Ever since Audi introduced its Quattro all-wheel drive system forty years ago, back in 1980, every major Audi has been available with the system. In fact, it’s sort of defined the entire brand. So while Audi existed prior to inventing Quattro, its life didn’t really begin until 1980. Now, the “Quattro” DNA is ingrained into every single Audi on the road, so we thought it best to take a look back, at each of the four decades since Quattro debuted and pick the best Audi from each.
1980s — Audi “Ur” Quattro
This is an easy one, right? It’s the original Audi “Ur” Quattro, the car that started it all. Audi debuted the Quattro at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, where it shocked the world. Four-wheel drive had never been considered for use in a road car and, yet, here was the Audi Quattro ready to go. Not only that but was dominant on the rally stage and changed the nature of the sport.
1990s — Audi RS2 Avant
There are a lot of really good Audis in the ’90s, so many that it can almost be hard to choose from. However, there’s really only one correct answer — the RS2. When the Audi RS2 Avant debuted back in 1994, it introduced the entire “RS” sub-brand to the world and cemented Audi as a major performance brand, along with BMW M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG. It was also a great looking, shockingly fast wagon with all-wheel drive and a Porsche-tuned engine. So there’s that.
2000s — Audi R8
Again, there are a lot of incredible Audis in the ’90s. The C6 Audi RS6 Avant, first TT RS and the glorious B7 Audi RS4. But the best four-ringed car of all has to be the Audi R8. It debuted in 2007 and was the car that put Audi in the conversation as a supercar manufacturer. The R8 was the first mid-engine car Audi ever made and it packed a glorious 4.2 liter V8 with an open-gate six-speed manual and a space-age looks. Oh, and Tony Stark drove in in 2008’s Iron Man. Need I say more?
2010s — Audi e-tron
Some enthusiasts might scoff at the idea of the e-tron being the best car of this past decade and their criticism might be fair. The e-tron is actually not the best Audi of last decade, objectively speaking. However, it’s the most important one. Its Audi’s first-ever all-electric car and it’s one helluva first attempt. Audi wanted to create and electric SUV that could be bought by the masses, by people who buy normal internal-combustion engine cars and don’t really want to change their lifestyle. As flawed as the e-tron may be, it nails that design brief perfect. The Audi e-tron is a very good car and one that will move the brand into the future. So, flaws and all, it’s the best Audi of the past decade.