Top Gear drives the original Audi Quattro for its 40th Birthday

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the original Audi Quattro, the car that launched the brand into the world of performance cars. The original “Ur” Quattro made its debut in 1980, at the Geneva Motor Show, and it’s been an icon ever since. So, to celebrate its incredible forty-year run, Top Gear has driven an original model.


While we’ve seen and read several reviews of the Quattro over the years, this specific car was one of the very first ever made. It was registered inn 1981 and features the original layout; a 2.1 liter turbocharged five-cylinder making 197 bhp and 210 lb-ft of torque. That might seem puny by today but it was downright impressive for a hatchback in 1980.

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What really shocked people was its all-wheel drive system. Prior to the Audi Quattro, no one thought of four-wheel drive for the road. Instead, four-wheel drive was considered strictly for off-road use. However, Audi flipped the script and showed people that driving all four wheels could not only work on the road but excel.


Even more impressive is just how good the car seems to drive, even today. We haven’t driven an original Quattro, so we’ll have to take Top Gear’s word for it, but it seems fantastic. Its grip is still unflappable, forty years later, and its power and performance are still respectable. It’s a great car to drive, even though it’s essentially ancient now.

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What’s also interesting is the fact that its “Quattro” all-wheel drive system is actually quite different from the current setup. It uses two mechanically locking differentials, one center and one rear, that had little levers in the cabin to fully lock either of them. Later on, Audi switched to a center Torsen differential which is what all longitudinal-engine Audis still use today.


Obviously, we could go on and on about the Audi Quattro and why it’s such a legend. But you should check out Top Gear’s review of the iconic rally-car-turned-road-car which put Audi on the map.


[Source: Top Gear]
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.