Audi For 1997
By Carey Russ
"Vorsprung durch Technik" is the motto of Audi. Translated from German, it means "leading the way through technology." Audi was an early proponent of front-wheel drive technology in the 1930s, and the pioneer of all-wheel drive for high-performance on-road use with the development of the Quattro system in the 1980s. Nearly two- thirds of all Audis sold in the U. S. are Quattro models. Four lines of Audi cars are offered for 1997: the A4 sports-luxury sedans, the A6 midsized sedans, the Cabriolet, and the new A8.
Audi continues to innovate for 1997. New to these shores this year are the top-of-the-line A8 and sporty A4 1.8T. The A8 makes extensive use of aluminum in its construction for light weight, and the turbocharged A4 1.8T brings Audi style and performance to a new, wider market.
"Excellence without excess, class without mass" as they say at Audi. The new flagship A8 uses a revolutionary aluminum space frame technology to reduce weight without compromising chassis rigidity or safety. The V8-powered A8 is available in front-wheel drive form with a 3.7-liter engine or 4.2-liter Quattro trim. Both engines are matched to 5-speed automatic transmissions. The A8 is considerably lighter than any competitors.
The luxurious leather accommodations of the interior are complemented by the safety of the rigid aluminum space frame, which was developed with American aluminum producer Alcoa. It incorporates a central safety cage with front and rear crush zones. Not only are there side-impact protection beams in the doors, each door has a side-impact air bag. All outboard three-point safety belts are adjustable for height.
New last year, Audi's entry-level model proved quite popular. What to do for an encore? How about a lower-priced, but fully- equipped, turbocharged version?
The new 1997 A4 1.8T uses a 5-valve-per-cylinder dual overhead cam 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower. Typical of Audi turbo engines, there is plenty of low-rpm torque for flexibility and real-world driving. Initial shipments will use Audi's class-exclusive 5-speed automatic transmission in both front- wheel drive and Quattro form. A manual transmission will be available at a later date.
The original V6 version, now known as the A4 2.8, continues with refinements to the interior and central locking system.
1996 was a good year for A6 sales, and Audi has plans to make 1997 even better with new options and revised option pricing. The middle Audi comes in sedan and station wagon body styles. Power is from a 2.8-liter V6, matched with a 4-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Quattro an option. An Audi A6 wagon with Quattro can do what most sport-utilities are really used for with greater comfort and better handling. Audi calls it the "un-SUV".
The V6-powered Audi Cabriolet has become more affordable for 1997. A new value-priced base model is now offered as well as a more-comprehensively-equipped premium model.