The Audi Coupe was a two-door sports car produced over two generations from 1980 to 1996. While other Audi vehicles have been released as a coupe model, this article focuses on the Coupe model available during 1980 to 1996.
Audi Coupe Introduction and Design
The first public unveiling of the Audi Coupe occurred at the 1980 Paris Salon. It was being introduced as a more affordable option than the Audi Quattro, at first only coming in front-wheel drive. It was based on the same platform as the Audi 80 and Audi Quattro, the Volkswagen B Group. The introduction of the Audi Coupe came on the B2 platform. They were internally known as the Typ 81 in front-wheel drive. Later years included the addition of a Quattro four-wheel drive version, and those were known as Typ 85. The external design was very similar to the Quattro, although some lines had been softened to make sure the Quattro retained the aggressive styling and high-performance look. 1984 saw some exterior changes including wrap-around bumpers and refaced grille. That is the same year the Quattro version of the Audi Coupe became available, now giving a four-wheel drive option.
Engine Options and Performance
As with many Audis, the Coupe was available with a variety of engine options, including many inline-5 options such as a naturally-aspirated 1.9L, 2.1L, 2.2L, and 2.3L. Those looking for more economical options could choose a 1.8L or 1.6L inline-4 engine with as little as 75 PS. The first generation received some changes over the course of the production run from 1980 to 1988, with a Coupe GT being first offered in 1986. The Coupe GT featured a 1.8L inline-4 engine with 112 PS shared with the Volkswagen Golf GTi. The 1988 model year offered a boost in performance using a 2.2L inline-5 which produced upwards of 130 horsepower. Throughout the course of the first generation run from 1980 to 1988, 174,687 units were produced.
Second Generation Updates
The second generation Audi Coupe started production in 1988 and was built on the Audi B3 platform. It was internally known as the Typ 8B and shared many features with the Typ 89 Audi Saloon being produced at the time, just on a smaller platform with three-doors. The main difference between the Coupe and the Saloon could be seen in the suspension. The Coupe used a modified rear suspension and all-new front suspension which would later be seen in the Audi 80 B4. Engine choices included a 2.3L and 2.0L with 113 horsepower. A 20 valve version of the 2.0L engine was built for the Italian market to keep under the 2.0L engine size and the tax consequences that resulted from larger engine sizes.
Other Variants of the Audi Coupe
A high-performance variant of the Audi Coupe was designed and built in 1990, known as the Audi S2 with a top speed of 150 mph thanks to its turbocharged 2.2L engine with 217 horsepower. It was meant to be a replacement to the Audi Quattro and boost overall sales of the Coupe. It had Quattro four-wheel drive and a 5-speed manual transmission. A 1992 upgrade increased performance to 227 horsepower. In North America, the Coupe GT was brought over and sold as 1990 and 1991 model years only. Those select vehicles featured a 2.3L inline-5 engine detuned to 164 horsepower paired to a 5-speed transmission. Some upgrades included leather seats, wood trim, and locking rear differential. The low horsepower with increased weight made this more appropriate as a grand tourer than a sports car. A convertible option of this platform was released in 1991. It was called the Audi Cabriolet. While the production of the Audi Coupe would cease in 1996, the Cabriolet continued on until 2000. The Audi TT was essentially the successor to the Audi Coupe, although not a direct replacement.