Road test miscellany, June 1982



Audi 80 CD

THE latest version of the Audi 80 series is the 2-litre, 5-cylinder 80 CD which was introduced at the beginning of this year to become the flagship of the series.

Beautifully smooth throughout its operation, the smaller of Audi’s two five-cylinder engines gives the compact but very roomy Audi 80 excellent performance both in terms of speed and acceleration as well as fuel economy. Coupled with the mechanical benefits of the Ingolstadt engineering, the superior trim of the CD makes for an extremely pleasing and relaxing all round saloon.

A five-speed gearbox is used which has a high overdrive fifth speed to give economical cruising. The engine will pull fifth gear from as low as 1,000 r.p.m., but pick up is excruciatingly slow, and anyone who makes a habit of getting into top and staying there would become a mobile traffic jam with this car. For practical purposes, there is little point in changing up to fifth below 40 m.p.h., and if it is necessary to accelerate from 50 to 70 for overtaking, it is best to change down to fourth, or even third, before starting the manoeuvre — Audi make a point of calling this fifth gear an “economy” ratio in their literature, and it is necessary to treat it as such.

On the road, the Audi is a neat and compact performer. Given that the high gearing makes it necessary to use the gearbox frequently, the car moves along very smartly, accelerating to 60 m.p.h. in a shade over ten seconds and having a top speed of over 110 m.p.h. The integrity of the package is such that it is possible to cruise at near the maximum speed with all confidence and without any indication of strain on the mechanical components. Wind noise is remarkable only by its absence at all but the highest speeds and mechanical noise has been proofed right out of the cabin except for a muted roar when the engine is being stretched to the fullest extent.

The ride is rather softer than we would have expected and there is noticeable roll on corners at only moderate speeds. Handling is typically Audi, being responsive and confidence inspiring. The braking system might have the newcomer worried at first, for the feel is rather spongy and significant pedal pressure is required for all but the most gentle retardation. If this leaves the driver thinking that the brakes are not particularly powerful, an “idiot” type emergency stop will soon dispel any doubts and restore confidence, for the brakes are good and once the initial pressure has been applied, they are beautifully progressive.

Inside, the passenger accommodation is particularly spacious for such a compact car. Legroom and headroom for rear seat passengers is as much as expected in rather larger saloons and the rear seats themselves are comfortable. The front seats, on the other hand, were not altogether satisfactory, having a rather short squab making it difficult to find a comfortable driving position even for a short driver, despite the seat being adjustable for height as well as rake and position. The standard of trim is high, the seats being faced with crushed velour fabric, which also appears on the door panels. Equipment levels match the rest of the car — central locking, electric windows, sun roof, remote control mirrors, headlamp washers, front and rear foglights and so on. All worked faultlessly during our 700-mile spell with the car. External features which distinguish the CD from the lesser Audi 80s are alloy road wheels shod with low profile tyres, a deep front spoiler, and a waistline rubbing strip around the car.

Overall fuel consumption worked out at 33.1 m.p.g. for a combination of town driving and motorway cruising. Priced at £8,267, the Audi 80 CD has to compete with the Cortina Ghia 2.3 at £8,052 and perhaps the Vanden Plas Ambassador at £7,765, but despite it higher price it will find favour with many. — P.H.J.W.

MG Metro

AS WE hinted in last month’s issue, BL have re-introduced the MG name on a Metro. No doubt many enthusiasts for the open two-seaters of this make will scoff at the rather brightly dressed newcomer, muttering unpleasant things about “badge engineering”. Certainly much of the difference between this Metro and those which have become familiar on our roads over the past eighteen months is based on trim and cosmetics, but at its heart are simple mechanical alterations which transform the little car and make it worthy of its octagonal badge.

Under the bonnet is the smoothest, quietest version of the long lived A-series engine we have come across, with a compression ratio of 10.5:1 (achieved by reducing the volume of the combustion chamber in the cylinder head as well as using a smaller dish in the piston crown), a new camshaft profile to provide greater overlap, and larger diameter inlet valves. Surprisingly, only one carburetter an SC HIF 44 unit) is used, BL arguing that this arrangement is more efficient and economical that what many might regard as a traditional MG arrangement with twin SUs. The engine produces 72 b.h.p. at 6,000 r.p.m. and 73 lb. ft. of torque at 4,000 r.p.m. A stronger clutch is used, otherwise the transmission is normal Metro.

Suspension and braking are all standard Metro, but the combination of wider alloy wheels, in the style of the XR2 / 2.8 injection Capri, with low profile tyres make for a complete transformation in handling and road holding, giving the little car a delightful feel very reminiscent of the Cooper S. Comparison with the Cooper S can be extended, for the MG will reach 60 m.p.h. in 10.9 seconds, quicker than the 1275S in standard tune and will exceed 100 m.p.h., at which speed the engine is turning over at just under 6,000 rpm.

The cosmetic treatment spoils the car for us, much of it being rather gimmicky, such as a polished alloy rocker cover, red spark plug leads, bright red carpet (which will show any dirt straight away), red seat belts and broad stripes down the sides. That apart, the special MG seats are especially comfortable, better than those in the Vanden Plas, and the general noise level inside the car at speed is also less than the Vanden Plas version, something, perhaps, to do with the front and rear spoilers of the MG which BL claim reduce the drag coefficient from 0.41 to 0.39.

Priced at £4,798, the MG Metro follows in the tradition of the Marque in providing economical sporting motoring. The price of the Vanden Plas version of the Metro which we mentioned last month has now been announced as £4,995). — P.H.J.W.