Audi’s RS3 has rallying DNA the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo couldn’t hope to match

If you have watched the LATEST VIDEO ON MOOG'S NEW CAR (click HERE) then you'll see plenty of frothing over a turbo five-cylinder all-wheel-drive Audi. But what makes them so special? 

While Audi has built mega-fast cars using four, six, eight and even 10 cylinders they are most famous for their turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engines, which date back over 40 years to the 1980 UR Quattro. From its humble beginnings as a 197hp production motor, it quickly grew into a fearsome race engine making over 600hp that dominated the WRC, IMSA and Trans-Am series, eventually being banned from them.

The UR Quattro introduced all-wheel-drive grip and modern turbocharged power to the World Rally Championship. This technology has defined the whole sport of rallying for over 40 years now, since the first production car-based Quattros burst onto the Janner Rally in Austria, way back in 1980.

While the 1966 Jensen FF is credited with being the first all-wheel-drive road vehicle and AMC's 1979 Eagle being the first AWD production car, it was the Audi Quattro was certainly the first rally car to employ its devastatingly efficient power-transfer on the world stage - among other firsts. 

Based on the Audi 80 sedan, the UR Quattro debuted with a longitudinally-mounted (North-South) 2.1-litre in-line five-cylinder single overhead cam engine, with fuel-injection and an intercooled turbocharger. It originally produced 147kW (197hp) but was upgraded to a 2.22-litre DOHC layout (among other refinements) in 1989 to make 162kW.

Weighing in at a touch under 1300kg and with advanced (for the time) independent suspension all 'round, the Quattro brought supercar performance to the performance-devoid early 1980s - 0-100km/h in 7.1-seconds was deliriously quick for a stock street car.

While the road car was quick, the Group B rally model offered Formula One-level performance. The original rally-spec UR featured a twin-cam cylinder head, marginally smaller 2.13-ltire engine, along with a K27 turbo and Bosch EFI to make 225kW (300hp) in 1980. Just five years later the factory Quattro S1 E2 models were making double that power (447kW, or 600hp) at the peak of Group B. 

 

To homologate the upgraded short-wheelbase Quattros for the 1984 WRC, Audi sold an extremely limited number of cut-down, high-horsepower Quattro Sport models. Producing 225kW (300hp) in road car form, the  Quattro Sport also introduced anti-lag to the World Rally Championship.

 

 Audi took out the 1982 and '84 World Rally Championships, finishing runners-up in 1983 and 1985, and taking out 23 victories before the Group B class was banned at the end of the 1986 title. Audi even took Quattros to the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, obliterating records in the mid-1980s and taking four consecutive victories from 1984-1987.

Nearly 11,500 road going examples of the UR Quattro were built between 1980 and 1991, with the ground-breaking model partially hand-assembled. It set a template for Audi, which they followed up with the RS2 production car beginning the RS story...

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