Meeting my childhood automotive hero was the best thing I've ever done
I've heard more times than I can remember that you should never meet your hero, especially an automotive one. Countless times people have said they did and it wasn't like they pictured - ruining their memory of a car, this put me off driving a Quattro as the last thing I wanted to happen was to warp my warm fuzzy feeling of my childhood dreaming about one.
Whilst attending a media drive day (where most manufacturers attend), suddenly I was given the chance to drive said automotive hero - on a closed track, on a sunny day. I could have skipped to the car I was so excited - I felt 10 again and I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel.
The child in me was nervous but excited, please don't be rubbish!
Finally, the moment arrived - I stepped inside. The seats were surprisingly comfy, the interior extremely retro (in a good way). Turning the key, suddenly the 5-pot sound arrived - that iconic noise I remember from growing up - even on idle it gave me chills. Burbling away it's a car which isn't understated - you can tell it's quick just by the noise.
My first impression was how heavy the steering was, compared to modern cars it felt totally connected with the road. The clutch required a bit of learning, the gearbox had a longer throw than I originally expected but everything else was exactly as I'd dreamt it would be. Connected, precise, beautifully put together - epic sounding too. Meeting my hero wasn't so bad?!
How does it feel?
After a little bit of driving in circles getting everything up to temperature, finally it was time to peel off and join the Alpine Circuit. Flooring the Quattro, the noise took me back to one passing me on the street as a child. The 5 cylinder sound is like a symphony on wheels which also happens to propel the Quattro to 62mph in 6.3 seconds - not bad for a car from 1989!
The throttle is extremely responsive, the gearbox throw while long is appropriate and anything but unusable. The steering feel was precise with fantastic road feel and you get a true sense of what's going on around you constantly. Audi claim that the Quattro should finish accelerating at 138mph, however judging by how strongly it was pulling - it can definitely go a fair bit beyond that. 217bhp and 309Nm torque tends to help with that...
The wheel isn't upside down normally... I'm just an idiot and forgot the re-centre it in my excitement...
The thing that I just couldn't get over was the level of grip the Quattro gave me, in any situation it just dealt with it. Too fast for a corner? Not a problem, it's going to hold you in place without even a sign of understeer. On a twisty circuit it was so rapid that a chap in a Stelvio Quadrifoglio couldn't lose the tail of the Quattro. On the staight he'd pull away, however the second the corners came back the Audi would catch up at a lightning pace - gripping like it was on literal rails, never letting go.
After about 10 minutes of driving I felt so connected with the Quattro that I literally didn't want to ever give it back. The control, the noise, the feel, the looks - it was a dream car for a reason... but this automotive hero didn't disappoint. If anything this hero achieved beyond my dreams making me want to own one as an adult more than anything else.
There were originally more people in this photo - I removed them in post so you can see more Quattro...
This is the bad bit
I've been searching Autotrader, eBay, CCFS and many other sites trying to gauge a price - what I've discovered isn't good news. A bad example is about £20,000 (non-original, intergalactic millage, rust, non-original engine) while a good example is upwards of £50,000 (even with high millage). The car from Life on Mars was recently brought back to life by Audi and sold at auction, annoyingly it didn't make mega money - which is annoying because if I knew then what I know now, I'd have been one of the bidders.
If you want one which is perfect condition, ready to go, isn't going to cost you thousands over a short timescale - you're spending upwards of £50,000. However, it's an investment you can enjoy. Every time you turn the key, your heart will race. Every time you floor it at the lights, you'll feel 10 inside. It's a beautiful thing which isn't without its faults, however they just give it more charm.