The phrase “beauty is only skin deep” could well be applied to the NSU 1200C, the largest model in the Audi NSU range of rear-engined cars. The NSU 1200C body has a rather awkward look about it, with its high flat bonnet and “up-turned bathtub” styling, but underneath lies a willing worker with a comfortable interior, lively four-cylinder o.h.c. engine, good handling, and a cavernous 17 cu. ft. boot.
Although the 1200C is only 13 ft. 1 in. long, the interior has been carefully planned to make full use of all available space. Consequently, five people can be carried in reasonable comfort, but with the front seats at the far ends of their travel there is precious little rear leg room. The reclining front seats are fully reclining and quite comfortable on long journeys. The offset foot pedals are, however, too high set, and the gearlever is rather too far forward. In common with most rear-engined cars the gearchange is rather sloppy, and the clutch on the test car was rather heavy and lacked feel. Generally the standard of finish is quite good, and instrumentation is comprehensive.
The air-cooled transversely mounted 1,177-c.c. four-cylinder engine in the 1200C develops 55 b.h.p. (DIN) at 5,500 r.p.m., giving the NSU lively, economical performance with a 70 m.p.h. cruising speed—85 m.p.h. maximum—and a fuel consumption of 29.3 m.p.g. on 2-star petrol. With its compact body, 32 ft. turning circle, and good acceleration (0-50 m.p.h., 10.9 sec.) the NSU is a very pleasing car to drive in traffic—a fact which is also helped by first-class all-round visibility.
On the open road the NSU handles very well and the German firm appears to have got the hang of manufacturing rear-engine swing axle cars. The 1200C test car came with Dunlop C41 tyres, and a press-on driver soon learns to throw the NSU about with great verve, having hardly a misgiving over the roadholding and handling capabilities. The NSU is, however, very susceptible to side winds, and on motorways will weave about. Road noise is high at speed, and the drum brakes are quite efficient with no sign of fade after prolonged use.
In conclusion, the NSU 1200C is quite a pleasing small car and has a lot to commend it. However, it does have one drawback—it costs a rather expensive £899.