The first appearance of the Sport Quattro was in Corsica, May 1984. Audi felt the initiative was slipping away from it. It was. That event was also the debut for the Peugeot 205 T16, which had been homologated one month earlier and, until Ari Vatanen retired it, was the quickest thing around.
The Sport Quattro was Audi’s answer to the upstart newcomers. The majority of its technology was, in true Audi tradition, in the motor: a twin-overhead cam, four-valves-per-cylinder, fire-breathing monster that was conservatively said to give 400bhp and probably gave at least 100 more.
The wheelbase of the Sport was 320mm less — just over a foot — than the A2, and its front and rear track were identical. Losing that length while upping the horsepower and heat generated meant that all the subsidiary elements had to be bigger and fit into a smaller space. This bred unreliability, while the good handling of the A2 was lost to some degree with the shorter wheelbase: on a stage it gave the impression of being a rocking horse.
The next evolution of the Sport Quattro, the E2, is probably the best-known image of the GpB era. To keep engine and turbocharger at a reasonable temperature it was over-fuelled and the excess burnt off in long flames to the accompaniment of loud mortar bangs from the wastegate. Even static, it grabbed your attention with its enormous arches, airdams and aero strakes.
Open its light boot and there was even more of a surprise. In it were the oil, water and gearbox coolers, together with their associated fans. This shift of weight was to try to correct the S1’s 60:40 distribution front to rear. For the E2 it was back to almost 50:50 — but with its extra cooling systems the car was heavier than the A2. With 500bhp to call upon, it took a brave man to drive it, but it did go better than its baby brother. And there has rarely been a more charismatic rally car, even if it’s not a very pretty one.
Blomqvlst’s view: I kept out of the Sport Quattro until my world championship was secure! Ah no, that is not quite correct because I drove it in San Remo when the engine went bang and Walter [Rörl] left the road. But the title was almost certain then. I drove Sport Quattro on the Ivory Coast Rally and won from Hannu’s A2.
The Sport Quattro had some strong points. To start with it had a lot more power and that helped – a bit! And when they introduced that hydraulic clutch operating from the gear lever, that was good for me because I like to brake with my left foot and now I didn’t have to keep going back to the clutch pedal. But you did have to be careful on road sections that you didn’t have your foot under the clutch pedal when you changed gear because it was still connected and would break your foot if it hit it!
And we also had the first proper centre diffs, which made the car more effective but not much easier to drive. The problem was one of balance, which they got better with the E2. But it was never as nice to drive as the A2.