I was lucky enough last week to take part in an Audi procession up Goodwood's famous hill to celebrate 40 years of quattro. Driving the 1,890-metre course with the crowds and stands replaced by rolling fields and huge, mostly oblivious flocks of sheep ought to have made it an anti-climax - but Audi UK had an ace up its sleeve. In fact, it had two: rally legend Stig Blomqvist and the Quattro A2 that carried him to WRC glory in 1984.
Despite the absence of anything to crash into, we'd all been gently encouraged to keep it to under 50mph by Goodwood's good-natured instructor in the build-up. But Goodwood's instructor hadn't won the Drivers' Championship in the white heat of the Group B era, so his words were clearly taken with a pinch of salt by the seven-time winner of the Swedish rally. And good that he did, because the sight and sound of Blomqvist roaring away from the start made the whole endeavour worthwhile.
PH was in the rather more humble A1 Quattro. But you hardly need me to tell you that the limited-edition supermini neatly encapsulates many of the things which are appealing about Neckarsulm's product lineup. The A1 wasn't intended to be an all-wheel drive firebreather; it was meant as an affordable entry-level model for young people. Audi Sport had to significantly re-engineer the car to make it worthy of a quattro badge, and delivered a 256hp midget gem in the process. It was so manifestly good that its parent was forced to mass produce a tweaked version under the S-brand two years later.
Producing cars that trigger fist-biting covetousness in even normally sane people is an Audi Sport speciality. It has repeated the trick again and again in 40 years, and while it has occasionally borrowed from others, it has been ruthlessly copied itself in the last two decades. There is much to be thankful for, and a lot to choose from. In hat-tipping testament to its output we've dipped into the classifieds for your viewing pleasure. The budget speaks for itself. Happy Birthday quattro.
A recent Wheeler Dealers episode influenced my decision this week; although Mr Brewer's example was a more humble S version, I'd forgotten how great all the A4s of that era looked. (In fact, it was a nice reminder, as I, um, Avant seen one on the road for ages...). A B5 RS4 is also the closest I could get to what I really wanted - an RS2. But £40k isn't enough for one of those in 2020.
The glossy black mirror finish and heavily detailed description points to a car that has been well looked after; buying from a PHer who has owned for 14 years and spent £50k on it over that period is also a big plus point. Admittedly, £23k for a 163,000 mile, 20-year-old car may not be the most obvious place to put that amount of cash, but the full rebuild detailed less than two years ago should provide ample peace of mind.
With engine work to liberate 440hp (or just 10hp less than a new RS4), there's little danger of the B5 feeling its age in a straight line. And if it isn't a classic already, the first RS4 surely will be in time. Finally, of course, there's no need to worry about resale - or mileage - if you're never going to sell...
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Audi quattro, what better choice can there be than an original? This one's a bit cheeky given the ad is POA but the auction guide price is around £30k, well within budget, so Nic tells me I can have it. The sale is on November 13th-14th, if you're interested...
This historic car is full of intrigue, especially that Bauhaus minimalism you can only get from a car produced in West Germany. I'm obsessed with the manual switches and knobs that characterise German cars of the era, especially that differential lock selector and Back To The Future gauge cluster. Then, of course, those arches serve to remind everyone that this really is something special.
Of course, we buy cars for the driving experience and that's the reason why this car is so celebrated. Genuinely gamechanging cars don't come along all that often, but we all know that's exactly what the quattro did 40 years ago. As first mass market vehicle to have a turbocharged engine with power going to all four wheels, fast cars wouldn't be the same again after the seminal Audi. I'm no Stig Blomqvist (just look at my EnduroKa lap times) but I'm sure this Audi, along with some imagination, would make me feel like I could easily win the Monte Carlo Rally.
560hp from a twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 estate car with five seats. That sentence to me is pure all-round car fun, the one car to cover most bases in your driving needs. The C7 returned the RS6 to its roots with a forced induction V8, and ensured monstrous performance: 100mph comes up in less than nine seconds.
This car is also pre-facelift C7, a look which I much prefer. While subtle against the C8 replacement, the arches and exhausts ensure you'll notice if this RS6 passes by. The matt grey wrap may not be to all tastes, and 22-inch wheels are a bit silly given the standard 21s - but both these things are easily reversible. For me, this is all the car I'd ever want; big enough for my family needs, wickedly fast and my ideal RS Audi!
Funny, isn't it, how something as simple as a change of bodystyle can completely transform your opinions on a car. Or perhaps it's just me. 911 Convertible? No thanks. But Targa? Absolutely yes. A four-door M car appeals a lot more than a two-door and I swoon over AMG estates in a way I never quite lust after the saloons.
Same with the RS3. Not bothered by the hatch at all, but I think the saloon is ace. Which, given their similarities, is a bit daft. Inevitable comparisons will be drawn here thanks to the power and the size with the B7 RS4. And I'll be the first to concede that the five-cylinder car doesn't quite match the V8 for sheer driver enjoyment. That said it's better than you might think; the facelift that brought in this saloon also saving some weight from that wonderful engine and the car less nose heavy as a result.
I've chosen this particular RS3 because, as an earlier car, it should have escaped the addition of a WLTP filter - what's the point of having an Engine of the Year if you can't hear it? And, to be entirely honest, I just really liked the BBS wheels. What don't they work well on?
Has there ever been a car which so comprehensively redefined perception of a brand? (Yes, alright, the R8 - but Sam pinched that.) Before 2005 the overwhelming majority of sporty Audis were actually anything but. Fast beyond question, but often a hotchpotch of handling attributes: stiff yet inert, aggressive but numb - too often unrewarding and memorable all at the same time.
That all changed with the B7. What was once obstinate and unwilling became fluid. The RS4 has a cohesiveness which few Audi models of any stripe can claim to equal. The word most frequently used to describe it in East Sussex was 'lovely' and that just about covers it. Factor in the cold, hard fact that its maker is never ever going to build a manual V8 wagon again, and you have a car for the ages.
This one costs little more than half the budget, but is about as good an RS4 as you can buy. The mileage is modest when you think that it's 15 years-old next year. Its single owner appears to have cared lovingly for it, too - and, most remarkably of all. it's escaped any kind of window tinting whatsoever. Any RS4 Avant is cool enough, but there's only one legend. You're looking at it.
I can't help thinking that one day we'll look back on a multitude of cheap R8s and wonder how so much was available for so little. Because right now, for less than the price of a new S3, you can buy a decent example of the best car Audi has ever built. Period.
The R8 genius was in bringing together great Audi bits - style, quality, engineering prowess and a sense of occasion - with genuine sports car attributes. It steered beautifully, rode like a Lotus, revved to 8,500rpm and came as standard with an open-gated six-speed manual. The Porsche 911 has never faced such a threat to its place as the go-to everyday sports car, before or since.
It was as easy to drive as an A4 but rivalled the very best for driver satisfaction - what else really is there? That little more than £35k buys a presentable, 60,000-mile car only sealed the deal. Don't forget, either, that V10s are only a little more expensive...
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