QUATTRO DRIVEN WE ROAD TEST A LEGEND
We get out to test drive some proper automotive legends. This month we go all Gene Hunt and “fire up the Quattro” (you schlaggggs)!
DRIVEN AUTOMOTIVE LEGENDS ROAD TEST: Daniel Bevis. LORD OF THE RINGS
“ANYTHING HAPPENS TO THIS MOTOR, I’LL COME ROUND YOUR HOUSES AND STAMP ON ALL YOUR TOYS. GOT IT?”
In a modern context, of course, the original #Audi
Quattro is not all that astonishing. We’re spoilt today. Every new hot hatch boasts the sort of performance figures that would have been supercar territory back in 1980. Brakes are infinitely better, suspension systems far more advanced – the game has moved on. So today, the Quattro feels quick-ish rather than actually fast, and the brakes are a bit wishy-washy. But this really isn’t the point. You see, the thing about the Quattro is that… it’s a Quattro. It’s an icon, a legend, those ’80 fade rings on the doors speaking volumes about none-too-subtle sporting intent. This is a car that Audi sold to the public with switchable diffs, a boost gauge and a 2.1-litre 10v 5-pot offering 200bhp – a demonstration of trust in the man on the street that he could handle what their rally department had been cooking up. And for those lucky punters, the reward came in the form of a chassis so good, so poised, that it offers up oodles and oodles of unrelenting grip, sublime body control with surprisingly little roll, and the sort of dependable agility that few cars can match even now.
This example may have over 170,000 miles on the clock, but it still feels as tight as a drum, whereas other performance machines of the era feel ¬ flimsy and rattly today (I’m looking at you, 205 GTI). This is testament to the fastidiousness with which Audi nailed the Quattro together. It smells exactly like a 1980s car should in there. It has appropriately boisterous seat trim and headlining, the driving position is superb – it’s a great relief to find a car that’s so revered is actually as good as everybody makes out.
Sure, it could do with being more powerful (quite a lot more powerful would be nice), and it really needs better brakes. But that’s true of a lot of cars of the early 1980s. All of them, probably. But few of them work in harmony with the driver quite like this one does. It encourages and complements your inputs, urges you to push harder. It’s never scary. It just feels right.
Even when you realise you’re going 20 or 30mph faster than you thought you were. Even when, as happened to me, you find the bright sunshine suddenly being switched off and replaced with a momentary torrential blizzard. “Hey, it’s a rally car, it’ll cope,” you think. And it does. Tremendously.
The one feature that really entertains is the turbo. And not just for the fact that delivers its thrills in a thoroughly old-school way, building the tension through treacly lag before spiking on boost and thumping you in the back. No, it’s the fact it sounds exactly like an approaching police siren. The first time you properly boot the throttle, you immediately back off assuming you’re about to be tugged by the fuzz. There are no blue lights in your mirrors, so you press on – and it happens again. Then you realise and it becomes a game. Suddenly, you’re not the mouse but the cat. You are DCI Gene Hunt, ring up the Quattro. And if I’d ever watched the show, I’d know exactly what that meant.
/ #1981 #Audi-Quattro-UK
PRICE NEW: £15,037 ( 1981 BASIC PRICE)
PRICE NOW: £18,000 PLUS (IF YOU’RE LUCKY)
POWER: 197BHP, 310LBFT
INSURANCE: GROUP 20
ORIGINAL SPEC ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.1-litre straight-five 10V DOHC, #Bosch-K-Jetronic
Fuel Injection, #KKK-26-Turbo
, All-Wheel Drive, 50/50 Torque Split, 5-Speed Manual
CHASSIS: 6X15-Inch #Ronal-Alloys
with 205/60X15 TYRES, 280MM DISCS ALL ROUND, ABS , independent suspension all round
EXTERIOR: BOX ARCHES, 80S Graphics, Oodles of Retro Chic
INTERIOR: some frankly astonishing seat fabric, Blaupunkt-Toronto Sqr Radio
The model was a revelation when it appeared at Geneva in 1980. How could it not be? It took the generally agricultural process of sending drive to all four wheels and repackaged it as a means to go faster. The face of rallying would never be the same again, Audi’s racy Quattros decimating all comers and forcing every rival into an adapt-or-die position. The 350bhp A1 and A2 evolutions hit the motorsport world in 1983, the latter winning eight World Rallies over the next two years.
And all that was before the bonkers 444bhp Sport Quattro S1 for the no-holdsbarred Group B competition. And for those people who used the road-going variants as daily drivers? Oh, they were heroes…
BUYING ONE? LOOK OUT FOR…
• Alarm – these cars traditionally don’t stick around for long, they’re dead-easy to break into.
• Bodywork – early LHD cars suffer from rust due to less than fastidious rustproo¬fing treatments. Headlight lenses also tend to go brown after 10 years (an MoT failure).
• History – Cambelt changes are needed every 80k and a full rebuild at around 120k (10 Valve) or 260k (20 Valve).
• Interior – electronic dashes can go wrong and ¬ finding replacements isn’t easy.
Pub Ammo – Audi Quattro
The word ‘quattro’ is derived from the Italian word for ‘four’.
The Quattro is also referred to as the UR-Quattro, meaning ‘primordial’ or ‘original’ in German.
The first chassis officially shipped to the UK was 85-B-900099.
In 1981 air conditioning would have cost you an extra 512 quid!
The first UK cars were all left-hand drive. Audi claimed they couldn’t be converted
(even though many were), until 1982 when they did it themselves.
IN POPULAR CULTURE…
“Fire up the Quattro! Shut it, you slaaaaag! Apples and pears. My old man’s a dustman” And so forth! All right, I never watched Ashes to Ashes, but that ¬ first ubiquitous phrase is as much a part of the TV-inspired everyday lexicon as “D’oh!”, ‘‘Here’s one I made earlier” and “We were on a break”. You almost feel sorry for the owners of UR-Quattros, as they must hear the bloody thing every day of their lives. Almost, yes, but not quite. Because the pay-off for having gawping bystanders relentlessly ¬ ring TV catchphrases at you is that, er, you get to own a Quattro. And having actually driven the timeworn (but feisty) red example in these very pages, I can con¬firm that this must be a very good thing.