Car reviews - Audi - 80 - range
Great design, build quality and solidity ergonimic comfort, galvanised body, good highway manners
Room for improvement
2.0 engine could use more power handling, steering and ride qualities not up to rival BMW's standards parts and servicing can be expensive
7 May 2003
IN the German prestige car field, the name Audi is often overshadowed by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Yet the company with the distinctive interlocking four rings as its insignia has a history just as distinguished as its more publicised rivals.
Although the company's roots can be traced back to 1909, the Audi marque began in 1932 as part of the Auto Union company, which in turn became Volkswagen.
Auto Union was famous for its fearsome, Ferdinand Porsche designed mid-engined Grand Prix racing cars, built to challenge the might of Mercedes-Benz. These cars were so powerful and difficult to drive that only Rosemeyer and the legendary Nuvolari could handle them.
In the 1980s the be-winged, fire-spitting Group B Audi Quattro rally cars revolutionised the sport by introducing four-wheel drive and turbocharging, and took the World Rally Championship on two occasions.
Since the introduction of the early 100 and Fox models, Audi has steadily consolidated its place in the Australian market. The 80S is a worthy contender in its price range at the lower end of the prestige market.
Powered by a four-cylinder, single camshaft, two-valve, fuel- injected engine of 1984cc, the Audi 80S produces 83kW and 170Nm of torque. The engine is mounted longitudinally and drives the front wheels through a three-speed automatic or a five-speed manual gearbox.
The Audi has well above average ride and handling. Suspension uses MacPherson struts with coil springs at the front and trailing arms, transverse torsion beam, coil springs and anti- roll bar at the rear. The front-wheel drive layout means the dominant handling characteristic is understeer when the car is pushed hard into corners.
Brakes are four-wheel discs, ventilated at the front, and braking performance is faultless.
The three-speed auto has a staggered gate shift lever arrangement reminiscent of Mercedes and is pleasant to handle. It is easy to use the shift lever manually to extract a little more performance from what is a relatively slow accelerating vehicle.
The exterior appearance is pleasing. The compact, rounded shape has a classy look that should not date. Although the body looks narrow, interior space is very good.
The front seats are set well forward, giving adequate legroom for adults in the rear. The rear seat will accommodate three with a slight squeeze. The seats are comfortable with good support.
Boot space is reasonable, although loading can be awkward due to the high but shallow shape.
The dash layout is pleasingly modern with round, easy to read instruments and twist-type ventilation controls.
Air-conditioning is standard, as is central locking, power steering and power windows. A good quality radio/cassette player is fitted.
Unfortunately, the indicator stalk is on the left of the steering column due to the car's European origins.
Cars such as this are generally well looked after by their first owners, who are often company executives or professional people.
The Audi 80S offers an excellent alternative choice to the Japanese contenders at the entry level to the luxury class.
It has pleasing styling, reasonable performance, excellent ride and handling, a high level of appointments and that indefinable European feeling of class and refinement that sets it a little above the ordinary.
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