Audi 200 5E

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W.B. described the Audi 200 5T — Audi’s top-of-the-range, sumptuously equipped, turbocharged saloon — very fully in the September 1980 edition of Motor Sport, giving the car a very creditable rating. Now Audi have produced an un-boosted version of the 200 model with exactly the same high level of specification but costing some £2,600 less than the £12,950 of the turbocharged car. Automatic transmission is standard on this E-for-econorny model, although a manual 5 speed box is available as a no-extra-cost option.

A full description here would be superfluous in view of W.B.’s words a few months ago — it is sufficient to say that the 200 5E is an extremely comfortable car both for the driver, who has a large range of seat adjustment available, and for the passengers. Visibility is good, although the head restraints fitted to all seats sometimes get in the way when reversing, the instruments are clear (an “Econometer” — a euphemism for a manifold depression gauge — taking the place of the turbo-boost guage) and there are plenty of storage spaces for motoring paraphenalia of all kinds. Nice touches are the dual position seat belt mounting points (although a spanner is needed to make an adjustment) and the reading lights in each passenger door. Quibbles are the digital clock mounted centrally above the windscreen where the rear seat passengers can tell the time easily, but the driver has to make the kind of exaggerated head movement reminiscent of checking the mirror when taking a driving test, the roof lining which has panels of the seat-facing velour let into it, which I just did not like, and the dipping rear-view mirror which needed adjusting every time the mode was changed.

In performance, the car is understandably sluggish in comparison with its boosted brother, the best time to 60 m.p.h. that I was able to obtain being a shade under 13 seconds. However, once cruising steadily with the Econometer needle at about three-quarter position, and the speedometer needle well above the legal maximum, it is delightfully quiet and smooth. The road holding, handling and braking having been designed for the more powerful car, give plenty of reserve and coupled with Pirelli P6 tyres. as on the test car, inspire confidence. The initial understeer typical of many front-drive cars is noticeable by its absence, the 200 5E having a pleasantly neutral handling characteristic. I enjoyed my week with this economy version of Audi’s top saloon, obtaining fuel consumption figures between 21.9 and 23.5 m.p.g. over twelve hundred miles of fast motorway driving and trans-London crawling. I did, however, find the two relatively short cross-country journeys I made in the car rather frustrating as there just was not the urge available to make the best use of the road holding potential or to overtake comfortably.

A fine, well-engineered car which will appeal to those who have grown out of the everyroad-is-a-race-track stage and who like to travel in unostentatious luxury. — P. H.J.W.