Audi in the 1990s: The Best Models of the Decade

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If you’re a car enthusiast, then the 1990s were an incredible time for you. Among many other things, this was the decade that saw the rise of Audi as a leading luxury car manufacturer.

Between 1990 and 1999, Audi released several brand new models that would go on to become classics, and have a lasting impact on the automotive industry.

In this article, we will take a comprehensive look at all of Audi’s new models from the 1990s. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this trip down memory lane!

Audi in the 1990s

It was a transformational decade for Audi, as it moved towards competing at the higher end of the German car market. The early part of the 1990s saw the company rely on its tried and tested methods, with the Audi 80, 90, and 100 models.

The Audi Coupé and Cabriolet were the sportier choices and remained on sale throughout the majority of the decade, but these too were based on the ever-present Audi 80.

Both the Coupé and Cabriolet were well-received by the market, and their combination of sporty handling, German engineering, and elegant styling made them a popular choice for luxury car enthusiasts.

The Audi RS2

Audi RS2 Avant

It was when the RS2 Avant was launched in 1994 that the fun really started. Once again it was a car based on the 80, but this time Audi sought assistance from Porsche in developing a high-performance, practical estate car.

It was the car that launched the RS brand, and one that would pave the way for future generations of powerful estate and saloon vehicles.

The RS2 was essential to take Audi to the next level when it came to performance vehicles, and in many regards helped the company to catch up with its German rivals BMW and Mercedes in this market.

Fewer than 3000 Audi RS2s were ever built, and production only lasted until 1995. But the gauntlet had been thrown down, and the car has retained a cult-following ever since.

The Audi ‘A’ cars

The 1990s also saw the introduction of the Audi ‘A’ cars. The all-new A4 and A8 models were launched in 1994 and would become the backbone of Audi’s executive saloon range, with the latter being targeted at the higher-end of the market.

The A3 hatchback joined the line-up in 1996, and the first ever A6 took over from the 100 in 1997, giving Audi a solid platform in the majority of markets.

The Audi A4

Audi A4 B5

The Audi A4 was first introduced as a replacement for the aging Audi 80. The A4 was designed to be a more modern, spacious, and efficient car, and it quickly became one of Audi’s most popular models.

The A4 was available in both sedan and wagon body styles, and it came with a variety of engine options. In addition, the A4 featured Audi’s trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system, which helped to give it excellent traction in all weather conditions.

It wouldn’t be long before Audi’s performance specialists got their hands on the A4, and the result was the impressive S4 in 1997, and the legendary RS 4 in 1999.

The A4 quickly became known for its sharp handling and great build quality, and it remains one of Audi’s most iconic models to this day, with several iterations of the car having been released since its initial launch.

The Audi A8

Audi A8

Audi released the A8 as its new flagship for the 1995 model year. The A8 was a departure from previous Audis, with a more streamlined look that was inspired by luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Under the hood, the A8 was powered by a range of V6, V8, and even W12 engines. It was also packed with features like heated seats, state-of-the-art climate control, and a Bose audio system.

While the A8 wasn’t cheap, it quickly became one of the most popular German luxury cars on the market.

The A8 was a major departure from previous Audis, and it helped to establish the brand as a leader in the luxury car market. Today, the A8 remains one of the most beloved models in the Audi lineup.

The Audi A3

Audi A3

The Audi A3 was introduced in 1996 as a compact hatchback with a luxurious interior and cutting-edge engineering. It was an instant hit, and it soon became one of the most popular cars on the road.

The A3 was available in both petrol and diesel engines, and it came with a host of features and options that set it apart from its competitors.

These included a Haldex all-wheel drive system, electronic stability control, and a brake-force distribution computer.

The A3 remains one of Audi’s best-selling models, and it has spawned a number of different variants. The powerful S3, for example, was added to the range in 1999, which quickly became a favorite with Audi enthusiasts.

The A3 continued to be a success throughout the following decades, cementing Audi’s reputation as a leading manufacturer of premium hatchbacks.

The Audi A6

Audi A6 C5

The Audi A6 was introduced in the mid-1990s as an updated version of the Audi 100. The A6 featured a more modern design, with a more curvaceous body and an updated grille.

Inside, the A6 offered a spacious cabin with plenty of legroom and headroom for passengers. While the original A6 was essentially a rebadged Audi 100, the new 1997 model was an all-new design.

Under the hood, the A6 came equipped with a range of engines, including a 2.8l V6 that produced around 190 horsepower.

An S6 with a 4.2l V8 was added to the lineup for European buyers, with a whopping 286 horsepower and an optional six-speed manual gearbox.

An RS 6 model would also eventually be introduced, but not until the early 2000s.

Audi A2

Audi A2

While Audis of the 1990s are often associated with sleek design and cutting-edge features, one model in particular stands out for its innovative approach to engineering: the Audi A2.

Unveiled in 1999, the A2 was constructed largely from aluminum in order to save weight and increase fuel efficiency. In addition, the A2 featured a number of other fuel-saving features, including a stop-start system and narrow tires to reduce resistance.

While the A2 was ultimately discontinued due to low sales, it remains an important part of Audi’s history and an interesting example of automotive engineering.

The Audi TT

Audi TT 8N

In the 1998, Audi introduced a new line of cars that would come to define the company’s sleek and sophisticated image: the Audi TT.

It featured a striking design with a rounded shape and frameless windows. Inside, the TT offered plenty of high-end features, such as leather seats and a multi-speaker sound system.

The TT was available in both coupe and roadster versions, and being a quirky, unique-looking car meant it had all the ingredients to take the sports car market by storm. And that’s exactly what it did.

It was lauded for its sharp handling and stylish design, and it quickly became a favorite among driving enthusiasts, and the original is now considered a cult-classic among collectors.

While the styling wasn’t to everyone’s taste, there’s no denying that the TT provided a fine driving experience and great value for money, initially with a 1.8l turbocharged inline-4 and the option of Audi’s ‘Quattro’ four-wheel-drive system.

Today, the TT remains an iconic car, and its design continues to influence Audis of the 21st century.

Final thoughts

When examining Audi’s lineup of today, It’s clear that many of the models have their roots in the 1990s. In fact, the majority of today’s lineup were developed in the ‘90s.

The 1990s was an important era for Audi, and it’s clear that many of today’s models were initially developed during that decade. The ‘A’ range, the performance RS cars, and the TT have all been extremely successful ever since.

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

Adam’s insights have been recognized on platforms such as MoneyInc, Swagger Magazine, and Top Speed.

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