RAC Cars News


Audi's UK Half Century

By raccars Published

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2015 marks 50 years since German brand, Audi, introduced its cars to the UK. Previously called Auto Union, and part of Daimler-Benz, its roster of vehicles was less than impressive, but it did have the Bavarian Ingolstadt production plant in its arsenal. Partly to get its hands on that factory, Volkswagen bought what became known as Audi in 1965.

VW gave the Audi brand a makeover and used the new F103 model to introduce it to England. It used a Daimler-Benz sourced, four cylinder engine and was available with two or four doors and as a saloon or an estate. A few years later, a range of new models was introduced, classified by power output and named the 60,75, 80 and the Super 90. All this time, VW kept the brand very much under its wing, but in the background, engineers of the former Auto Union were working on an all new project, the Audi 100. This went expressly against directions from VW head honcho, Heinz Nordhoff, who wasn't really interested in any further development of the Audi brand. Nonetheless, once introduced to the 100, Nordhoff was impressed and authorised production status.

With the 100, Audi's rebirth as a premium brand was complete and the car, launched in 1968, was hugely successful. Its arrival in the UK coincided with a population growing accustomed to having some disposable income, after the lean post-WWII years. The range included a large saloon and smart 100 Coupe.

In 1971, Audi began using its famous 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' slogan, meaning 'progress through technology.' In 1972, the spectacular new Audi 80 replaced the F103 series and took the European Car of the Year title.

For the Seventies, the 80 was updated, introducing the quattro four wheel drive system. In the ensuing years, Audi sought premium manufacturer status with the likes of the 200, and the brand really came into its own in the Eighties, with the legendary Audi Quattro, which achieved massive commercial and sporting success in the UK and internationally.

The 100 and 80 models continued as stellar performers for the firm, along with a 90 and a sexy Audi Coupe. In the 90s, Audi updated its nomenclature to launch the 'A' prefix, complemented by 'S' line high performance models and super hot 'RS' versions. Over the years, it has been famous as a favourite of Princess Diana, among others, and has gone from strength to strength in the UK and elsewhere. It's now a part of the big German three, one of the three best-selling luxury brands in the world with BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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