Audi Quattro: The Power of Four


If someone hadn’t invented Group B rally at the start of the eighties, the times would have defined the form and it would have happened anyway. All of a sudden, what had been a relatively worthy, moustached and tweeded form of motor racing went into the excessive stratosphere.


And of all the Group B Rally cars, it was the Quattro that captured the imagination. Having been introduced on the streets at the end of 1980, the Audi Quattro instantly evoked an Olympian, fundamentally tonic blend of power and technology that left anything built in the West Midlands looking about as stale as an old cheese sandwich on a strike-wracked Leyland factory floor.

When ITV’s World of Sport began to cover Group B rallying, the British public didn’t need Dickie Davis to tell them that the future had arrived, and that the future was all about four wheel drive and Turbochargers. The Triumph Dolomite – which previously had occupied the heights of boy-racer aspiration – began to look something your grandpa would pootle down to the pub in. Even the rally-bred Escorts driven by the local nutters seemed to hark back to another era, a decade where two dimensions were all you needed to race well and look good.

But everything about the Quattro was exotic, not just the drivetrain. The engine was a two point one, in-line five cylinder. The Turbo had something called an intercooler, which sounded, well, really cool. The dash was riddled with LCD displays and there were chrome trimmed Quattro badges all over the place. It was fast too the engine produced around 200 BHP and it could pull away to sixty in a shade over seven seconds, topping out at over 140 MPH.

The advent of the Quattro marked the rebirth of the Audi badge, and its innovations set the tone for much of the European car industry’s exploration of the possibilities of AWD and relatively small but powerful turbocharged engines. It didn’t matter that Group B had proved a dangerous blind alley. A generation had already become hooked on the innovations the psycho formula had encouraged.


One Response to “Audi Quattro: The Power of Four”

  1. I think the Quattro *was* Group B. The sound that thing made coming 'round the bend. Wow.

    I'm sad I missed it, but I am fortunate that friends who did not will still fire up a round of “Group B Margaritas” for the after rally party and regale us all with stories of what it was like to actually be there.