Celebrating a Rallying Icon: The Audi Quattro
With the return of the World Rally Championship this weekend, we take a look back at one of the WRC’s cult heroes, the formidable Audi Quattro.
A car that’s synonymous with the high octane world of rallying and a road-going icon in its own right. Arguably that first car that bought four-wheel drive it’s first practical application to a road-focused car, the Audi Quattro has found itself a classic and highly sought after machine which holds a firm place in overall car culture.
First seeing the light of day back at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, the Audi Quattro was a sign of times. Featuring an inline 5 cylinder engine, which is largely responsible for it’s irresistible and unmistakable sound, copious amounts of power and it’s capable four-wheel-drive powertrain, this car was the very definition of 80’s exuberance and excess for what to all intents and purposes was a mid-size hatch.
Produced between 1980 and 1991, the Audi Quattro was the brainchild of Audi engineer, Jörg Bensinger who noted that the Volkswagen Iltis could take on and beat any car out there when faced with snow conditions, no matter what power the other contending car featured. Thus, of the back of this, Audi’s high-performance four-wheel drive machine was born and as was the German brands, now renowned Quattro moniker.
Despite being a well-engineered road-going beast, the Audi Quattro was to become a formidable contender on the stages of the World Rally Championship and quickly became a thorn in the side of other competitors. The Audi Quattro was among one of the first cars to take advantage of the World Rally Championships, then recently introduced, regulation change which permitted the use of four-wheel-drive machinery for the first time.
The Audi Quattro immediately had a devastating impact and went on to win competition after competition and is also credited of being one of the cornerstone cars in which ignited an intense fight within rallying which ultimately led to the ‘Group B Regulation’ glory years which are looked fondly upon to this very day.
For all it’s competition success, the Audi Quattro is just as remembered for its purposeful styling. Upon looking at this car today, it’s styling is the epitome of the 80’s and this is reflected in it’s flared arches, box-like profile and angular front and rear end. It’s big, it’s brash and it’s here to command attention.
For some, the Audi Quattro is seen as an early pioneer of four-wheel drive powertrains into the mainstream market. For others, this machine is looked upon as an automotive icon and one that went on to change the face of high powered four-wheel-drive machinery. A legacy which is still clear to be seen to this day.