Audi is recognized as one of the world's leading manufacturers of luxuriously appointed, well-made automobiles, with potential purchasers buying into their reputation of delivering well-made and reliable products. On top of this, Audi has become well known as a company that can design and build a truly rewarding performance car, with the 2022 S3 being a prime example as it blends power, style, and comfort.

For years, Audi went toe-to-toe with fellow German rivals BMW and Mercedes in a battle for market dominance across a variety of vehicle segments, but the one thing they tended to offer over their competitors was the availability of four-wheel drive in nearly all versions of its road models. If you wanted a four-wheel-drive hatchback, wagon, or sedan from a German manufacturer, whether it be gasoline or diesel-powered, then an Audi fitted with the Quattro system used to be your only option.

To most drivers these days, the Quattro badge is a simple indication that the Audi it is affixed to has four-wheel-drive, from a humble A3 to the gorgeous R8 supercar, the four-wheel-drive system has defined itself as grip redefined, having become as famous as the brand that birthed it. That though wasn't always the case, as the Quattro was once a stand-alone model and a car that not only rewrote the performance car rule books but changed the course of rallying forever, and these are 10 reasons why every gearhead should drive an Audi Ur-Quattro.

10 A Defining Moment In Motoring History

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Launched towards the end of 1980, the ur Quattro was the first of its kind, a motoring revelation that combined a sophisticated all-wheel system along with a turbocharged front-engine layout that was unlike anything that had come before it.

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Constructed on a dedicated line, the ur Quattro was partially hand-built and received many upgrades during its seven-year lifespan, as Audi continued to modify and improve the underpinnings, trim and running gear.

9 The Start Of A Legacy

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Discounted by most other car manufacturers as an expensive exercise in engineering, the Audi Quattro proved that there was an avid buyer base for its groundbreaking cars prompting manufacturers to sit up and reassess their model lines.

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The original Quattro has also now defined Audi as a brand, birthing an instantly recognizable logo and name that has become synonymous with not only its four-wheel-drive system but with highly capable performance cars designed for enthusiastic bouts of driving.

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8 Undeniable 80s Styling

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A quick glance at an ur Quattro and there is no mistaking it for a car from the decade that defined excess, the iconic Audi just screams the 80s with the brushed velour sports seats, harsh straight-lined design, and boxy sides.

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It's these throwback cues that make the ur Quattro so special though, being brutishly handsome with luxurious features, such as the once-space-age LCD dashboard dials, heated seats, synthesized voice reminder system, and ventilated rear disc brakes.

7 Turbo Fed Performance

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Taking the already potent 2.2-liter inline five-cylinder engine fitted to the 200 5T the engineers at Audi added a Borg Warner K26 Turbocharger to elevate power from 170hp to a more appealing 200hp, with 210lb-ft of torque being on tap.

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Channeling all of that power through its four wheels, the ur Quattro would launch off the line with ease and rocket to 60mph in an incredible 6.7 seconds before hurtling on to a top speed of 137mph, outrunning numerous exotic performance cars in the process.

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6 Groundbreaking Levels Of Grip

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Blisteringly fast in a straight line for its time, the ur Quattro would simply defy the laws of physics when it came to cornering, aided by its unique drive all-wheel-drive system it literally could not be matched on the open road when conditions became poor.

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On a perfect, dry highway the Quattro system provided sure-footed reassurance, in the rain and snow it added a level of safety and confidence that just couldn't be offered by any other performance coupe at the time.

5 Still Fast Today

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With figures that reflect that of a modestly powered modern hot hatch, an ur Quattro can still hold its head above water. Not burdened by any unnecessary weight, once the turbo comes on song it will raise more than a few eyebrows.

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The compliant chassis combined with the award-winning Quattro system allows the aging star to still throw up a few surprises, hooking into corners before launching the coupe out with poise, finding grip where others would fail.

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4 Once Neglected, Now Prized

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In the mid-nineties, it would be commonplace to see an original Quattro being sold for peanuts as the cost of running them as daily drivers simply became too high, with potential expensive repair costs scaring off new owners.

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Notoriously costly to maintain and repair, many original Quattro coupes were simply stored or abandoned in garages by their owners due to the exorbitant prospect of getting the mechanicals or electricals running smoothly again.

3 A Rally Legend That Rewrote The Rules

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Bursting onto the rally scene in 1980 as a development car, the ur Quattro caused quite a stir and went on to dominate its category for 8 solid years, blessed with a 350hp motorsport engine and AWD it was unbeatable on loose or slippery surfaces.

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In 1981 French-born Michele Mouton, at the helm of an ur Quattro, became the first female driver to ever win a rally championship. A crowning achievement that has never been beaten to this day, and proof that the sport needs further diversity.

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2 They Can Take Big Power

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Described as reliable but fragile, the turbocharged in-line 5-cylinder engine that gave the ur Quattro its distinct character and offbeat voice would form the base for a number of highly tuned race focused versions boasting massive power outputs.

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Outside of a manufacturer-dedicated tuning program, the ur Quattro became a favorite amongst tuners and modifiers. Over the years, the release of upgraded engine components by third parties would see larger power outputs become more reliable with fewer failures.

1 It Was A Cut Price Hero

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Kicking off the craze for four-wheel-drive performance cars, the ur Quattro was a pioneer, a stormingly fast coupe that was so misunderstood Audi was forced to advertise it as "a luxurious high-performance road car and not an off-road vehicle."

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Undercutting those around it, Audi's ur Quattro beat the competition in the form of BMW's 6 series coupe, and the Opel Monza whilst undercutting and outrunning both the Porsche 911 SC and exotically-engined Jaguar XJ-S V12.

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