The Audi 200 5T Turbo

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Top model of the VW-Audi range, the Turbo 200 5T is an impressive car. It is very fully equipped, for maximum comfort, it has a most impressive performance, and it is clearly a move up-market, into the BMW and Mercedes-Benz area. Turbocharging may be the lazy engineer’s way of obtaining greatly increased acceleration and speed from an existing power unit without doing much other than lowering the compression ratio and tacking on the turbocharger. However, if this improves the performance and torque of a well-proven piece of machinery, no-one should complain. 

In the case of the Audi 200 it has made the five-cylinder in-line engine smoother than before. Although commendably smooth-shifting automatic transmission is normally used, with the expected low and second gear “holds”, there is little need to move the gear-selector lever out of the “Drive” location, because for all practical purposes the “squirtability” of this Turbo Audi is not only very enjoyable, but this powerful acceleration is sufficient for whipping past slower vehicles. As to turbo-lag when opening up, this is present but in a very minor-key. While it might sometimes prove a disadvantage to a driver trying very hard indeed, and needing instant response to the throttle, for normal quick motoring, once the driver is aware. that the lag is there, this slight hesitation is a very small price to pay for the Audi 200 5T’s very impressive ability to get up and go. It is scarcely worse than kick-down lag on a mediocre automatic gearbox. Acceleration can be expressed as 0-60 mph in 8.7 sec, standstill to 90 mph in 20.3 sec, and on to the “ton” in another 61/2 sec. The standing-start 11/4-mile comes up in well under 17 sec, and the intermediate acceleration figures are just as impressive, such as 40 to 60 mph in “hold-2” in four seconds and that useful 50 to 70 mph pick-up in a matter of only 5.3 sec in the same gear. Top speed is of less importance but is an impressive 125 mph at 6,500 rpm, at which engine speed in second gear the Audi Turbo will be doing 86 mph. 

There are, admittedly, two other aspects of this fast Audi relating to its turbocharging. One is that, when accelerating, there is a rather unpleasant noise, like that from a slipping clutch, and at steady speeds there is also some hum; yet neither sound is really detrimental to the sheer pleasure of having that useful acceleration on (almost) instant tap. The other point is fuel thirst. Admittedly the Audi Turbo will use up four-star petrol at the rate of less than 16 mpg if it is thrashed really hard. Against that, in average-fast motoring it gave me an overall figure of 20.8 mpg from its 2.2-litre engine. (Last check on the Rover 3500 V8 showed 21.8 mpg) As the fuel tank holds 161/2 gallons, this is one of the few rather thirsty cars possessing a truly useful range. Oil consumption is no problem, the accessible dip-stick in the impressively-stocked engine compartment under the self-supporting, rear hinged bonnet lid, showing full after 800 miles. The overhead camshaft engine 5T develops 170 (DIN) bhp at 5,300 rpm, and 198 lb/ft torque at a modest 3,300 rpm. (900 rpm lower than on the Audi 200), from its five iron, 79.5 x 86.4 mm cylinders. It has breaker-less ignition, six main bearings, an aluminium-alloy cylinder head, and Bosch K-jetronic fuel injection ideal for a turbo installation. The compression-ratio is 7.9 to 1 (down from 9.3 to 1), and the KKK exhaust-driven turbocharger functions at 11.7 lb/sq in (or 0.8-bar), at maximum pressure -not even VAG seem to know at what maximum rpm it revolves. 

The drive goes through the front wheels, from the transverse power-pack, but this does not produce acute wheelspin problems on dry roads. It does call for care when opening-up, remembering the Turbo-lag, in conjunction with this kick-downout of roundabouts, for instance, especially on slippery surfaces. However, the Audi 200 5T shod with Continental low-profile radial ply 205/60-HR 15 tyres on 6J rim-width alloy wheels, does not have any real problems here, to an experienced driver, unlike some other too-powerful-for-front-wheel-drive cars I could name. To quell the high performance you have extremely good hydraulic power brakes. 

Unfortunately these brakes have a two-range movement of the pedal, presumably intended to provide progressive retardation, which, however, only serves to emphasise the suddenness and uncertainty of the brakes, even when the driver is trying to apply them smoothly. At first this quite spoiled the car for me. As I grew more accustomed to this power effect I was able to reduce speed more smoothly. The all-disc power brakes, with the discs seen through the wheels, which should spell effective cooling, are, however, the least worthy part of the car.

The power-assisted, rack and pinion steering is high-geared, at just below 31/2 turns lock to lock, in conjunction with a very good lock (giving a 37.1 foot turning circle), but there is not much feel to it. The ride is generally very good, if you do not mind the Audi sideways lurch, and it is helped by good, large seats, universally adjustable and with the driver’s cushion heated when required, which I would have thought might bring on a painful disease. The front seat head restraints are of open-pattern type but they are still obstructive to the rear compartment occupants. The styling of the body differs from that of the Audi 100 in a number of aspects. It has a front spoiler, lowered side-ribbing to give a rubber rubbing strake, and a changed radiator grille, while the wheels have more spokes. I do not consider this new Audi 200 to be a very good looking car, the different levels in side view, the rear quarter-light beading, and the new 16-spoke wheels not appealing to me. 

Opinions may differ here, though, and there is no denying that the Turbo Audi, once the hum of its forced-induction has become an acceptable background sound, is quite a quiet-running car, very comfortable, and certainly lavishly fitted out. It cruises quite effortlessly at 80 and 90 mph onwards, being obviously intended to excel on German Motorways, always with that thrusting acceleration to get the driver out of difficulties, and for him or her to enjoy. It is not so “chuckable” as a Rover 3500, however, and that car is £2,529 less expensive in normal automatic form, £1,663 cheaper in S-form, with air-conditioning, which is an extra on the Audi. Instrumentation is well carried out, in typically German style, the three black instrument dials in the binnacle before the driver, seen past the huge centre-pad of the steering wheel which rather inconveniently sounds an anaemic horn-note, being easy to read, although their needles blank off some of the digits. Speed, revs, and oil, water and fuel readings are given in the combined right-hand dial. Four short stalk-levers under the steering wheel control lamps, wipers, hazard-warning, and turn indicators. The flashers’ stalk is on the left, as is usual on European cars. The lamps dipper carries the well-contrived Cruise control button. Oil temperature is recorded, not oil pressure. Within the instruments binnacle there are the usual Audi rocker-switches for the minor services, these having inbuilt warning lights. A segment of the tachometer has a dial and needle which indicates boost-pressure from the turbocharger. The tachometer itself reads to 7,000 rpm, with danger mottling at 6,500 rpm, the dial spaced rather oddly, with figures every 250 rpm. The speedometer reads to 240 kph or the equivalent, in steps of 20. Heat influx is controlled by Audi’s usual rotatable knob, supplemented by two horizontal heater/ventilator slide controls, but more fresh air would sometimes be welcome. However, the Audi must be about the only remaining car, apart from Triumph, to have openable front quarter-lights. The side windows are electrically operated, from rather awkwardly placed switches on the rear console, when the ignition is “on”. A rather slow functioning sunroof, with rear spoiler, is fitted as part of the generous standard equipment, which includes washers (but no wipers) for the dual headlamps, two small sausage cushions for use at the base of sensitive human spines, adjustable for height headlamps, electrically adjustable and heated door-mirrors, a stereo radio and tape player, tinted windows, a laminated windscreen, and, if preferred to the three-speed automatic transmission, a five-speed manual gearbox. There is also central door-locking which, being vacuum operated, functions quietly, unlike the loud click you get from the Rover’s system; but the Audi falls down here, such locking working only from the driver’s door key. Interior stowages are generous and ingenious. 

Although of big family car size, with a spacious unobstructed 22.6 cu ft luggage boot, the Audi 200 5T is a little cramped in the rear compartment. Other items of its equipment not to be overlooked include individual cigarette lighters for the rear passengers, fog lamps, three reading lamps, and velour upholstery. The engine always commenced instantly from cold and idled impeccably. The springing of the car has been stiffened up to render it complementary to the increased performance. There is some understeer, but lifting off on corners corrects this, in the normal FWD manner, and very fast cornering can promote a little oversteer. The two pedals are biased to the left to accommodate the generous steering-lock and although the T-handle of the gear-selector lever has a safety button to prevent unintentional movement into neutral or, worse, into reverse, as this is on the side of the handle, it is not always effective. 

To sum up, I thought this Audi 200 Turbo a highly refined, very desirable car, restful to drive and great for overtaking several “mimsers” at one go! It sells here for £12,950 and is aimed at the market covered by the BMW 732, the Mercedes-Benz 280 range (no car, though, has quite the overall mechanical perfection or “feel” of a Mercedes surely?) and the Jaguar XJ6. VAG plan to import and sell 1,000 Audi 200s by the end of the year, which would capture 10% of the British luxury car market. Anyone about to invest in such a motor car is advised to try the Audi Turbo before deciding. – WB. 

There is confusion over the brake system used for the Audi 200 5T. One weekly road-test report says the car driven had vacuum-servo brakes, another that their test car had servo high-pressure hydraulic assistance. Autocar’s latest Buyer’s Guide gives the braking as vacuum-servo. We have heard that power braking is used only on rhd Audi 200 Turbos, which seems illogical. However, we were told by VW-Audi’s PRO at Milton Keynes that “our” Audi had the power-braking system as used for the 4wd Audi Quattro. Audi, Rolls-Royce and Citroen (from whom R-R borrowed it) are the only cars to use power braking. 

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