You’ve Come a Long Way, Audi: Coupe Quattro Retro Review


Today, Audi delivers the best in performance luxury with all-wheel drive. The 1990 Coupe Quattro was an inkling of greatness to come.

Whenever you visit an Audi dealership today, you’ll see only the best Ingolstadt has to offer. Luxury, performance, and, of course, the legendary quattro all-wheel drive, all in whatever package you’d like. Those who prefer to keep things chill have the A models, while those who want all the power head straight to the RS lineup. Meanwhile, the S machines attract those looking for the right balance of luxury and excitement.

This wasn’t always the case, though. Audi had to work to get to where it is now, the inklings of greatness to come emerging through models like the 1990 Coupe Quattro. Let’s see what MotorWeek thought of it, while pointing out how far things have come along in 30 years.

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

“When Audi introduced their first quattro back in 1980, a lot of people just couldn’t figure out why anyone would want all-wheel drive capability in a sport coupe,” said John Davis. “Now, virtually every car company is offering at least one model with all-wheel drive.”

Of course, none could offer a combo of all-wheel drive, performance and luxury like Audi could back in the day. That said, Audi was still earning its dues back then. For one example, the Coupe Quattro didn’t have a turbo, and the driver could still manually lock the rear diff for slippery conditions. Not to mention the five-cylinder engine, a quirk long since phased out in favor of inline-fours, V6s and V8s (and, in the case of the R8, V10s). Meanwhile, today’s quattro handles all of the locking and unlocking on its own, and turbos can be found in all but the A models.

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

“The engine builds power slowly at first,” said Davis. “This is not the kind of car that impresses anyone running away from a stop light. But once the tachometer needle approaches the 4,000-mark, things being to happen.”

Even the 2021 A4 Sedan with the 2.0-liter inline-four bests the Coupe Quattro off the line, reach 60 mph over 3 seconds faster. Of course, that inline-five on the Coupe Quattro sounds pretty boss. And while burnouts aren’t going to be a thing with quattro, beasting over the competition still is, especially when rides like the RS 6 Avant and RS Q8 leave the rest in the dust.

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

“Priced at $29,750, the Coupe Quattro includes leather, wood, power windows, power door locks, a security system, and more,” said Davis. “All the amenities you’d normally see on luxury sedans.”

One of the amenities no longer available? The Audi ski sack, located in the center of the rear seat on the Coupe Quattro. Instead, you can just fold down the seats to set your skis down. Meanwhile, the tech of today’s Audis is a far cry from the “Seventies American sedan” look for the HVAC controls. Not to mention the fact that once upon a time, everything was a button or a knob.

All in all, it’s neat to see what Audi was like back in the day. Especially when we’ve got the Audi we have now.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aside from her contributions to Audi World, Aubernon can be found all through the IB Auto Group family, including 6 Speed Online, LS1Tech, and Team Speed. She also has her own independent automotive blog, Aubernon Highway.

Aubernon can be reached through her public Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. She is wary of those she doesn’t already know, though; thus, she may not respond to messages sent.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

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