Audi's turbo 5-cylinder engine is as much a legend as the JZ or RB

Audi's turbo 5-cylinder engine is as much a legend as the JZ or RB

While the Internet debates whether MOOG's new RS3 daily driver is a nugget or not (you can check out THE LATEST EPISODE HERE), plenty of people are missing a great opportunity to learn about the 100% undistilled awesomesauce that is the Audi in-line five-cylinder engine. 

These sonorous, warbling beasts have been around for over four decades now, and have gone through numerous upgrades in that time, just in factory tune. 

First gaining fame in the 1980 UR Quattro as a 2.2-litre single-overhead-cam unit, they have retained the in-line five and turbocharged layouts through the years, and now thanks to the wizardry of modern ECUs and turbos, ethanol-rich fuels, big compression ratios, direct-injection and stupendously efficient cylinder heads, they have essentially doubled their factory-rated output. 

Much like in other tuning scenes around the world, cluey punters soon realised these motors could be squeezed harder than what Audi did and power outputs in the aftermarket soared. This was helped with learning what the factory rally Quattros did to make the insane 500hp-600hp outputs they had ended up with by the late 1980s. 

Audi continued to release the five-cylinder in other cars after the UR Quattro ended production in 1991. Cars like the Coupe-Quattro and RS2 Avant are already considered classics, before the tuning scene got their hands on them and started building four-digit power figures from the canted-over in-line five strung way out ahead of the front axle line. 

As a long-term fan of European cars, I will never forget the time I saw a video called "Audi 80 General Lee Drift" on a new website called YouTube. CLICK THIS LINK to watch a fairly average all-wheel-drive sedan putting down an insane (for the time) 863hp at the wheels making clouds like it is nobody's business... once he gets the old Holset turbo spooling! 

Back when the Audi General Lee video hit the Internet 863hp Skyline GT-Rs and Supras were still a huge deal, however Audi fans knew their factory race cars in IMSA and Trans-Am were capable of making this power having watched both American racing series ban the four-ringed four-wheel-drive terrors because they made everything else obsolete overnight - does this remind you of a certain Nissan that hit Group A racing in the late 1980s with turbos and all-paw grip? 

Today we're seeing bolt-on 2.5-litre RS3s run 10-second quarter-mile times, and built-up big-turbo versions delivering V8-smashing power outputs. And one of the best aspects? These off-beat engines sound like nothing else! 

So, while the Audi five-cylinder engine may not be as familiar as the JZ or RB, it is a legend worthy of admiration in its own right. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published