The Audi 5E was a good example of modern European
car design. It incorporated all the latest technological
advances available in the late 1970’s and early
It was not cheap, mainly due the high
import tariffs being imposed at the time, but for
those seeking a better car, it represented excellent
The most unusual design feature was the five-cylinder
overhead cam engine. The five-cylinder arrangement,
while being common in diesel
engines, was unique
in the petrol-engine world.
Audi claimed that the
five-cylinder engine had the smoothness of a six
and the economy of a four.
The engine displaced 2144cc,
was fuel-injected, and pumped out a healthy 85 kW
at 5300 rpm and 165 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.
to its rather high weight and tall gearings, the
5E was always a little slow off the mark, but once
it got moving, especially on the highway, the performance
The top speed was around 170 km/h
and naturally enough, being that it was a German
car, it was happy to cruise at 150-160 km/h all day.
5E was driven through the front wheels, a system
Audi had been using since the 1930s (and almost
as long as Citroën, the first manufacturer to
employ front-wheel-drive successfully in a production
The front-wheel-drive system was excellent,
and for the most part it was virtually impossible
to detect which wheels were being driven. Fuel consumption
was also quite good, with an country driving average
of 10 liters/100 km, to a around-town figure of 11
.5 liters/100 km.
The suspension system up front was
independent through coil springs, while a beam axle
was used on the rear. On the road, the 5E was sure
footed and predictable. It would handle a variety
of different surfaces with a minimum of fuss and
transmit little of the road irregularities to the
driver and passengers.
was a smart, typically German, three-box, four-door
design that not only succeeded aerodynamically, but
is was attractive from all angles – however
the otherwise good all-round vision was somewhat
spoiled by the thick front pillars. The front head
and leg room was good, but rear leg room suffered
if the front seats were pushed all the way back.
finish was excellent and well in line with other
more expensive German sedans from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The 5E enjoyed enormous success in Europe and America, and
if the government hadn’t imposed such draconian
import quotas and tariffs it probably would have
proved far more successful in Australia too.