘audi' rings.
To get rid of the tendency for lift-off oversteer, the rear anti-roll bar was removed while the rear suspension was altered early on with geometry changes. The wheel size jumped from 6x15' with 205/6015 tires to 8x15' wheels with 215/50-15 tires during the '84 facelift. The suspension was also lowered 20mm at the same time but with slightly stiffer springs that better enhanced handling. By 1987 the Torsen center differential was utilized and replaced the manual center differential lock.
Beginning with the '83 model year, sales of the Quattro in the North American market were constructed concurrently and were the same design as the European '82 models and these continued until 1986. In the US total sales were 664. The Canadian market received basically the same vehicle except for the exception of the speedometer, very similar to the metric like the early Euro vehicles. Canadian sales were only 99, which included 61 in '83, 17 in '84, 18 units in '85 and 3 in '86.
The U.S. and Canadian versions also came with completely equipped with larger impact bumpers with built in shock absorbers, much like the rest of the 4000/Coupe models. Though they came with a variety of other options, they didn't include ABS, but did feature AC, and 90% of the vehicles came with leather upholstery. Most of the '84 and '85 Canadian models didn't feature sunroofs. The other suspension, cosmetic and electric advancements took place around nearly the same time as the European vehicles.By Jessica Donaldson