Debate 200 20V vs. v8 - Long

todnad at todnad at
Tue Nov 23 13:49:22 EST 2004

Automobile Magazine page 19 (date unknown) 
Audi 200 Quattro 20V Turbo 
Cheaper and better than the V8 
On paper, Audi's top-of-the-line model is the V8 sedan.  On the road, however, the glitzy flagship is outclassed and outperformed by the new 200 Quattro 20V, which costs approximately $10,000 less. 
"The V8 aims at a different clientele than the new 200" explains spokesman Rudolf Schiller.  "It is more lavishly equipped, it is more refined, and it comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, which admittedly affects the performance." 
Too true.  The 240-bhp, 3946-pound V8 automatic takes 9.2 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, has a 146-mph top speed, and averages 14 mpg on the city cycle in the United States.  The turbocharged and intercooled engine of the 200 Quattro 20V delivers an almost-as-impressive 220 bhp.  Mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, the 2.2-liter in-line five propels the much lighter sedan - 3517 pounds, a 429-pound difference - from 0 to 60 in only 6.6 seconds.  Maximum speed is 151 mph, and fuel consumption works out favorably at 22.4 mpg. 
Derived from the limited-edition Sport Quattro unit, the new five-cylinder engine is every bit as good in real life as these figures suggest.  It combines torque and performance in a civilized fashion that makes most rival six- and eight-cylinder units pale.  Engineering highlights include forged pistons, an aluminum cross-flow cylinder head, a large intercooler, a brace of free-flow catalysts, and an electronic engine management system governing fuel feed, ignition timing, and idle speed. 
Unlike the normally aspirated 2.3-liter 20V unit of the Audi Coupe Quattro (see story in this issue), the turbo engine boasts plenty of low-end torque as well as ample top-end go.  The torque curve, as flat as Ayers Rock, peaks at an early 1950 rpm, where 223 pound-feet are available.  Without losing steam or pausing for breath, the 2226 cc powerhouse churns happily from there to its ambitious 7000-rpm redline. 
Although it must work hard to deliver the goods, the twenty-valve turbo surprises with its lack of vibration and comparatively low noise.  Performance and driveability are indeed impressive; one finds it hard to believe that this engine has only five cylinders, a displacement of only 2.2 liters, and a humble cast-iron block. 
All 220-bhp Audi 200s come with a five-speed manual transmission and with the second-generation Quattro four-wheel-drive system.  The five-speed box is no revelation:  it suffers from fairly long throws, vague shift action, and a very tall top gear.  The Quattro hardware, on the other hand, is as convincing as ever.  It features a variable-torque split Torsen center differential as well as a manual rear-axle diff lock that disengages automatically above 16 mph. 
The suspension is in principal identical to that of the lesser 200 Quattro, but the 20-V version is fitted with stiffer springs, tauter shock absorbers, and fatter 215/60ZR-15 gumballs.  The anti-lock brake system with four large-diameter vented disks is taken from the V8, and the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering comes straight from the Audi 100. 
With the exception of some bump-thump and pronounced brake dive, the chassis of the 200 Quattro 20V is virtually faultless.  Unlike the mushy and indifferent V8, the 200 feels taut, well balanced, and surprisingly agile.  Despite some body roll, the car is always stable and poised, eagerly following the instructions issued by the quick and light steering. 
Through corners fast or slow, the big Audi remains neutral under power until the g-loads gradually enforce a nose-heavy four-wheel drift.  Mild understeer can be provoked by a combination of turn-in and lift-off.  This subtle front-to-rear weight transfer suits the enthusiest driver, who will also appreciate the powerful brakes, the progressive clutch, and the instant throttle response. 
Although the roots of the 200 date back almost seven years, this latest metamorphosis of the low-drag five-seater - or even its sister wagon - is without a doubt the most homogeneous model Audi offers.  The 200 looks slightly dated now, and it could do with certain detail improvements like an adjustable steering column and longer seat runners, but as a driving machine, the twenty-valve variant fears few rivals, least of all its own V-8-engined stablemate. 
The big question marks are whether and when the new model will come to the United States.  So far, Audi has not announced a decision, but the Ingolstadt grapevine suggests the federalized 20V Turbo may be introduced late next year, together with the overdue automatic transmission.  - Georg Kacher 
The 200 Quattro 20V may not be as expensive as the Audi V8, but it is several hundred pounds lighter, faster from zero to sixty, and beats the flagship's handling.  Engineers wrung impressive performance and smoothness from a humble iron-block in-line five by employing forged pistons, a cross flow cylinder head with four valves per cylinder, intercooling, and turbocharging. 
(Sedan photo) 
AUDI 200 QUATTRO 20V TURBO (European model) 
Base price (approximate) $37,500 
Front engine, 4-wheel-drive sedan, 5 passenger, 4-door steel body 
Turbocharged 20-valve DOHC 5-in-line, 136 cu in (2226 cc) 
Power DIN 220 bhp @ 5700 rpm 
5-speed manual transmission 
Independent front and rear suspension, power assisted rack-and-pinion steering 
12.2-inch vented front, 10.6-in vented rear disc brakes 
Anti-lock system 
215/60ZR-15 Firestone Firehawk tires 
Wheelbase 106.1 in 
Curb weight 3517 lb 
Fuel capacity 21.1 gal 

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