Sleeker Audi 80
The new Audi 80, which appeared at the Paris Salon, is the result of 4,000 hours of wind-tunnel honing, so it’s not surprising that it bears a marked family resemblance to the aerodynamic 100 model, and has a Cd figure of 0.29. Like its bigger brother, the 80 has flush glass, a drag-reducing undertray and shows careful attention to details, such as streamlining the mirrors . . . though on the launch models a passenger door mirror was conspicuous by its absence, as that alone would raise the Cd figure to 0.30.
At high speed the new model is noticably quieter than its predecessor and uses less fuel, although under acceleration the four-cylinder units seemed noisier than before. It may be, as the engineers claimed, that the power units provide a higher proportion of noise in an otherwise quieter-running car, but insulation is the next area they might concentrate on, and the imminent debut of the 5-cylinder 90 range is awaited with interest.
The sleek bodywork is entirely new, 13 mm shorter that that of the previous model though wider, and with a longer wheelbase, to improve interior space. Interior heating and ventilation is much improved with air flaps, instead of water valves, in the system (allowing fresh air at face level, while the footwells are warmed), the headlamps are 20% more powerful, and the car now runs on 14-inch wheels which offer a marginally better ride, and allow the fitment of larger disc brakes from the 100 model.
While the power units are nominally the same as before (other than a longer stroke 1.9 litre model for markets which require catalytic equipment), new transmissions are featured and, in particular, the optional quattro four-wheel drive version favours the American Torsen differential rather than Audi’s traditional “fixed link” centre differential.
The new gearboxes were designed to mate with the Torsen differential, and are both designed and manufactured by Audi. The new five-speed manual is lighter and stronger than the old box, and has improved synchromesh (even on reverse) while the four-speed automatic, with top gear lock-up, will be announced early next year. The Torsen differential, with worm gears transmitting the drive to the rear wheels, runs normally with a 50:50 split, but is capable of transferring the torque 22:78 to the rear if the front wheels slip, or 78:22 to the front, as a maximum, if the rear wheels slip.
The engines, as before, are mounted longitudinally ahead of the front wheels and there are no fewer than 14 different power train options, including quattro versions, ranging from a 1.6 litre normally aspirated Diesel (54 bhp) through to the Bosch fuel injected 1.8 litre unit rated at 112 bhp, and the new 1.9 litre version, with catalytic equipment to American standards, producing 113 bhp.
The bodyshell is fully galvanised and trim levels are raised, with a simplified model range which is projected to take Audi upwards into the BMW 3-series market. Options now include velour or leather upholstery, and a “sport pack” which includes alloy wheels, a small spoiler across the tail, and a higher level of instrumentation.
Dynamically the new Audis are excellent, and inevitably it was the 112 bhp 80 quattro that was most in demand. Appropriately it poured with rain throughout the launch in Germany, and the 80 dealt with wet roads with contempt, as if they were dry. With equal power going through the well-tyred 14-inch wheels there was little risk of losing control, and the optional ABS brake system was another factor in the equation. A mild degree of understeer has been built in, and even with catalytic equipment the 80 felt adequately fast, though perhaps lacking a little top-end acceleration compared with the “rest of Europe” specification.—M.L.C.