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The ULTIMATE cure for those Quattro blues
Well, sorry folks, but after moaning how disappointing my 1990 90q20v was
after my Ford Sierra/Merkur 2.9v6 4x4, I've chucked in the towel and bought
another Ford to replace the 90.
Now, I'm the first to admit that a 90q20v is one of the lower powered
Quattros, but my budget simply wouldn't stretch to a turbo or 2.8 beast.
I've got to say, given that we're talking similar specs and age, to my mind
an XR4x4 beats the pants of a 90q20v. Here's why:
* The Ford has a big old 2.9v6. Its not highly tuned, but its got
PLENTY of low-end torque. Peak bhp is less (150, compared to 178?) but its
the USABILITY of the grunt which is the main benefit. The power is between
2000 and 4000rpm as opposed to over 4500rpm on the Audi.
* The 4x4 system is pretty basic - just a fixed 40front/60rear split.
But this makes for GREAT handling, which gives the ability to induce easily
controllable oversteer at the drop of a hat. To me the Quattro always felt
WAY to neutral in its handling - no FUN at all.
* In practicality terms, a 5 door hatch is ALWAYS going to score over
a 4 door saloon - ESPECIALLY when half of the Quattro's boot was taken up by
the fuel tank.
* An XR4x4 costs just over half the price of the 90q20v of the same
vintage but, even if the prices were reversed, I'd go for the Sierra every
* There are HEAPS of tweeks available for Sierras - all at reasonable
The ONLY place the Audi scores over the Sierra is in terms of "class" - but
I couldn't give a hoot about that. I want entertaining grunt and handling,
at a reasonable price.
PLEASE, before you discount this as the ramblings of an idiot, bear in mind
that I went into the whole Audi experience in a very positive frame of mind.
I'd just had the engine on my Ford go when it sucked water in through the
air intake after driving through a flood. I was keen to buy a suitable
replacement, namely a sporty 4x4. Given that things like Subaru's were out
my price range, and that I felt like upgrading from a "boring" Sierra, an
Audi seemed the ideal choice. I'd enjoyed the Quattro dominance in BTCC,
and read up about Torsen diffs - and set my heart on a 90q20v.
At first the novelty value kept me on a high but, as the honeymoon period
wore off, I became increasingly aware that the Audi had a number of fairly
* The 2.3 20v engine was unimpressive. It had a narrow torque band
high in the rev range. To ensure that acceleration was always "eager" I had
to drive with the revs over 4000rmp all the time.
* Torsen diff produced vague and unpredictable handling. (The Ford
could be made to turn more crisply by the application of controlled
* The driving position was uncomfortable. I'm not abnormal in size
(5'8"?), but I had to put the seat at its lowest position to avoid my head
touching the roof. The pedals were too high, and slightly to one side. The
wheel was not height or tilt adjustable.
* The boot was WAY too small - because it contained the fuel tank.
In an attempt to improve the situation, I made a could of small
modifications. I had the cat removed - this improved the engines willingness
at rev freely, but did not affect low-end torque. I re-shod the car with
Yokohama A520s - this improved the grip, but not the torsen-dominated
I gave the Audi 6 months to win me over, but I'm afraid it failed to do so -
so I've now replaced it with a Ford Sierra XR4x4 - and pocketed the 3000ukp
To be completely honest - I feel very disappointed. It is my belief that
the 90q20v, for all its sporty looks, is NOT a sporty 4x4 car. It is a
modest family saloon with Quattro fitted to help folks when it snows.
Whereas the Sierra *IS* a sporty car, and the 4x4 is there for PERFORMANCE
My advice to all potential 90q20v owners?
Get an XR4x4 - its more fun, more rewarding to drive, and is half the price!
<stands well back to avoid being flame-grilled> ;-)
Andrew Jackson (Berkshire, UK)