Once the range-topper for the German brand’s family of saloons, the 1990 Audi V8 Quattro has fallen on hard times.
Based on the Typ 44 platform of the lesser 100/200, the V8 featured all the bells and whistles that Audi could throw at it.
Heated front and rear leather seats, sunroof, electric mirrors, heated locks, cruise control, trip computer, sports seats, ski bag, power adjustable front seats with memory settings and fog lights – all as standard. These cars also represented the marque’s first attempt at hanging a heavy V8 at the front.
The Audi V8 tries to please all types of drivers. No matter what your purpose, the 1990 Audi V8 Quattro is sure-footed and luxurious. The quattro all-wheel drive, which is split 50/50 between front and rear, apportions traction to the wheels that need it most depending on the road conditions. It is powered by a twin-cam 3.6-liter, 240-hp V8 and a 4-speed automatic transmission that lets you choose between three modes for economy (yes, seriously), sport, or manual performance. Though acceleration is hardly world-beating by todays standards and fuel economy is poor due to the V8’s size and weight, it is a pleasingly fast and fun ride.
The design of the 1990 Audi V8 Quattro pairs bold, self-assured styling with a timeless elegance. Inside is beautiful, well-laid out, and comfortable. Occupants appreciate the well apportioned interior with its heated front and rear seats. The materials and exterior of the V8 hold up well over the years.
The sophistication of its chassis and the comfort of the cockpit can cocoon the driver from the realities of the outside world. One can press on for miles in atrocious conditions, almost unaware of the speeds that this 146 mph car may be achieving. Of the 50 million DM spent developing the V8, 17 million DM was allocated to the acoustic wind tunnel at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant. The quiet interior of the car, even at speed, would indicate that this was money well spent.
The ingenious Procon Ten safety system featured which, in the event of an accident, can result in the steering wheel being pulled away from the driver and the front seat belts reeled in.
VAG managing director, Richard Ide, stated at the time of launch “there is no car on the market today with the specification of the V8.”
The Audi’s quad-cam 32 valve 3.6-litre was, at 40.95cm, the shortest V8 unit on the market. Its high level of technology was illustrated by the fact that Audi was granted three patents associated with the design involving the induction system, the honeycomb sump and the noise reducing insulation material and associated wiring.
Though a high performance car in 1990, it would be considered average today – it really comes alive above 4,500 RPM. It is extremely well put together and one of the most comfortable motorway cruisers ever made. It’s a car that would best be described as handsome rather than beautiful. Whilst not exactly a fun car to drive, it is nevertheless a very satisfying experience.
As to why this car is unloved in terms of classic Audi, it’s hard to say. The car has so much to recommend it. Used prices today, however, belie the true value of this former pinnacle of Audi ownership.
Pros: Miles of comfort, great sounding V8, fairly reliable.
Cons: Too heavy, costly repairs, fuel consumption.