As part of a new series, we’re going to go through some of the decades and choose the best Audi from each. Admittedly, some of the older decades are a bit easy choose from, as there weren’t many great Audi-branded cars before the 1970s, especially due to the brand’s complicated history, so that’s where we’re going to start — the ’70s. During the decade of peace and free love, the best four-ringed model was easily the Audi 100.
Developed to put Audi on the map as a premium automaker, the 100 was a big, luxurious sedan based on a front-wheel drive Volkswagen chassis. Though, it wasn’t without drama.
The Audi 100 was actually developed in secret, by former Mercedes-Benz engineer Ludwig Kraus, as new parent company Volkswagen wasn’t really keen on making any new Audi models. However, after seeing the car, Volkswagen Group brass couldn’t say no to it.
Good thing they did, as the Audi 100 went on to be the most successful four-ringed model at the time and really put the brand on the map outside of Germany. In fact, it was actually the 100 that made Audi famous in the UK. Admittedly, it wasn’t so famous, nor as successful, in the US but just becoming in the rest of Europe was good enough.
A coupe version of the Audi 100 was also made, which was mechanically the same as the sedan, and it looked fantastic. In fact, the Audi 100 Coupe is still one of the best looking coupes the brand has ever made. It actually looks a bit similar to the Aston Martin DBS of the era, which is a grand compliment.
The 100 wasn’t particularly fast, nor did it handle particularly well. Though, it wasn’t designed as a sport sedan/coupe. Instead, it was designed more to be a premium, luxury sedan/coupe, designed to comfortably shuttle people around in style, something it did very well.
The original 100 packed a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine, which made about 99 horsepower. An Audi 100 Coupe S came with a 1.9 liter version of the same engine, with 115 horsepower. All 100 models were front-wheel drive and came with either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.
The 100 was a hugely important car for Audi at the time. It was the car that showed the world Audi could make premium vehicles that could (sort of) compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It was also the stepping stone for the next decade, which would see Audi become even more of a player in the premium segment…