Fast Audis have an odd reputation these days. For all the hits—R8, RS6, that lovely mid-’80s RS4—there are twice as many misses. Against sharper German rivals, RS products often feel a bit aloof.
Perhaps we should all be forced to drive one of these alongside every new RS. Because the Audi Quattro feels no more extreme. Which is enough, given its superlative stance and glorious motorsport past, to make my tummy sink. I’ve longed to drive one of these and the fact that it’s not a scary, histrionic homologation special like some of its contemporaries feels something of a letdown.
But, speak to anyone with vivid memories of this car’s launch—at the 1980 Geneva International Motor Show—and it’s quickly apparent I’ve nestled into its heroically retro upholstery with the wrong expectations. My head is full of yellow-and-white rally cars throwing up rooster tails of snow. The reality, in road-car trim at least, is very different.