Those of an older audience cast your mind back to 1976. When Audi first decided that your “in line” or “straight” engines needed an extra cylinder. The 100 was the first Audi to run this petrol powered 5 cylinder engine with it being 2.1 litres and developing 136hp at the time. The most iconic of Audi’s 5 cylinders arguably has to be from 1980 when the UR-Quattro debuted it. Audi gave the power-plant a turbocharger, intercooler and the drive train was permanent four-wheel drive to compensate. By the time 1983 came about Audi had improved their recipe even further. The shortened sport Quattro came out now featuring four valves per cylinder and made 306hp from the still 2.1 litre lump.
It’s now 1984 and we’re in the midst of group B rally. Audi’s 5 cylinder is now producing 450hp from a frankly humongous turbo which hurled these cars forward in physics defying fashion. Fast forward another 3 years and Walter Röhrl won at Pikes peak with 598hp in the wide-bodied Sport Quattro (S1). 1 year later even more lunacy unfolded with the renowned IMSA GTO touring car spitting flames like a hormonal dragon and chucking out over 720hp from barely a 2 litre power plant! How mad was the 1980s. I’m actually gutted I wasn’t around for any of them. German engineers from the 80’s are the kind of guys you really want to go for a beer with, certainly those from the motorsport division.
Sadly 5 cylinder Audi’s and their legendary soundtrack kinda disappeared for a little while. With motorsport homologations and other outright lunacies ceasing to exist. But in 2009 they returned with their 2.5 litre 5 cylinder power plant in the TTRS. The TTRS and latter the RS3 (8P) in 2011 made 340hp which was good for a 0-60 sprint of 4.6 seconds which is respectable for a bloody hatchback nearly a decade ago. For perspective my focus RS from the same model year was barely breaking the 6 second mark.
5 cylinders make an absolutely rapturous noise. It’s dirty and naughty, you indulge yourself with it but you feel like you shouldn’t. I had a Mk2 Focus RS and with a decat it snarled like a pissed off lion. With many satisfying crackles on the over-run. Audi managed not only squeeze much more power and torque than ford did with their Volvo stolen lumps, but also put it to the floor with Haldex 4 wheel drive (which is not Quattro). Early 8P cars 2011 onwards will set you back anywhere from £15,000 onwards however they’re all automatic I’m sorry to say, but it is a seven speed dual clutch with a launch control function. So it is at least clinical and efficient. Ive heard of a few cars munching gearboxes but if you repeatedly launch most cars they’ll go bang at some point. I think the 8P variant is astonishingly good value.
Now for probably the most famous of the bunch the 8V. These have been a tremendous success for Audi in the last few years with them littering our streets and providing some of the best exhaust notes around. The pre-facelift cars produced 362bhp and will propel you from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. If you can find one standard that is. The RS3 has started an almost cult like fan base with so many of the younger generation getting into them. Exploiting the many great PCP and finance details available. Trust me I’ve looked. If that’s not enough for you Audi face-lifted the 8V in 2017 upping power to 395bhp with the option of a saloon now available. 0-60 is now taken care of in under 4 seconds. BUT and it’s a big BUT this is a £50,000 car after some options which yes I know it’s brand new and they’re very very good, but weren’t we all taking the piss out of Mercedes for the A45 Price Tag when new? I’m a big fan of all the RS3 models and with the 8P getting more and more affordable I must admit I’m tempted for a daily. Which model variant is your favourite?