Long before Audi Sport was known by such a name, the four-ringed brand’s motorsport division was dominating rally and IMSA races all across the world. During its time in these racing series’, Audi was using a couple of different cars. The now-famous and iconic Audi Quattro and the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA were two of the most dominant cars in the world during the ’80s and ’90s and some of the greatest Audi racing cars of all time. And both of them had one key similarity — five cylinders.
The Audi five-cylinder engine was incredibly unique, especially in America. In America, if it didn’t have a V8, it was a secretary’s car. So when Audi came knocking on the door of the IMSA series in North America and started dominated V8-powered cars with its five-cylinder engine, the world started to take notice. Audi also dominated rally stages, with the fire-breathing Quattro that seemed almost unbeatable.
But the best part about both cars was what lied under their hoods. That five-pot motor was so punchy, so powerful and so dependable that it was the key reason for Audi’s success in racing during that time. However, the best part of the engine wasn’t its power or performance. It was the noise. The odd firing order (1-2-4-5-3) of Audi’s turbo five-pot gave it the craziest sound, one that still drives car enthusiasts wild. Alongside that was its turbo flutter, which can make gearheads’ knees weak. It was such an intoxicating noise and it made Audi’s race cars so special.
These were long before the existence of Audi Sport as we know it today. Yet Audi Sport still produces such a turbocharged five-cylinder engine today. While the old one displaced 2.2 liters and made between 200-500 hp, depending on application, the current road-going variant makes 400 hp and displaces 2.5 liters. The new one is also made entirely from aluminum. Though the glorious noise remains and is the main reason for our obsession with the new Audi RS3 and TT RS.
The trailer for Audi’s latest documentary about its now-famous engine and racing success has just been released and it’s worth a watch.