Audi is currently in transition that the company prepares to electrify its lineup with more EVs and hybrids. The firm’s switch to a completely different powertrain branding nomenclature is just the beginning of this coming onslaught of greener drivetrains. In a new short-form documentary, the Four Rings turns its attention backward to the inline five-cylinder engine’s role in the brand’s history from the late 1970s to the early ‘90s.
Audi launched the inline-five in 1976 when the company was trying to move upmarket. Rivals like BMW and Mercedes-Benz had built a reputation on inline-six powerplants, but the Four Rings opted to do something a little different to create a more compact mill.
In 1980, Audi launched its Quattro coupe. The company decided to prove the turbocharged five-cylinder powerplant, along with the all-wheel-drive system, by going rallying. It became a motorsport icon.
This short documentary includes some fabulous shots of the car sliding in the snow and doing huge jumps. Plus, there are interviews with famous racers like Hans Stuck and Walter Rohrl.
After dominating rallying, Audi took the potent combination of a turbocharged inline-five and all-wheel drive elsewhere. First, it dominated the Trans-Am series in the United States, and then the company carried that success to the IMSA racing championship, too.
Gallery: Audi celebrates 40 years of five-cylinder engines
Audi’s five-cylinder engine had its last great application in the RS2 Avant. The turbocharged 2.2-liter produced 311 horsepower (232 kW) thanks to a little tuning help from Porsche.
A five-cylinder returned to the Audi lineup a few years ago, although now the company’s mounts it transversely in the engine bay rather than longitudinally. Today, the mill produces 400 horsepower (294 kW) and 354 pound-feet (480 Newton-meters) of torque in the Audi TT RS and RS3 Sedan. In recent First Drives, Motor1 Senior Editor Jake Holmes found the powerplant fun in both applications.
Source: Audi via YouTube