Collectible Classic: 1990-1991 Audi 90 Quattro 20V

1990-1991 Audi 90 Quattro 20V

The 20V engine was paired only with all-wheel drive, a sport suspension, and a five-speed manual transmission, confirming this as the driver's car of the 80/90 lineup. The 2.3-liter five-cylinder demands that you keep the tachometer needle aimed high, and its heavy flywheel requires a big stomp of your right Piloti to blip revs between gears. There's a stiff spot in the accelerator pedal's travel that tells you when you've begun to open the secondary throttle butterfly -- and that's when the real music starts.

In a television interview, Michèle Mouton once said that if she had one emotion about rallying, "of course, it's the noise of the Quattro. I mean, nobody can forget the noise. Even today, I think we miss this kind of noise."

We, the rally fans, most certainly do. But Kacher was right -- luxury-car buyers clearly prefer smooth, torquey, low-revving six-cylinder engines. The 90 Quattro 20V survived only two years, and when a high-output version of the 90 returned, it did so with a wheezing, twelve-valve, six-cylinder engine. A V-6, in fact, was chosen because its short length meant it could easily fit where no in-line six could.

But in Audi's book of heritage and history, there's room enough for only one hot 90 sedan-the one with five cylinders, twenty valves, and an ABS kill switch.

THE SPECS
ENGINE: 2.3L DOHC I-5, 164 hp, 157 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
DRIVE: 4-wheel
SUSPENSION, FRONT: Strut-type, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR: Strut-type, coil springs
BRAKES F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
WEIGHT: 3180 lb

THE INFO
YEARS PRODUCED: 1990-1991
NUMBER PRODUCED Likely fewer than 1000 for the U.S. market
ORIGINAL PRICE: $27,500 (1990)
VALUE TODAY: $1000-$3000
WHY BUY?: The 20V was a high-strung, all-wheel-drive, 135-mph autobahn stormer that derived its coolness from Audi's rally heritage. Sadly, that didn't matter to luxury-car buyers, making this a very rare car indeed. The 90 Quattro 20V's powertrain was also installed in the slightly more common 1990-91 Coupe Quattro, which is heavier and more expensive.

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