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B3/B4 80/90/Cpe model history/buying (long)
I found this article in 'GTI tuning & design' a Dutch magazine for fans of
the Opel Kadett GSI/Golf GTI etc. It usually contains horribly 'uprated'
cars, but their tech articles are pretty good. The info in this article,
although very good, is Euro/Holland-biased- not too much quattro-specific
stuff. I thought those among you in the US might like this overview of Euro
Hope you like it!
'Any which way you like it...
Audi 80, 90 and Coupe: numerous engine and equipment options.'
The first Audi 80 was introduced in september 1966. The model in this
article came onto the market exactly twenty years later. Where the original
(now classic) version had 80 hp under the hood, its modern successor had to
make do with 75 hp. The Audi 80 would've never made it onto the pages of
'GTI tuning & design' if Audi'd left it at this...
The third generation of the Audi 80 was introduced on the IAA Motor Show in
Frankfurt. The car was received with much acclaim by press and public
alike- not in the least because of its distinctive design, which made it
clearly recognisable as an Audi. Maybe the design wasn't such a surprise-
the 80 continued the trend started in the Autumn of '82 with the very
advanced Audi 100. The 80, like the 100 before it, broke with the 'square'
design of its predecessor. Another notable feature was the large glass area
which made for excellent visibility- but as a drawback made the car very
susceptible to warming up in the sun.
Like the Audi 100/200 several years before it, the 80 was treated to a
fully-galvanized bodyshell, which carried a six-year anti-corrosion
warranty. A lot of time was spent perfecting the painting process. A number
of safety measures made the new 80 one of the safest cars in its class-
even safer than many more expensive cars.
Standard engine on the 80 was a 1781 cc four-cylinder unit with overhead
camshaft and 75 hp/55 kW, mounted longitudinally. That wasn't enough for
the more sporting driver even in '86, although the excellent, wind
tunnel-developed, aerodynamics made a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph)
There was no blaming the wind tunnel that the 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) jaunt
took as much as 13.8 seconds. The major benefit of the aero shape though,
was that the 80 was a modest drinker- one litre per 11 km was easily done
for even the quicker driver. If you'd ordered the (optional) five-speed
transmission, 1 litre every 12 km was no problem. The optional (non-lambda)
catalytic converter didn't make any difference on fuel consumption. From
early '87 there was an optional automatic transmission.
Somewhat more sporting than the base version was the 1.8S, also a 1781 cc
with 88 hp/66 kW and a top speed of 179 km/h (112 mph) (hmmm... my 1.8S
showed close to 195 km/h on the speedo on more than one occasion! -T) Top
speed was also attained in fourth gear with the 5-speed transmission. The
1.8S did 0-100 km/h in 11.8 seconds. If you got the optional
lambda-controlled cat, 100 km/h was reached in 11.5 s. The 1.8S was also
the cheapest way to drive a quattro- which improved the driving experience
no end, albeit at the cost of 0.8s longer 0-100 times. A five-speed
transmission was standard on the quattro version.
The real fun started with the 1.8E though- with a five-speed as standard
and FWD or quattro drivetrain. The engine had 112 hp/82 kW and gave the car
a top speed of 194 km/h (121 mph). The 0-100 sprint took 9.6 seconds (9.9
for the quattro) if you tried hard.
If you wanted more than that there was the 1.9E (1847 cc), also as FWD and
quattro, with 113 hp/83 kW. The 1 extra hp increased top speed by 1 km/h,
while acceleration was unchanged from the 1.8E.
There were also a couple of diesels. The normally-aspirated one, with 54
hp, was so 'quick' that one started in '86 seems to have reached 100 km/h
recently. The turbodiesel had 80 hp which gave it roughly the same
performance as the standard petrol engine.
Roadholding of the Audi 80 was no cause for complaints. The suspension was
McPherson front, torsion beam axle with coil springs rear. Not exciting,
but modern enough. Springs were described as quite firm, but not
uncomfortable. Every 80 was equipped with 175/70 SR14 rubber, but if you
wanted to spend some more cash (options lists were incredibly long), 195/60
was also available. Up to the 90 hp versions, all FWD 80s had disc brakes
front, drums rear. The quattros and all more powerful versions left the
factory with vented front discs and solid rears.
All but the base model could be ordered with the optional Sports package-
sports seats, leather steering wheel, leather gearshift knob and gearshift
gaiter, three extra gauges in the centre console and a spoiler on the trunk
For the 1988 model year, the model lineup was dratically simplified for
Holland and Belgium. For the petrol versions, there was a new 75 hp 1.8,
the 88 hp 1.8S, the 113 hp 1.9E and the 1.9E quattro. The interior was now
available in several 'packages'- for Holland Crayon, Serret and Kodiak; for
Belgium Crayon, Pirell and Fluweel (Velvet). The optional Sports version
featured (among others) even more hip-hugging sports seats.
An entirely new model from May '87 was the Audi 90- sharing the base
bodyshell with the 80 but better appointed internally and externally. The
90 was easily recognizable by its light units in the front bumper. For the
driver, the most important difference was under the hood. Base engine was a
115 hp/85 kW five-cylinder 2.0E engine with 165 Nm (224 lb ft) at 4000 rpm.
This pointed to the high-revving character of this engine- the 1.9E scored
160 Nm at 3400 rpm.
Top speed for the 2.0E was 196 km/h, 0-100 took 9.8 seconds. The 2.3E
topped this comfortably with 136 hp/100 kW and the same went for the torque
with 190 Nm (258 lb ft) at 4500 rpm. Flooring the pedal made it possible to
do 206 km/h (129 mph) with a 0-100 of 8.6 seconds. A nice bonus was the
still very reasonable fuel consumption: 1 litre per 10 km was possible even
when driving moderately hard. Only the 2.3E was available as a quattro, but
without a performance hit compared to the FWD version this time, although
fuel consumption figures took a bit of a dive.
For the '89 model year, there was yet another change in the available
engines. The 75 and 88 hp 1.8 engines remained- the 1.9E was axed and
replaced by the (returning) 1.8E- in FWD and quattro versions. Notable was
the anti-corrosion warranty increased to 10 years, provided original Audi
parts were used for body repairs. The 90 was now available with a 2.3E 20v
five-cylinder with no less than 170 hp at 6000 rpm and 220 Nm (298 lb ft)
at 4500 rpm. Enough to reach 218 km/h (136 mph) and 0-100 km/h of 7.8 s.
This new engine was even more in its proper place in the new Coupe (its
angular predecessor was last available in '87), available in Holland from
February '89. This car borrowed heavily from the 90's technical base,
without the number 90 appearing in the type designation. The front end
looked much like that of the sedan, the rear end was distinctive but
clearly Audi. Alloy wheels with 205/60 VR15 were standard, and the quattro
topped that with beautiful three-part Speedline wheels. The Coupe cost more
than Dfl 71k (some $37k nowadays) with the 2.3 10-valver, making it more
than Dfl 8k more expensive than a comparable 90. The quattro 20v cost a
massive Dfl 105.5k.
Some Dfl 9k less bought you the new-from-late '89 90 quattro 20v Sport,
similar in mechanicals and equipment. The quattro Sport (the 'Sport' stood
for extra equipment) was also available with the 2.3 10v.
The 80 line-up was also overhauled, a rather gutless 1.6 with 70 hp now
becoming the base engine, followed by a 90 hp 1.8.
Much more interesting were the 2.0E (113 hp) and 2.0E 16v (137 hp), both
available as FWD or quattro AWD. This meant that Audi had two different
2.0-litre engines: the 1984 cc four in the 80 and the 1994 cc five in the
The 16-valver was introduced during 1990, as was the Coupe 2.0E with a 113
hp four-cylinder. Late 1990 saw the introduction of the greed-inducing S2
Coupe, with a 220 hp 2.2-litre five-cylinder turbo intercooled engine,
which took you from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. Quattro AWD was standard on
this successor of the classic quattro, and it featured 16 inch wheels.
In the Autumn of '91, a totally revised Audi 80 was introduced. Despite
this car looking much like its predecessor, the design was so heavily
changed that Audi called it a new generation. The body was larger from the
outside as well as the inside. A different rear axle finally provided the
80 with the trunk befitting of this class. The '90' designation was axed.
The new 80 was among other things distinguishable by its hood with
incorporated grill and flared fenders. For the introduction, there were
three petrol engines and two diesels: 2.0 (90 hp/66 kW), 2.0 (115 hp/85
kW), 2.3E (133 hp/98 kW), and the all-new 2.8E V6 with 174 hp/128 kW at
5500 rpm and a torque of 245 Nm (332 lb ft) at 3000. The five- and
six-cylinder engines were also available as a quattro.
Besides the 'tame' 1.9TD there was also a 90 hp TDI, which -although still
no cannonball- made driving a diesel more bearable. Even the TD was faster
than the new base model 71 hp 1.6E though, which was introduced in the
Spring of '92. The basically unchanged Coupe could be had with the 2.0E
four, the 2.3E five or the 2.8E V6, the V6 also as a quattro.
The S2 was of course only available in quattro form. The new Cabriolet was
derived from the Coupe and initially available as a 2.3E only.
The '93 model year brought another addition to the family with the
introduction of the Avant, a station wagon version. Normally we won't
mention these cars much in this magazine, but Audi's new baby appealed to
the sporting driver as well. The Avant wasn't much of a load carrier, but
that was beside the point.
Newcomer in the engine lineup was the 2.6E V6, with an output of 150 hp/110
kW. The Coupe S2 got a power hike in the summer of '92- 220 to 230 hp, and
a six-speed instead of a five-speed transmission. While the power hike
wasn't spectacular, it gained a lot of torque: 308 Nm of the old model
became 380 Nm (515 lb ft) for the new- with a flat torque curve between
2100 and 4000 rpm. The 0-100 km/h sprint was dispensed with in 5.9 seconds.
The brand-new Avant S2 needed 6.1 and did 'only' 242 km/h (151 mph), 6 km/h
less than the Coupe. From Summer '93 the sedan was also available in S2
form. Unfortunately, the price of nearly Dfl 125k meant that most of us had
to do without one.
In the Autumn of '93, the Avant gained top acclaim by the introduction to
the Porsche-developed Avant RS2. This superfast and super-expensive (price
on application) station wagon had a 315 hp/232 kW engine enabling
'explosive' performance, although the weight had risen to 1600 kg (2.3E
quattro: 1310 kg). The Swiss magazine 'Automobil Revue' recorded a 0-100
km/h time of 5.3 seconds. 100 mph was reached in 13.1 s... a Porsche 911
Carrera 4 had a hard time matching that. Speaking of Porsche: the RS2's
alloys are of the Porsche Cup-type.
1995 was the final year for the 80, after which the A4 was introduced. To
celebrate this, the 1.6E was axed- something we didn't mourn over. Standard
equipment showed some changes, too. A nice addition to the already
extensive line-up was the limited-edition '80 Competition'. Only 2500 of
these cars were made, of which 100 were imported in Holland. The car was a
homologation special for the German ADAC Touring Car Cup and the Italian
championship. The 'Competition' featured a 140 hp 2.0 16v engine, quattro
drivetrain, lowered suspension and 7Jx16 alloys. Nothing much changed for
the Coupe and Cabriolet, although the 2.6E engine was introduced. The
drastic price reductions in '96 were a sign that the Coupe didn't have long
to live- the reductions could get as high as Dfl 21k. For those who'd
bought a Coupe within six months before this price reduction, the importer
had a special deal- if you'd bought it _just_ before that, you were SOL.
The Cabriolet stayed in production a little longer and was last available
in '98 (huh? the brochures are still at the dealerships and there's a Cab
in the importer's showroom, too! -T)
Buying: fun starts from 112 hp
Looking for a sporting car? Don't even consider the weaker-engined models.
For the older models, the fun starts with the 112 hp 1.8E, which as a
five-speed as standard, too. For the newer models, this 112 hp is the bast
starting point, too. And there's no reason not to be picky, because the 80
is not exactly a scarce commodity on the used-car market in Holland. More
fun can be had with the five- and six-cylinder models- although the sixes
are younger, and therefore more expensive. The S2 and RS2 need no further
comment- there are few cars in this class that offer so much driving
Driving an Audi is very different from getting behind the wheel of your
average sporting Italian car, for instance. The first thing you notice is
the overwhelming sense of solidity. Even the factory-built sporting
versions are a little 'sterile', as if the Audi engineers had decided 'not
to add too much atmosphere'. A nice carbon or alloy-look dash kit would
improve this considerably. Changing the dull four-spoke steering wheel
(some with an airbag) for a smaller sports wheel makes for a good and
functional driving environment. The seats are good, all stalks and switches
are in the right place. The front wheel driven cars are moderately
understeered and vice-free, but it doesn't really give that 'seat of the
pants' feel a BMW does.
If you might happen upon an older model without power-assisted steering,
the fun's over. Nearly four turns lock to lock, and a lot of strength is
needed for parking (no kidding! -T) . The quattros corner incredibly fast
in all situations. In sharper turns, a quattro shows mild understeer. In
long fast turns, it handles exceptionally neutral. Of course the benefits
of the quattro system are even bigger in the wet.
The later 80s have a stiffer body, which improves handling a lot.
With regards to known problems and weak spots there's little worth
mentioning. The galvanised body doesn't rust- even early cars are usually
spotless. Still, it's not a bad idea to have the car given an anti-rust
treatment, as welds and panel edges can rust due to cracking from torsion.
It might take as long as fifteen years for thse problems to surface, though.
A respray is a critical job- if sanding takes the thin galvanising off, the
protection's gone. If you don't want rust to take over, use original panels
in case of crash repairs. If you don't you'll lose the ten year
anti-corrosion warranty on younger cars.
Mechanically, there's little cause for concern either. When the engine is
maintained correctly and the cam belt is changed according to schedule, the
engines are very long-lived. Newer 80s sometimes have problems with engine
If you drive sensibly (don't gun it when the engine's still cold), all
engines can easily do 300k km (190 k miles). High-mileage higher-powered
front-wheel drivers sometimes suffer from worn CV joints- easily detected.
Parts and labour for this job are somewhere in the vicinity of Dfl 500.
Aftermarket exhausts are much cheaper than OE. If you don't go for
bargain-basement, quality won't have to suffer too much- even OE exhausts
tend to rust sometimes.
Body panels are more expensive from the dealer, too- but saving money here
isn't a good idea: you'll lose the galvanised finish.
Oil leaks from transmission or differential are not uncommon. A slight
'sweating' is nothing to worry about, but unless you're good at repairs
it's better to avoid cars that leak badly here. The early cars also suffer
from play in the suspension- which is usually cured by fitting new bushings.
Although body rust is fully under control, the same can't be said for brake
pipes. Replacement won't break the bank, though.
How much for which car?
Almost all 80s and 90s have done at least 100k km. Cars with less than 200k
are rare, but this is no reason not to buy as long as the car has been
maintained well, and has the service booklet to show for this (which IMO
generally isn't worth the paper it's printed on unless substantiated by the
car's condition -T) An eight-year-old car with an LPG conversion (or signs
that such an installation has been fitted in the past) with no more than
130k km on the odo is a sure sign of clocking. These cars were popular as
leased company cars, and 120k km in three years is no exception. An early
80 in good condition should cost no more than Dfl 6k. There are bargains,
but they won't be in as-new condition. A nice example from 1990 or '91 will
cost between Dfl 9 and 11k, depending on equipment and mileage. The 90,
from May '87, is slightly more expensive than a comparable 80- but the
difference is too small to resist the five-cylinder. A really nice 90 from
circa '88 will cost you about Dfl 8k, about Dfl 1k more than the equivalent
80. The late-model 80 will cost between Dfl 11.5k and 13k for an example
with a 2.3E engine. A '95 sedan will cost between Dfl 22k and 25k,
depending on spec. An Avant will cost you a couple of thousand more, as
it's a very popular car. A top-of-the-range '95 80 will cost you Dfl 30k or
more. And the RS2's value isn't clearly defined- it's an enthousiast's car
which is priced accordingly.
A Coupe is within reach from circa Dfl 15k. For this, you'll get an '89. A
nice '92 S2 will cost you about 25k and 30k- and it's worth paying extra
for one with good maintenance records, especially in the case of this
Newer means -naturally- more expensive. Quattros- of every body type-
generally cost a few thousand more. If you can find one that suits your
taste, that is, because they're pretty rare in our flat country. That
might've had something to do with the price of the quattro option when new-
a quattro might handle better than its front-wheel-driven brethren, but a
price hike of Dfl 15k including taxes was somewhat OTT for most buyers.
From: GTI tuning & design, April '99