Ten million units – the Audi midsize models
Audi 80 / Audi A4
Midsize models are the heart of Audi – and have been for 39 years. The Audi 80 (launched in 1972) and its successor, the Audi A4, have always played the leading role for the brand with the four rings. The significant sales success of this class was proven once more in early October, when the ten millionth midsize Audi rolled off the assembly line: a Misano Red Audi S4. Many other midsize Audi cars – Sedan, Avant, Coupes, Cabriolet, S and RS models – also embodied key innovations. This is true not only of series-production vehicles, but also of racing cars and the Audi duo models, which featured hybrid technology far ahead of its time. The Audi midsize models exemplify Vorsprung durch Technik each and every time.
The Audi models in the midsize class – the Audi 80 and its successor, the Audi A4 – are the heart of the brand. The company recently celebrated a true milestone in production. In early October, the ten millionth midsize Audi rolled off the assembly line: a Misano Red Audi S4.
Right from the very first independent design, the 1972 Audi 80 (known internally as the B1), the brand with the four rings set new standards in lightweight design, performance, and agility. Four generations of the Audi 80 had been produced by 1994/95, when it was replaced by the Audi A4 – which is also currently in its fourth generation.
With its sporty, elegant design and many high-tech solutions, the latest Audi A4 is at the head of its class. A modified version will soon appear. The sedan, the Avant, the allroad quattro, and the S4 models now feature technologies which make them even more efficient and sporty – regarding the chassis, infotainment, and the engines.
Midsize vehicles have always played the leading role at Audi – and not just in terms of volume. Over the course of 39 years, they have embodied great innovations. The quattro drivetrain with a self-locking center differential, fully galvanized vehicle bodies, the four-cylinder TDI, S tronic, and the sport differential demonstrated time and again Audi’s expertise in Vorsprung durch Technik. The brand offered a hybrid model in the guise of the Audi duo as long ago as 1997.
Midsize Audi models have displayed excellence in motorsport, as well. The midsize class is namely home to legendary rally vehicles – the Audi quattro and Sport quattro – as well as superior circuit racing cars such as the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO, Audi 80 quattro, Audi 80 competition, Audi A4 quattro, and Audi A4 DTM. The Audi midsize class has always led the competition.
The Audi midsize class has always been among the leaders in its field of competitors. Right from the very first wholly independent design, the Audi 80 in 1972, the brand set new standards in modern engine technology, lightweight design, and agility. In the meantime, the sedans and Avants have evolved over eight generations to become the high-tech vehicles they are today.
1972 – 1978: The Audi 80 (B1)
Its harmonious and functional design was the brainchild of a young Hartmut Warkuß. His concept won through against a number of radically wedge-like designs, all of which were rejected by Ludwig Kraus, the Board Member for Technical Development.
The gasoline engines with the in-house development number 827, which would later give rise to an extensive family of engines, were created under the leadership of engine boss Franz Hauk. Four engines were available: displacement ranged from 1.3 to 1.6 liters and output from 40 kW (55 hp) to 74 kW (100 hp). One highlight of these high-revving and straightforward four-cylinder engines was valve timing controlled by means of an overhead camshaft driven by a toothed belt and bucket tappets.
The Audi 80 engine was longitudinally in front of the driven front axle, to the rear of which lay a four-speed transmission. MacPherson struts and transverse links controlled the front wheels. Chassis engineer Detlef Banholzer had realized, for the very first time in a European volume-production vehicle, a negative scrub radius – a solution which greatly enhanced stability during braking. The diagonally split dual-circuit brake system similarly was also highly complex. The rear suspension was a torsion crank axle with suspension struts.
The basic B1 model with two doors weighed just 835 kilograms (1,840.86 lb); Ludwig Kraus, head of Engineering, had demanded strict adherence to lightweight design. This sedan had very compact dimensions: a wheelbase of 2.47 meters (8.10 ft) and 4.18 meters (13.71 ft) in length. The Audi 80 quickly became a bestseller. By the time Audi stopped producing it in summer 1978, over a million units had been sold. An international panel of trade journalists declared it “Car of the Year” in 1972.
The model was updated in 1976, which included a switch to large block headlights. One year earlier the 1.5-liter engine had been discontinued and the GTE had replaced the GT. Its gasoline injection, yet another innovation, boosted output to 81 kW (110 hp). This latest top-of-the-line model hinted at the dynamics which Audi would soon unleash.
Franz Hauk: “The overhead camshaft was very modern”
“In the late 1960s, Audi wanted a midsize car weighing about 800 kilograms (1,763.70 lb) with a new water-cooled engine to be built. We developed a powerful, low-maintenance engine which was a good match for the vehicle. The engine’s 1.3-liter version barely weighed 100 kilograms (220.46 lbs).
Back then, an overhead camshaft was a truly trailblazing solution. It was driven by a toothed belt. While we were refining the material for it, we realized that we would need a tensioning roller in order to offset changes in length. The valve gear with bucket tappets was a simple and sure solution, with good lubrication and minimal wear.
While talking with colleagues from Wolfsburg about a diesel engine based on our 827, we quickly realized that it wouldn’t be all that difficult. We could put the injection nozzle where the spark plug used to be and there was enough space for the swirl chamber, which was still a must at that time. The crankshaft was dimensioned for sufficient strength, and the ratio between stroke and bore was not unfavorable. The rest was a matter of tweaking.”
Folkmar Pfeiffer: “The first Audi 80 was very lightweight and agile”
“The first-generation Audi 80 was a very light and sporty car to drive. It was much faster and had better handling than its predecessor, the Audi 60. The negative scrub radius was its groundbreaking innovation. Thanks to this, a driver could brake without the vehicle pulling to one side – even on surfaces with different coefficients of friction.
The vehicle which helped us to develop the B1 was the Audi 60, which featured the new chassis components. Even back then, we conducted severe tests and trials: on jolting routes with cylindrical troughs and bumps as well as roads covered with saltwater or loose gravel. We subjected our vehicles to every awful thing imaginable, only to be amazed time and again by just how much they could withstand.”
1978 – 1986: The Audi 80 (B2)
Audi had maintained the predecessor model’s mechanics in many regards while improving many of the details. The fuel tank was placed vertically in the crash-resistant zone behind the rear seats; more rigid doors improved impact protection; the chassis was reconfigured for greater comfort.
The first diesel engine, a swirl-chamber naturally-aspirated unit, made its appearance in the Audi range in 1980. From a displacement of 1.6 liters, it developed 40 kW (54 hp); as of 1982, a turbocharger boosted performance to 51 kW (70 hp). The efficiency of this diesel was astounding. During a long-distance drive on public roads in September 1981, a team of journalists driving extremely smoothly averaged just 2.3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (102.27 US mpg)!
Fuel prices were high in the early 1980s. Audi therefore combined the 1.6-liter engine with two efficiency technologies in 1981: a start-stop system and a transmission with a high fifth-gear ratio. This “Formula E” package, which would later enhance other engines as well, reduced fuel consumption by as much as 22 percent. It was in the Audi lineup until 1984.
Another top-of-the-line Audi debuted in 1981: the Audi 80 CD was the first midsize model with a five-cylinder engine under the hood, a 1.9-liter unit generating 85 kW (115 hp). The Audi 80 quattro was launched in 1982: the first volume-built sedan in the world with permanent all-wheel drive. It had the same drivetrain, rear axle with transverse links, MacPherson struts, and disc brakes as the so-called “Ur-quattro” before it. The naturally aspirated version of this 2.2-liter, five-cylinder engine generated 100 kW (136 hp). A new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine debuted that same year.
In 1984, Audi updated the B car line; a new addition was the exclusive Audi 90 version, which was distinguished by visual enhancements, more upmarket equipment, and five-cylinder engines. Three-way catalytic converters were introduced for some engines. The B2 family reached the end of the road in 1986, with almost 1.4 million units of the Audi 80 and over 100,000 units of the Audi 90 having been built.
Hartmut Warkuß: “Every Audi has always been perfect for its time”
When I began working at Audi in Ingolstadt in 1968, the Styling division (as it was then known) was still located off-site at the Friedenskaserne. We moved into the new Development Center in 1971, and in 1976 I assumed overall responsibility for Audi Design. We honed our design language step by step; every one of our vehicles was just right for the times. Of all the B series vehicles, I am especially fond of the B5: it was my last midsize Audi before I started working at Volkswagen in 1993. That vehicle was a giant leap forward for Audi Design – from understatement to statement.”
1986 – 1991: The Audi 80 (B3)
Design boss Hartmut Warkuß and his team had draped the B3 in a smooth and rounded body with a discreet wedge shape. This body distinguished itself with harmonious design solutions and a drag coefficient of just 0.29 – a colossal advance compared to 0.41 for the B2. Upon request, Audi supplied a safety system known as procon-ten (programmed contraction tension). In the event of a frontal crash, steel cables running round the engine and transmission block drew the steering wheel away from the driver and tensioned the front seat belts.
Five-cylinder engines, however, were reserved for a high-end model version launched in spring 1987: the Audi 90. The larger of the two engines available for it had grown to 2.3 liters of displacement. A new two-liter, four-cylinder engine generating 83 kW (113 hp) appeared in the Audi 80 in 1988. A year later, the diesel expanded to 1.9 liters of displacement. The naturally aspirated version produced 50 kW (69 hp) and the turbocharged version 59 kW (80 hp). Until 1989, all gasoline engines had controlled three-way catalytic converters. Sporty four-valve versions of four-cylinder and five-cylinder engines followed in 1989/90.
quattro models were available from day one. The self-locking center differential replaced the drivetrain’s mechanical limited-slip differential and made it possible to implement an ABS system. 1.3 million units were built in five years, as well as at least 140,000 units of the Audi 90.
Tilmann Stoßberg: “Full galvanization sent a clear message”
“When we started designing the B3, we knew that the exterior would need to be a few millimeters shorter and the interior considerably longer compared to the B2. Nobody thought that could be done. But we pulled it off, thanks to diligent attention to detail in every department.
Even in the 1980s, saving energy was very important. Our pre-development specialists had set a goal of achieving a drag coefficient below 0.20 for the B3. My colleagues did indeed manage to create just such a prototype, including an underbody fairing and other measures. Its design was – shall we say – very unusual, so we sought the best-possible solution: an ideal balance of an appealing style and high fuel efficiency. Sales figures would ultimately validate our decisions.
We took a huge step forward regarding the metal sheet. Even with the Audi 100, the C3, we had opted for a fully galvanized body; the B3 had one, too. This decision had an impact on all of Production – from the body-manufacturing shop to the paint shop – and didn’t exactly make things easier. But it was the right decision: a clear and unmistakable message to customers about Audi quality.”
1991 – 1995: The Audi 80 (B4)
The Audi 80 had grown considerably – to 4.48 meters (14.70 ft) and a wheelbase of 2.61 meters (8.56 ft). Important zones of the vehicle body had been made more impact-resistant. The driver airbag replaced the procon-ten system in 1993; the front-passenger airbag as well as ABS were added in 1994. The especially powerful engines were available right from the start with quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
The B4 debuted with a wide array of engines. The 1.9 TDI with 66 kW (90 hp) was a technologically pioneering development: the first passenger car to feature an electronically controlled, four-cylinder turbodiesel with direct injection. At the other end of the spectrum was a V6 – adopted from the Audi 100 – with a displacement of 2.8 liters and 128 kW (174 hp). It was the first six-cylinder engine in a midsized Audi. A 2.6-liter version followed in 1992, and in 1993 Audi added a sporty two-liter four-valve engine.
Yet another successful move concerned the introduction of powerful versions with quattro drive. Known by their S and RS designations, these high-performance models created quite a stir. Audi sold more than 800,000 units of the fourth-generation Audi 80, with the Avant contributing to this success with almost 180,000 models purchased.
Walter Wilde: “Attention to detail”
“Regarding the B4, we wanted to improve anew the operating convenience and the appearance – as with every new model line. Considerable improvements were no longer possible; after all, the B3 was already excellent. We therefore had to pay even more attention to detail. Customers often find a vehicle comfortable and luxurious without quite knowing why. One pivotal factor is that every part you can see boasts attractive styling. When you grasp a door handle, it is pleasing to the touch – because it is covered with a soft-touch coating. We pulled out all the stops to craft optimal solutions for the B4.
Nobody at Audi was ever allowed to call the Avant a station wagon; after all, it was something altogether different, a sporty recreation vehicle. That was the first time we had to extend the interior, and all of its luxurious details, all the way to the tailgate.”
1994 – 2000: The Audi A4 (B5)
The front of the vehicle was flatter and shorter than that of its predecessor model; there was no longer any room under the hood of this latest generation for the proven five-cylinder engines. The roof had become more free-flowing and the rear crisper; the contours now appeared more streamlined, robust, and dynamic. The B5 was the last major Audi design by Hartmut Warkuß, who moved to Wolfsburg in 1994. The new version of the Avant was honored with Germany’s renowned Award for Product Design.
Beneath its metal exterior, the Audi A4 boasted an all-new four-link front suspension; standard equipment included power steering and ABS. The rear’s torsion-beam suspension (double-wishbone suspension for the quattro) had been overhauled. Another innovation was five-valve technology for the 1.8-liter gasoline engine. Audi initially offered six engines – from a 1.9 TDI producing 66 kW (90 hp) to a 2.8-liter V6.
In early 1996, a 1.9 TDI with variable turbine geometry debuted, featuring 81 kW (110 hp); its output was upped to 85 kW (115 hp) in late 1999 by means of pump-nozzle injection. In 1995, a large V6 with five-valve technology managed 144 kW (193 hp); a new 2.4-liter engine superseded the 2.6-liter version at the end of 1997. That same year, a 2.5-liter V6 TDI joined the model line; this four-valve engine delivered 110 kW (150 hp) of output. Like most engines in the B5 family, this powerful diesel was optionally available with quattro drive.
In early 1999, this model line was given a facelift. During the six years it was manufactured, nearly 1.7 million units rolled out of Audi production facilities – among them over half a million Avant models.
2000 – 2004: The Audi A4 (B6)
The technical innovations of the B6 concentrated on the suspension. Thanks to the use of aluminum, the front four-link suspension shed 8.5 kilograms (18.74 lb). At the rear – as on the quattro models – there was a newly developed self-tracking trapezoidal-link design with separate springs and dampers. Alloy wheels, disk brakes, brake assist and the ESP stabilization program were all part of the standard specification.
The B6 arrived at dealers in five different engine versions, among them the 1.9 TDI now with an output of 96 kW (130 hp) and the new 3.0 V6 developing 162 kW (220 hp). The more powerful engine versions were also available with quattro drive. Audi supplied some front-wheel-drive models with the multitronic continuously variable transmission, the first midsize cars to feature this technology. The first gasoline direct injection unit made its debut in the A4 in mid 2002, with the 2.0 FSI developing 110 kW (150 hp). 2003 saw the arrival of a new generation of manual transmissions with five and six gears.
The new Audi A4 reached a production tally of 1.2 million units in just four years. The Avant continued to increase its share of total production, with almost 500,000 built.
2004 to 2008: The Audi A4 (B7)
The engine range started with the 1.6-liter version developing 75 kW (102 hp) and extended all the way up to the new 3.2 FSI, a direct-injection V6 with a power output of 188 kW (255 hp). The 2.0 TFSI was even more advanced: Available in three performance versions, the four-cylinder unit already combined FSI technology with a turbocharger.
Two new engine families of TDI made their appearance – the two-liter version with outputs of 103 kW (140 hp) and 125 kW (170 hp), and the V6 in 2.7 and 3.0 liter displacement versions with outputs of up to 171 kW (233 hp). From the start of 2006 the particulate filter was fitted as standard, and in mid-2007 the ultra-efficient 1.9 TDI e was added to the range. Typical of Audi was the extensive range of transmission versions – front-wheel and quattro drive, manual transmission, multitronic and tiptronic.
The suspension settings were comprehensively revised, and the third A4 generation had some attractive new operating and equipment features. The rain sensor, adaptive light and daytime running lights as standard (with xenon plus headlights) made their debut in the Audi midsize category. Production of the B7 ceased with the B7 Avant in March 2008, the total number of units built having reached one million.
2008: The Audi A4 (B8)
Extensive sections of the current Audi A4’s body are made from high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels, and the suspension incorporates a large number of aluminum components. One of the innovations is the Audi drive select system, which can be used to modify the operating response of a number of components. Buyers of the A4 can supplement it with adaptive damper control and dynamic steering, which has a variable ratio depending on road speed.
The engine range currently comprises six gasoline and seven diesel versions. They range in displacement between 1.8 and 3.2 liters, and in output between 88 kW (120 hp) and 195 kW (265 hp). Compared to the previous engine versions, they deliver higher performance and significantly better fuel economy.
The 3.2 FSI and 2.0 TFSI feature different versions of the Audi valvelift system, which improves torque through variable valve lift. A start-stop system is included in the standard specification on many engine versions. There is a particularly low emissions clean diesel version of the 3.0 TDI.
There are four technologies available for power transmission – the six-speed manual, the tiptronic, the multitronic and, putting in its first appearance in the midsize category, the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission with lightning-fast action. The quattro drive, available for most models, has a slight bias towards the rear. On the 3.2 FSI quattro and 3.0 TDI quattro, it can be paired with the sport differential which actively distributes the propulsive power between the rear wheels.
Other progressive aspects on the Audi A4 include ergonomics; the MMI operating system is its centerpiece. High-end features such as climate-controlled comfort seats and assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control make driving an even more relaxing business. The infotainment options include the MMI navigation plus with large hard drive and the Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The Audi A4 allroad quattro was added to the range in 2009. As a vehicle type designed for all kinds of roads and tracks, it is based on the Audi A4 Avant. Its ground clearance has been increased to 180 millimeters (7.09 in) and its body design is rather more robust. The engine range comprises a TFSI and three TDI versions.
The revised version of the Audi A4 will shortly be making its entrance – looking better than ever. The Sedan, the Avant, the allroad quattro and the S4 models will feature technologies to make them even more efficient and sporty – spanning everything from suspension and infotainment to the engines, with a new, even more economical 1.8 TFSI waiting in the wings. Minor design modifications lend visible expression to progress.
Wolfgang Egger: “The idea of the sporty midsize car”
“When you look at the B family model series as a group, you see the recurring theme – the idea of the sporty midsize car that has taken on increasingly distinct contours as the years have gone by. At Audi, our design work owes a huge amount to the technology. On the current B8 the engine has been moved slightly further back and the front wheels correspondingly forward – that has enabled us to realize an architecture that grows upward from the wheels and sits squarely on the road.
This very architecture determines the quality and value of the sculpture. When we finalize a sculpture, we don’t necessarily adhere to logic and the ruler. We start modeling and shaping, placing the emphasis on the emotional response to beauty. Of course we do make intensive use of modern technologies, we do modeling on the computer. That makes it much easier for us to create complex shapes.
Another theme that reflects our success in the premium segment is the face with the single-frame grille, which enjoys considerable status and symbolic power. We will continue to refine the single-frame grille and build it up. The same goes for the resolute look created by the headlights – it is an extremely important way of conveying its character.
In the past, the way design worked was that the Sedan was created first, then the other versions were derived from it. That sometimes necessitated compromises. Today, when we create a model family we take equal account of every single member. Far from being derivatives, an Avant and a Coupé are now independent, strong personalities.”
October 2011: The ten millionth midsize Audi
In the sales rankings for Audi’s midsize models, the A4 Sedan is currently in second place – it has accounted for around three million of the ten million vehicles built over the space of 39 years and spanning eight car lines. Out in front is the Audi 80 Sedan, of which over 4.3 million were produced. In third place is the Audi A4 Avant, with a total of more than 1.8 million built.
The total number of all Audi A4 models built to date – including the convertibles and the allroad quattro – is over five million vehicles; the five millionth Audi A4 was completed in March. In these rankings the A4 holds the lead over the Audi 80, of which 4.5 million Sedans and Avants combined were built. The total number of coupes, Ur-quattros and convertibles derived from the Audi 80, along with the Audi 90, comes to about 500,000 units.
Audi started building its midsize S models in 1990. They used abundant power, refined style and quattro permanent all-wheel drive to further cultivate the dynamic image that the brand had earned in racing. Since 1994 the RS models, with their high-performance engines and quattro permanent all-wheel drive, have formed the dynamic spearhead of the Audi model range; quattro GmbH assumed responsibility for them in 2000.
The S models
The 1997 S4, which was available in both Sedan and Avant versions, was powered by a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 that developed 195 kW (265 hp). For the next generation, which appeared at the start of 2003, Audi switched to a naturally aspirated engine: The 4.2-liter V8 developing 253 kW (344 hp) was adopted for the S4 Sedan and S4 Avant, and the first S4 Cabriolet also appeared. The next generation of S models based on the B7 appeared in 2004, joined by a Cabriolet in 2006. All three versions retained the V8.
When the current S4 made its debut in 2008, it featured a major Audi innovation – the sport differential that distributes the power variably to the rear wheels. Its 3.0 TFSI, a V6 with compressor supercharging, develops 245 kW (333 hp).
The RS models
The RS 4 Avant carried on with this concept in 2001. It was powered by a 2.7-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers, generating 279 kW (380 hp). By contrast its successor, the 2005 RS 4, switched to a high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 engine. The FSI direct injection unit developed 309 kW (420 hp), which it delivered to the wheels via a newly developed center differential biased toward the rear axle. The new RS 4 was the first to be offered in three body styles: Sedan, Avant and Cabriolet.
There is a long tradition of the emotion-packed coupe and convertible model versions in Audi’s midsize segment. Two generations of coupes were produced between 1980 and 1995, and from 1991 on Audi built three different generations of a convertible exuding timeless elegance.
The Coupé based on the B2
Over its model life, five different basic engines were available. The range extended from the 1.8-liter, 55 kW (75 hp) version right up to the 2.2-liter five-cylinder version developing 100 kW (136 hp). From 1985, the car line saw the advent of closed-loop three-way catalytic converters. From 1984 on Audi also offered the most powerful engine version with quattro drive; that year additionally saw the model updated. The first Coupé car line remained part of the range until 1987, with almost 170,000 built.
The Coupé based on the B3
From 1990, the S2 was the top model in the Coupé car line. This was the first midsize Audi to sport the plaque-type radiator grille adopted from the Audi V8. The Coupé car line underwent a facelift in 1991. V6 engines with displacements of 2.8 and 2.6 liters were new additions to the range, and the 125 kW five cylinder version was withdrawn. Production of the B3 Coupé ceased at the end of 1995 with more than 70,000 units built.
The Cabriolet based on the B3
The Cabriolet was launched as a 2.3 E developing 98 kW (133 hp), but the five cylinder version remained in the range for just two years. From 1992 on Audi gradually extended the engine range, as far up as the 2.8-liter V6, and with a 1.9 TDI providing the unique option of a diesel-engined convertible. All engines were paired with front-wheel drive. 1997 brought a facelift, and production was outsourced to the specialist Karmann. It ceased three years later, with a total of more than 70,000 of this model built.
The Audi A4 Cabriolet based on the B6
The Cabriolet grew to 4.57 meters (14.99 ft) in length and its wheelbase increased to 2.65 meters (8.69 ft), translating into a much more spacious interior. With the top closed, the drag coefficient was a mere 0.30. As on the predecessor model, the calm styling incorporated a visual highlight – the frame around the windshield was made from polished aluminum. The soft top with glass rear window had electro-hydraulic drive and there were electrically extended roll-over bars behind the seats.
In its first year on the market, the engine range stretched from the 1.8 T with an output of 120 kW (163 hp) to the three-liter V6 that developed 162 kW (220 hp). The 2.5-liter TDI was an Audi specialty. All engines were also available with multitronic, the world’s first continuously variable transmission in an open-top car. For the 1.8 T and 3.0, quattro drive was available from 2003 and the six-speed tiptronic made its first appearance in the Cabriolet. In late 2003 the open-top S4 was introduced at the vanguard of the car line. Production ceased in fall 2005 with over 100,000 units built.
The Audi A4 Cabriolet based on the B7
The refined suspension served to enhance the appeal of the new Audi A4 Cabriolet, along with a largely new range of engines – the 1.8 T, the 2.0 TFSI, the 3.2 FSI, the 2.0 TDI, the 2.7 TDI and the 3.0 TDI. All engine versions were available with front-wheel drive, and the two three-liter V6 units also with quattro drive. The transmissions comprised the manual versions, multitronic and tiptronic. 60,000 of this model were built by the time production ceased in 2009.
The Audi midsize car has also shown its class in the world of motor racing. It formed the basis of the legendary rally cars – the Audi quattro and Sport quattro – and outstanding racing circuit cars such as the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO, Audi 80 quattro, Audi 80 competition, Audi A4 quattro and Audi A4 DTM.
The Audi 80 in the world of motor racing
In 1980, Audi won the manufacturers’ championship of the European Touring Car Masters with an 80 GLE. Willi Bergmeister from Langenfeld and Hans Joachim Nowak, foreman in the Audi testing department, were at the wheel. The 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine directed 143 kW (194 hp) to the front wheels, thus enabling the 780 kilogram (1,719.61 lb) sedan to reach speeds of up to 230 km/h (142.92 mph).
Alongside the rally quattro that dominated Group 4 and Group B in the early 1980s, Audi also entered an Audi 80 quattro in the World Rally Championships; it took part in Group A for slightly modified production cars. At its premiere in Sweden the sedan, driven by Stig Blomqvist, achieved second place overall – a clear demonstration of the potential of the quattro concept.
By 1987, the Audi 80 quattro and the Audi Coupé quattro, driven by independent drivers, had won national rally titles in Austria, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Norway. On the rally circuits in the USA and Canada, the Audi Coupé S2 won numerous titles in the 1990s.
Harald Demuth: “We worked around the clock”
“I was lucky enough to get a contract with Audi just after the development of the Audi 80 rally car got underway. In those days, the sport department consisted of two lifting platforms in Technical Development. We had four mechanics and a sports manager, Jürgen Stockmar, who was also head of chassis development. The good thing about this set up was that Technical Development wanted to do everything they could to forge ahead with this project. All options were open to us, problems were solved professionally. We worked around the clock in those days – we ran tests, we competed and then we set up the cars again.
In 1979 and 1980 we took part in the World Rally Championships with the Audi 80 in order to develop the team further and to get to know the sport. Most people thought, “Oh well, a 1.6-liter engine, 160 hp, four-speed transmission, front-wheel drive – that won’t be much of a problem.” However, the strengths of the car were the somewhat longer wheelbase, the low weight and the front-wheel drive that was good for traction. The Audi 80 drove much better than most people had expected. At the tough rally in Portugal in March 1979, we had our doubts that we would even reach the finishing line. But we managed it and came sixth overall. It was the first time we won World Championship points for Audi.
At the same time, we began the first tests with an Audi 80 that already boasted the technology of the quattro, i.e. the engine with approximately 300 hp and all-wheel drive. In those days it was still top secret and if anyone asked us if we were doing anything with a quattro vehicle we always had to say, “No, I’ve got no idea”! But we actually knew that we would go a long way with this car and enjoy a great deal of success.”
The Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO
In actual fact, the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO, which weighed a good 1,200 kilograms (2645.55 lbs), only had the outer skin of the roof in common with the production sedan – one of the few stipulations in the regulations.
It was the first Audi touring car with a carbon-fiber floor and a space frame covered with a plastic skin. The front wheel wells were home to the widest driven front wheels in the history of racing, measuring 36 centimeters (14.17 in).
The 2.2-liter, five-cylinder engine from Audi that had already achieved great things in the World Rally Championships reached its full potential in the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO. A four-valve cylinder head and a maximum boost pressure of 2.65 bar facilitated an output of 530 kW (approximately 720 hp); a recirculating air system kept the turbocharger at a high speed. The Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO achieved a top speed of roughly 310 km/h (193 mph) and fully exploited its handling and traction advantages in the corners.
Audi took second place in the manufacturers’ championship in its very first year. The Ingolstadt car company elected not to enter the endurance classics at Daytona and Sebring at the start of the year, but Hans-Joachim Stuck was the dominant driver in the fourth race at Summit Point. He posted six individual wins, and partnered with Walter Röhrl for another. Stuck finished ahead of his team-mate Hurley Haywood in third place in the drivers’ standings.
The Audi A4 quattro in the Super Touring Car Championships
In 1994, Emanuele Pirro won the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships for Audi in the Italian Touring Car Championships. The same year saw the start of the Super Touring Car Cup (STC) in Germany, with Biela and Pirro finishing second and third. Pirro defended his title in Italy in 1995 with the new Audi A4 quattro, while Biela won the Touring Car World Cup that took place in Le Castellet as the finale to the season. The driver from Neuss came third in the German series.
The STC functionaries oriented themselves on the international standards for two-liter touring cars. The naturally aspirated engines were limited to 8,500 rpm, and thus an engine output of roughly 220 kW (300 hp). A straight-cut, sequential, six-speed gearbox served as the transmission for the racing A4 that weighed approximately 1,040 kilograms (2,292.81 lbs). The quattro permanent all-wheel drive played a significant part in the finely balanced handling.
The aerodynamics were also extremely important. Audi spent roughly 140 hours with a special test car in the wind tunnel to fine-tune the outer skin of the Audi A4 quattro. Another of the body’s strengths was its high rigidity. The seating position was state-of-the-art, with the driver’s seat shifted downward, toward the center and to the rear in the interest of weight distribution.
The 1996 season proved to be a historic year for Audi. The Audi A4 quattro entered seven national Super Touring Car championships on three continents – in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and Australia. It won every single one of them. In the intensely competitive German STC Series, with a field of eight brands, Emanuele Pirro emerged on top, and Frank Biela dominated the race in rainy England. Two years later, the European ruling bodies banned all-wheel drive almost completely from touring car races.
The Audi A4 DTM
The official factory team comeback was celebrated by Audi in 2004 with the Audi A4. Mattias Ekström claimed the title in his very first year and repeated this success in 2007. In 2008 and 2009, Timo Scheider took over as champion – the perfect hat-trick. In the 2011 season that just finished, Martin Tomczyk took the top spot in the overall standings.
The DTM regulations set relatively tight boundaries for manufacturers; further development has been frozen since 2009. The tires, the sequential six-speed transmission, the propeller shaft that transfers the power to the rear axle and the engine electronics are standardized. Two air volume delivery limiters restrict the output of the naturally aspirated Audi four-liter V8 to approximately 340 kW (around 460 hp) and a torque of 500 Nm.
Double wishbones guide the wheels and the spring and shock absorber units work in accordance with the pushrod system. The internally ventilated discs behind the 18-inch wheels are made from carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). A steel space frame and a CFRP safety cell are covered by the 4.80 meter (15.75 ft) long outer skin. The unladen weight of the Audi A4 DTM is significantly less than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb). Trim weights and the driver raise this to the specified minimum weight of 1,050 (2314.85 lb) or 1,025 kilograms (2259.75 lb), depending on model year.
The room for maneuver granted by the regulations mainly relate to the weight distribution, the aerodynamics and the chassis setup. The regulations that have been in force for 11 years are due to expire next year; the new racing car, called R17 internally, is already in the starting blocks. Audi Sport and the entire company are looking forward to the new season.
Audi has more than 20 years of experience in the field of hybrid technology. The first generation of the Audi duo had its debut as early as 1989 – as a concept car based on an Audi 100 Avant. A 100 kW (136 hp) five-cylinder gasoline engine drove the front wheels, and a part-time electric motor, that could be activated when the vehicle was stationary, developed 9 kW (12 hp) and drove the rear wheels. Nickel-cadmium batteries served as energy stores.
Another duo variant, this time based on an Audi 100 Avant quattro, followed a good two years later. The two-liter, four-cylinder engine with 85 kW (115 hp) powered both axles, the electric motor generated 21 kW (29 hp) for the rear wheels when required. In electric mode, during which the front axle was disconnected, the Audi duo achieved a top speed of 65 km/h (40.39 mph) and the sodium-sulfur battery provided enough power for a journey of 80 kilometers (49.71 miles).
In 1997 Audi advanced to become the first European carmaker to build a limited edition of a hybrid vehicle with around 100 units – the Audi duo based on the A4 Avant B5. The drive was provided by a 1.9-liter TDI developing 66 kW (90 hp) and a water-cooled electric motor developing 21 kW (29 hp), powered by a lead gelatin battery in the rear. Both units drove the front wheels.
As in the two previous studies, the low-volume duo followed the trend-setting plug-in concept – its battery could be charged from a socket. Its electric motor could also recover energy during deceleration. In the electric mode, which facilitated a range of approximately 50 kilometers (31.07 miles), the duo attained 80 km/h (49.71 mph), and a maximum of 170 km/h (105.63 mph) with TDI power. The concept was far ahead of its time – too far ahead for the market.
The history of the production
A further 109,421 B1 models came off the assembly lines in Emden, all for the export market; 11,784 sets of parts were also produced for assembly in South Africa. More than 400,000 units of the first Audi 80 went abroad. In the USA, the most important export market, the sedan was sold under the name Fox and boasted 157,869 buyers. The successor model was also launched in the USA, as the Audi 4000. The export rate of the B2 was almost 50 percent.
The early 1980s saw significant changes in production. The new paint shop, opened in 1982, ensured major improvements in the field of corrosion protection. With the third generation of the Audi 80, the factory converted to a new, slimline production system. Storage capacities were minimized and suppliers based in close vicinity to the plant delivered their parts to the production line “just in time.” 450 robots assembled the fully galvanized body of the B3 entirely automatically; final assembly was carried out in small, flexibly organized groups.
The high level of demand for the B3 caused Audi to move production of the large 100/200 type to the Neckarsulm plant to free up more capacity at the main factory. Only the Ur-quattro was not involved with this modern production system – its 11,452 units were built mainly by hand in the made-to-order production hall N2.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the B4 also benefited from a large investment – a new generation of robots was introduced to the body shop and the press shop was completely redesigned. The total amount invested in production reached DM 600 million. The engine plant in Győr, Hungary opened in 1994; in 2003 Audi began production of the long-wheelbase A4 in the Chinese factory in Changchun.
Hubert Kienast: “Quality, tidiness and cleanliness”
“I started in the planning department at Audi in 1969, in the B series sector. It was up to my colleagues and I to use the plans from Technical Development to check whether the car could be produced as planned. If not we had to make other suggestions. Technical Development always tried to make the cars better and we had to implement all those developments on the production line.
We initially used punch cards for vehicle scheduling. The first element was the bodyshell, then the paint and finally lots of small components, from the wiring to the interior details. Later, computer technology was introduced which was used to track the car closely from the beginning of the production line to the end. We fixed large labels to the engine lid that the staff could read from a distance.
Over the years we constantly tried to automate the work more and make it easier. For example with the B4, we removed the doors again after painting had been finished and fitted their equipment onto them in a dedicated preassembly area. This made working in the interior much easier. The specifications were that the car had to be built in 25 hours. And we managed to achieve this, although we would have needed 30 to 35 hours before.
In the 1960s we initially concentrated on getting through production without any problems but then we soon got to work on improving quality. Quality, tidiness, cleanliness – these factors belong together. And it also means that equipment is kept in perfect order and the floor is clean.
Audi uses the latest production methods at both sites. This is the case in the Toolmaking Division as well, where the pressing tools are created. Their precision forms the basis for the legendary Audi quality in the finished product – for the tight radii in the sheet metal, the sharp lines, the perfect surfaces and the high dimensional accuracy.
The latest developments from Toolmaking include extremely lightweight body-construction plant that consist largely of carbon fiber compounds instead of steel. Their lighter weight drastically reduces the consumption of electricity. The measuring technology with its many sensors represents another revolutionary solution. The intelligent tools of the future that will be able to regulate themselves are already in the prototype stage.
Only 38 percent of the weight of the Audi A4 Sedan is made up of conventional deep-drawn steel. High-strength grades account for 32 percent and highest-strength steels for 18 percent. The remaining 12 percent is made up of ultra-high-strength hot-shaped steels that combine low weight with maximum durability. The majority of the parts – such as most B-pillars, for instance – are fabricated in-house.
Two natural gas-fired furnaces, each measuring 23 meters (75.46 ft) long, are installed at Press Shop South in Ingolstadt. A robot gripper places the steel plate on an article carrier at the entrance to the furnaces. Ceramic rollers carry the plate through the furnace in under four minutes, during which time the plate is heated to over 920 degrees Celsius (1,688 Fahrenheit). At the furnace exit, a gripper arm rapidly places the red-hot plate into a hydraulic press that works with a closing force of more than 600 metric tons.
Cooling tubes through which cold water flows are cast into the die of the press, and the panel is cooled to approximately 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). The martensitic structure that forms during this process features an extremely high tensile strength of up to 1,500 megapascals. It is so strong that it can only be machined using a laser or a diamond-edged tool.
The B-pillars are partially hardened and tempered to selectively influence the deformation characteristics. In a side-impact collision, the pillars deform more at the bottom than at the top in order to dissipate as much energy as possible. Audi developed this principle and the production method in-house and was the first to use them.
The three Audi Press Shops – two in Ingolstadt and one in Neckarsulm, which underwent an extensive upgrade from 2007 to 2009 – are at the forefront of innovation. Both sites feature state-of-the-art large-capacity suction transfer presses. These powerful presses can shape up to 35,000 parts each day with up to 8,000 tons of closing force. The belt cutting machines, which cut the components from the steel coils prior to this, are also identical.
Audi also uses highly advanced technologies to join the panels in the Body Shop. Compared to the previous model, the number of weld points on the Audi A4 B8 decreased from roughly 6,500 to around 5,500, and the length of the bonded seams increased from 26 to 125 meters (85.30 – 410 ft). The adhesive enhances the strength of the connection and thus the entire structure. The seams are offset (“quilted”) in many areas, which saves 30 percent of adhesive per car.
The seam around the water outlet at the trunk and the so-called invisible seam between the side panel and the roof – a particularly problematic area of any car – are made using the innovative plasmatron brazing process. The tolerance allowed in this area is less than 0.1 millimeter; it is ensured by a highly flexible framer – a large clamping and positioning unit. The rain gutter covers found on the roofs of many of the competition’s cars are no longer needed.
Remote laser beam welding is used at the sills and the doors in the Audi A4 family. This is a highly efficient process in which mirrors deflect the laser beam to focus it on the work area. The laser head can move continuously and quickly over the component at a relatively large distance.
In Ingolstadt production of the Audi A4 – which is 98 percent mechanized – takes place in Hall A1, which is located in the heart of the plant. About 1,100 robots with electromotive welding tongs, nearly 800 handling and geometric grips, almost 200 stud-welding applications, 168 adhesive guns, 28 stations for MIG/MAG welding and 10 laser welding systems and 12 plasmatron welding systems are in use here. Numerous in-line measuring systems, primarily equipped with infrared sensors, check against a total of 1,800 measuring points. Added to this is a specialized measuring system that uses ultrasound to check all spot-welded joints.
Audi also uses numerous methods to organize work more efficiently, consistently and ergonomically in Audi A4 assembly, where much of the work is carried out by hand. For cockpit preassembly, for example, employees use an ergonomic assembly seat that hangs from a bar under the ceiling. The employee who assembles the pedals glides by a shelf, takes out the required parts and puts them together while seated.
The shortening of distances, introduction of standards and optimization of grips and grip widths are a central issue in assembly, as is the avoidance of defects. Some parts trolleys communicate by radio signal with the cars; they use LEDs to indicate to employees which components need to be removed and installed. Nothing is so good that it cannot be improved – this principle applies to every division of Audi.