Audi's five-cylinder engines are a cult object; partly due to the successes achieved in motor racing and also due to its reliability and economy. They have played a key role in defining the slogan "At the forefront of technology" and continue to provide an exciting driving experience with distinctive sound today.
The first five-cylinder gasoline engine was mounted on the Audi 100 in 1976. Known internally as the Type 43, it was born to position itself above its predecessor in the market. According to its developers, the four-cylinder engines of those times were not suitable to achieve this goal. For this reason, in the early 70s, Audi engineers considered introducing in-line five or six-cylinder engines.
The latter were discarded due to the space required for their installation and the unfavorable weight distribution. So Audi engineers opted for the inline five-cylinder engine, based on the new EA827 engine concept, a four-cylinder widely used by the Volkswagen Group during the 70s; for example, Audi mounted it in the Audi 80 and Audi 100 models. The five-cylinder engine derived from this family, with 2,1 liters of displacement, produced 136 hp (100 kW). A modern injection system increased efficiency and power delivery. Sales of the Audi 100 with this engine started in March 1977.
Already in 1978, Audi introduced the first diesel version: a two-liter naturally aspirated engine with an output of 70 hp (51 kW). A year later, the first five-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine made its debut - another prodigious advance from Audi. With a power of 170 hp (125 kW) and 265 Nm of maximum torque, it powered the then new top of the range, the Audi 200.
The five-cylinder gasoline engine on the "original" 1980 Audi quattro - the "Ur-quattro" - had even more to offer. Equipped with a turbocharger, intercooler and permanent four-wheel drive, it constituted a powerful technical set for its development aimed at both the racing tracks and the road. Initially, it delivered 200 hp (147 kW). In 1983, Finn Hannu Mikkola won the World Rally Championship drivers' title with this car. In that same year, Audi introduced the Sport quattro version, which was 24 centimeters shorter and featured widened tracks. It was powered by a newly developed five-cylinder with four valves per cylinder made of aluminum, capable of delivering an output of 306 hp (225 kW).
This made the Audi Sport quattro the most powerful car ever built by a German brand for use on roads open to the public. The model formed the basis of a new Group B Rally Car, with the multi-valve engine delivering 450 hp (331 kW) in its racing version. It was used for the first time in the penultimate round of the 1984 World Rally Championship, the Ivory Coast Rally. The other eleven rounds of the season were contested by Stig Blomqvist with the Audi quattro A2 Group B, which developed 360 hp (265 kW). In the end, the Swedish driver won the Drivers' Championship and Audi won the Brands title.
Even after Audi's withdrawal from rallying in 1986, there were other notable racing successes. In 1987, Walter Röhrl won the Pikes Peak Climb (USA) with the Audi Sport quattro S1; the racing car delivered 598 hp (440kW). And in the American IMSA GTO Touring Car Championship, Audi stood out in 1989 with its staging by offering 720 hp (530 kW), with an engine of just over two liters of capacity.
Audi unveiled another milestone in automotive history at the 1989 Frankfurt International Motor Show: the Audi 100 TDI. It was the first production car to be equipped with a turbocharged five-cylinder diesel engine with electronically controlled direct injection. This engine, with a capacity of 2.5 liters, generated a power of 120 hp (88 kW). At the same time, Audi continued to refine its range of five-cylinder petrol engines: in 1994 the Audi RS 2 with 315 hp (232 kW) hit the market. With the power of a racing car and a family body, it created a new segment.
In 2009 there was a big comeback: with turbocharger and direct petrol injection, installed transversely in the Audi TT RS, the 2,5-liter capacity engine developed by quattro GmbH produced an output of 340 hp (250 kW). It also delivered exceptional performance in the RS 3 Sportback and the RS Q3. The TT RS plus, which Audi introduced in 2012, produced an impressive 360 hp (265 kW). Today, the 2.5 TFSI in the Audi TT RS produces an output of 400 hp (294 kW). An international jury of motoring journalists has chosen the five-cylinder 2.5 TFSI "Engine of the Year" seven times in a row since 2010.
The first Audi equipped with the five-cylinder engine can be seen at the Audi Forum in Neckarsulm. The classic car exhibition “From Zero to 100” features numerous exhibits, with which Audi reviews the history of its award-winning model. You can also see one of the first units of the Audi 100 - from 1989 - with the five-cylinder TDI engine. The exhibition will run until November 6, 2016.