The Audi V8 Quattro has a history dating back to 1988, when it was launched as a full-size luxury sedan and was the German automaker’s flagship car until 1993. It was succeeded by the A8, another full-size luxury sedan that has been in production for three generations. The Quattro refers to the 4-wheel drive version of the V8, which was the only model to receive the Generation II version of the 4-wheel drive system. As the name suggests, the Audi V8 Quattro is powered by a 32-valve V8 engine. Another unique feature of the luxury sedan was a galvanised steel body.
Designed as Audi’s flagship car, the V8 Quattro has top of the line luxury features standard, and it is responsible for having improved the public image of the company as a luxury car manufacturer. During its run from 1988 through 1993, the V8 Quattro proved to be a strong competitor in the luxury sedan segment, especially among other German carmakers like Mercedes-Benz. Today, the Audi V8 Quattro is considered to be the foundation for the German automobile manufacturer’s presence in the global automotive market.
The Audi V8 Quattro is powered by a 3.6-litre, aluminium, dual-overhead-camshaft V8 engine under the bonnet with a rated power of 179kW. The engine, with four valves per cylinder, is mated to an automatic transmission combined with the Quattro’s permanently engaged all-wheel drive system. Until 1991, the engine was connected to a standard 4-speed ZF 4HP24A automatic transmission. This changed in 1991, when a 5-speed manual transmission was made available for no extra cost.
The all-aluminium alloy engines would later become the basis for the Volkswagen Group V8 engines developed by Audi. With the safety and convenience kit available at the time, the Audi V8 Quattro was an impressive automobile to drive. However, the car had a lot of German influence in it, which meant a firmer ride than what most would expect from a flagship luxury sedan. Nevertheless, the firmer-than-usual suspension and the wide tyres gave it great stability even when pushed to the limit.
This was great on smooth and open roads, but the ride could get a little harsh on patched and rough roads. Tyre noise was also considerable, but in exchange for these minor inconveniences the car delivered quite a performance. Steering is precise and highly responsive, and the V8 engine had decent acceleration too. The ‘economy’ mode reduces some of the briskness of the engine’s acceleration, but the response improves with the ‘sport’ mode. Regardless of the mode chosen, the car’s fuel mileage is nothing to boast about.
One of the best parts of the Audi V8 Quattro is its incredible traction. The Quattro all-wheel drive system is a thing of beauty, as it keeps the luxury sedan firmly planted on the ground in most conditions. Under normal conditions, the engine power is split equally between all four tyres. However, when wheel slippage is detected, more power is directed to the front or rear axle, whichever had more traction. This improves the traction of the car when needed. Under extreme conditions, the majority of engine power goes to the tyres that have the most traction. Apart from the economy and sport mode, the V8 models also have a manual operation mode.
There are no complaints about space inside the car. The spacious interior of the Audi V8 Quattro can comfortably seat four adults. Luggage space is a little smaller than that of competitors, but the boot lid has a low lift height, making it easier to get stuff in and out.
The Audi V8 Quattro came with a fair amount of standard and optional kit. Most models included a BOSE eight-speaker stereo system, leather upholstery, walnut wood trim, and heated seats at the front and rear.
The standard safety features include an anti-theft alarm system, frontal air bag, three-point seatbelt for the front and rear seats, child safety door locks, and a Procon-ten safety system. Other standard features include an automatic two-zone climate control system, power accessories, trip information computer, hands-free cellular telephone, halogen headlights, front and rear fog lights, and illuminated trunk engine compartment, ashtray, and vanity mirrors.
The Audi V8 Quattro competed with the Infiniti Q45, Cadillac Seville, Lexus LS400, and the Mercedes 190. Most of these cars offered greater refinement and a softer and more comfortable ride, but lacked the poke and on-road stability that the V8 Quattro had. For example, the Infiniti had only 207kW of power and 400Nm of torque, and the Seville got only 6Nm more than that. For both power and luxury, this Quattro wins easily.