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Road test: 1985 Audi Quattro Sport - January 2002
story by Shane O' Donoghue, pictures by Damian Quinn

The Audi arrived in a covered trailer - protection against the elements and certain elements of society perhaps as this immaculate Quattro Sport is one of only 164 sold for public road use. Note the order of the words "Quattro" and "Sport". It was not named "Sport Quattro" as so many people refer to it. Semantics, maybe. For those that care, we would like to set the record straight.

As you may well guess, there are no right hand drive versions of this version of the Quattro family. Left hand drive is not a major disadvantage in the UK, less so in the major cities. On the open road, overtaking is compromised, but with 300bhp and 243lb.ft of torque, it is not a problem. Anyway, the tried and trusted passenger notification approach works well (continue with overtaking manoeuvre if passenger's face does not go white).

The 1983 Quattro Sport was extremely advanced in its day. There is ABS (an option at the time), a four-valve per cylinder, all-alloy, 5 cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled engine, and of course, the fabulous four-wheel drive chassis, complete with locking differentials. Many of these technologies were never before seen on a road car. We do accept of course that the road car was produced only to homologate the radical competition car, replacing the successful, but cumbersome "Ur Quattro".

Now, from the specifications, you may well expect big turbo lag and a short useful power band. You would be wrong. There is turbo lag of course, but not much! From as low as 2500 rpm there is serious punch, with the knockout arriving at 4000 rpm. From there to the red line is a conversation-killing surge backwards of scenery and other traffic. Changing quickly up through the five-speed box is possible but requires concentration as the box is stubborn at times - more so when cold. Hit the rev-limiter in a gear and mess up the change and you are treated to flames coming out of the exhaust... This is not your average road car. It is possible to lose the grip in a few of the tyres in full-bore acceleration runs. In the dry.

On smooth tarmac, the Quattro Sport (on sticky Dunlops) clings on for dear life, eventually edging towards understeer. Timing this moment with maximum boost is fun though! Even on less-than-smooth British roads the Audi copes surprisingly well. It feels very composed and is a capable motorway car (ignoring the fuel economy). The entire car is beautifully made, with a real sense of solidity inside and out. This is no mean feat considering that most body panels are glassfibre/kevlar.

Though the interior now feels very dated it still works and has not fallen apart. The seats in particular are beautifully crafted Recaro items, although my personal opinion is that they are designed for the medium-to-large sized driver and therefore are a little too big for yours truly. Big is not a word you would associate with the rear compartment! Cutting 320mm from the regular Quattro body was never going to favour rear passengers. Why bother with the seats at all? Your pet poodle may well complain about space, never mind the in-laws.

In this way, the Quattro theme has moved into the present day. It does not now stand for the ultimate competition concept, but a distinctive road car, which has a respectable heritage. The Quattro Sport is evidence of this. Long live the Quattro - this particular car will certainly live long in my mind.

The 1985 Audi Quattro Sport. Photograph by Damian Quinn. Click here for a larger image. The 1985 Audi Quattro Sport. Photograph by Damian Quinn. Click here for a larger image. The 1985 Audi Quattro Sport. Photograph by Damian Quinn. Click here for a larger image. The 1985 Audi Quattro Sport. Photograph by Damian Quinn. Click here for a larger image.

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