The Carchive: The 1984 Audi Coupe

It’s time to head down to the shoreline once again and find out what’s been washed up on the jagged rocks of motoring history. Welcome back to The Carchive.
This series doesn’t always draw people to take the jump like perhaps it should, and this is often because the headline image doesn’t exhibit much zing. The more interesting the picture, the more likely people are to want to know more. Unfortunately, the cover of today’s brochure is one of the most boring I’ve seen in my entire life. I promise it gets more interesting after the jump.

“With the Audi Coupe, Audi have not only been successful in creating a particularly elegant body, but have shown that this can be combined with providing room for all the family”
What?! How boring! Audi had here a car which shared its silhouette with that legend of gravel and tarmac, the Ur Quattro, and from some angles, if you dim the lights and squint a bit, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the presence of Mouton or Mikkola’s preferred ride. Yet not once in this brochure is that fact mentioned.
This particular brochure deals with the post 1984 facelifted version. The Coupe and the Quattro were released pretty much in parallel, but the lesser car was, obviously, hugely simplified over the four-wheel-drive machine with its Walter-Smith wheelarches. Common to both, though, was the availability of a warbling, soulful five-cylinder engine.
“the Audi Coupe is a sprinter as well as a long distance runner; a true grand tourer”.
The Quattro obviously grabbed all the headlines, but the lesser car wasn’t entirely lacking in spirit. Its 2.2 litre engine lacked the tickling from Kühnle, Kopp & Kausch and made do with 136hp. But they were delivered to only the front wheels without the transmission losses inherent to AWD machineries, and this combined with reduced weight allowed 0-62 in 8.6 seconds with 126mph arriving if you kept your toe down long enough.
If performance wasn’t the be all and end all, you could opt for a two-litre version of the same, with 115hp, or for rather more pedestrian ambitions of speed, there was a 1.8 litre four with just 90hp to its name. If you had given up completely on the concept of excitement, the teaming this engine with a slushbox yielded a 105mph maximum, with 62mph coming up after 13.3 loooong seconds.  Before the 1984 facelift a 1.6 version had been available. Shudder.
“People wishing to buy a different car will find that the Audi Coupe has been designed for them”.
Yep. This was correct. The Audi Coupe didn’t have a great many direct rivals. There was a two-door version of the BMW 3-Series sedan, but that wasn’t really a coupe, and all rival coupes (Ford Capri et al) were a good deal less sedan-like than the Audi, if you get what I mean. I suppose the Opel Manta hatchback was close in concept, and the Sierra XR4i shared the same three-door fastback practicality, as well as having a good bit of poke when needed. The Audi, though, had arguably greater cachet.
And it was helped by the halo-effect of the car’s styling. Few cars were as distinctive, and the ’84 facelift further improved the looks, introducing some light rounding off of extremities which effectively hid the wrinkles, and continued to do so for a good few years yet. At this point I would like to register my hope that factory-tinted rear light clusters will come back into vogue.
“The interior of all Coupe versions allows for comfortable hours of travel”
Though it did begin to become dated, the Coupe interior remained a strong point thanks to its versatility. The silhouette allowed for rear headroom that wasn’t hugely more restricted than at the front, and the minimal tapering of the cabin made for decent elbow-room for two rear passengers, or the option of a third if a little shoulder-contact was acceptable.
Looking through this brochure it strikes me that the Coupe was one of those cars which has greater appeal now than it did when it was in production. Looking back it stood out from the standard Audi Sedan range far more then than the equivalent Audi A5 Coupe does today, and though some pundits labelled the sharp-edged styling “frumpy” at the time, today it looks light and crisp and poised.
Ain’t time a funny thing?
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Audi AG, who now sell cars in about five times as many market niches as they did in the ‘eighties. The Ur Quattro ended production in 1990, but it doesn’t stop Audi wheeling one out for display every now and again to remind the world what they used to be so good at)

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  1. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Ahh, the 80's… Control pods! Everything angular! Lots of buttons!

    1. Manic_King Avatar

      And I was wondering how come Audi used car with a lot of blank buttons, no A/C, not even pleather in that ad. Could have filled up those pods. Or maybe button logos are behind steering wheel.
      <img src="; width="570">
      Also, why not to use car with the digital dash?
      <img src="; width="570">

  2. Alff Avatar

    A surprisingly clean '84 Audi Coupe showed up on my local Craigslist about a year ago as I was looking for a car for the kids. I was excited, my kids thought it was so ugly they insisted they'd ride the bus instead. I should have bought it.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      The GT was usually down my list since it was FWD. But they were fun cars to drive. I wouldn't mind having one today.

  3. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    This car still makes me shiver. I love it. I want it. With a turbo 5-cylinder.

  4. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
    Ate Up With Motor

    These are one of those enthusiast cult objects I just don't get. It doesn't help that in the States, these had only 100 horsepower (up to 115 in '85 — whee), but the stodgy styling, ho-hum performance, econobox specification, and iffy reliability reputation all leave me cold personally. I don't discount the importance of quality over quantity, and I've heard people get rapturous about the road manners of these cars, but the so-so power, hefty price, and high repair costs would have put me off.

    1. Manic_King Avatar

      Cult thing comes from rally history and photos like one below, probably. FWD 100 hp car doesn't have much in common with these.
      <img src="; width="625">

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Stodgy styling? It's probably the only Audi I ever fell for.
      <img src=""&gt;

    3. nanoop Avatar

      In Europe, they don't have that much following – they are a car for enthusiasts today, similar to Corrados or Sciroccos, but nothing hyper-cool.
      I can't say how they were perceived when new due to a lack of years since I was born.
      The minimalistic title page was… not ready?

  5. Lincman Avatar

    I am not too familiar with Audis from the 1970s/1980s? were they considered luxury cars…Sports cars?
    it looks kind of cheap interior wise

    1. JTuhka Avatar

      They were just regular cars. Some of them were literally just tarted up VWs. At one point the only difference between VW Polo and Audi 50 besides the badges was the fact that the Audi had a cigarette lighter as standard.
      By the mid-80's Audi's reputation was quite upscale (200/5000/Quattro). I think the 1988 Audi V8 was the point when they became (again) a "premium brand".

  6. geistkoenig Avatar

    I've made mention of my ownership of a pre-facelift '84 Coupe GT, black over tan vinyl, in several places.
    All of the above is true. We only got the 2.2 inline-5, though. (Could have used slightly bigger brakes.)
    I still miss mine.

  7. r_toaster Avatar

    It's a toss up between the brochure advertising the car as a clean sheet design or just slightly unfinished. Or maybe it's invisible.
    While I still like the Coupe, its younger brother the 80 (B4) is probably the better buy, but has some drawbacks. Very much like the thought of E30 ownership vs. how you could have just purchased the faster, arguably better E36.

  8. deepestgrey Avatar

    A small point of contention – the fuel tank in these cars is mounted vertically behind the rear seat, so the rear seat doesn't fold down. You're not getting much stuff into one of these cars easily, but you can squeeze a couple of golf bags into the trunk.
    Also, they're quite fun to drive with a few suspension and engine mods, even with the motor hung way out in front of the front wheels.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      My god, you're right! The next gen folded, these didn't. Oops!