The 2.5-liter engine in the Audi TT RS follows a long tradition: Audi was the brand most noted for its five-cylinder engines in the 1980s. The powerful engines sharpened the new, sporty profile and made a decisive contribution to Vorsprung durch Technik.
The five-cylinder unit was a stroke of engineering genius, unifying the efficiency of a four-cylinder with the cultivation of a six-cylinder at a lower weight and compact dimensions that permitted transverse mounting in front of the front axle. It debuted in spring 1977 in the Audi 100 5 E and was a hit from the very beginning. Fed by a hypermodern fuel injection system, the 2.1-liter engine produced 100 kW (136 hp) to offer strong performance with good fuel economy.
The family grew quickly. A five-cylinder, normally aspirated diesel with a displacement of two liters and producing 51 kW (70 hp) was released in the fall of 1978. A year later saw the debut of the first turbocharged, five-cylinder gasoline engine – another pioneering feat from Audi. With an output of 125 kW (170 hp) and 265 Nm (195 lb-ft) of torque, the new top model, the Audi 200 5 T, was one of the fastest sedans of its day. The principle of downsizing – the use of turbocharging to replace displacement – already resulted in good power and high efficiency 30 years ago.
High-flying engine: The five-cylinder unit in the Audi quattro
A year later, the new engine had its biggest impact yet – in the 1980 Audi quattro. The two technologies, turbo and all-wheel drive, quickly formed a dynamic duo of success on the road and on the racetrack. The turbocharged five-cylinder produced 147 kW (200 hp) when it first went on sale. In the 1984 Sport quattro, a direct motorsports derivative, it produced 225 kW (306 hp) – and was thus the high-flying engine of the 1980s.
The strength and ruggedness of the Audi design was proved in the World Rally Championship competition cars, where the highly-boosted five-cylinder churned out a good 350 kW (476 hp). The high point in the motorsports career was marked by two extreme racing cars. The Audi Sport quattro S1, with which Walter Röhrl won the Pikes Peak (USA) mountain race in 1987, produced roughly 440 kW (approx. 600 hp). And the IMSA-GTO, a touring car based on the Audi 90, dominated the US racing scene with 530 kW (approx. 720 hp) from only 2.2 liters of displacement.
In series production, Audi continuously refined its range of five-cylinder gasoline engines, which had displacements ranging from 1.9 to 2.3 liters. The engine concept also enjoyed great success in the diesel sector. The 1989 Audi 100 TDI, a 2.5-liter model putting out 88 kW (120 hp) and 261 Nm (193 lb-ft), is a milestone of automotive history.
In the mid-1990s, the five-cylinder engines were gradually replaced by the new V6 units, but not without one last hurrah: The 1994 RS 2 produced 232 kW (315 hp). As a sophisticated Avant with the power of a sports car, it established an entirely new class of automobile.
The equipment, specifications and prices stated herein refer to the model line offered for sale in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.