Audi 5E

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Audi 5E

1979 - 1983
In-line 5 cyl.
2144 cc
85 kW
3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
170 km/h
Number Built:
4 star
Audi 5E
Audi 5E
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4


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 1980’s. 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 value.

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. Due 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 was excellent.

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. The 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 car).

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 litres/100 km, to a around-town figure of 11.5 litres/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.

The body 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.

The 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.
Audi 5E

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