Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,500 – $3,200*

1990 Audi V8

1990 Audi V8

1990 Audi V8

1990 Audi V8

1994 Audi V8 quattro

  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Handling/roadholding
  • AWD traction
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Road noise

Fast and powerful with the 1992-94 engine, at least, the V8 Quattro boasted nearly every modern safety and comfort feature for its day. What this sedan lacked was an appeal wide enough to generate substantial sales. Prices remain strong even today, but a V8 Quattro can yield a satisfying–if nonfrugal–highway experience.


On sale in July 1989, Audi’s new high-performance luxury “flagship” sedan challenged such logical rivals as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar. Exterior styling resembled Audi’s 100/200 series, but only the front and front doors were shared with those models.

Priced at a hefty $47,450, the V8 Quattro held a 240-horsepower, 3.6-liter aluminum V8 engine with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Power went through a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission to a permanently engaged all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Normally, engine output was split 50/50 between front and rear axles. When wheel slippage was detected, extra power would be sent to the axle with the greatest amount of traction, giving the best possible chance of getting underway properly. In extreme situations, all the power could temporarily go to either the front or rear, wherever it was most needed.

This was the first Audi Quattro model with an automatic transmission, fitted with three modes: E for higher fuel economy; S for sportier performance; and M for manual operation. An automatic shift lock required that the brake pedal be applied to shift into a drive gear. Standard features included a driver’s airbag, antilock brakes, 2-sided galvanized steel body panels, leather upholstery, a Bose sound system, and a cellular phone.

Yearly Updates

1991 V8
A 5-speed manual transmission became available this year, as a no-cost option in place of the standard 4-speed automatic.
1992 V8
A larger engine and a passenger airbag went into the 1992 model of Audi’s flagship sedan.
1993 V8
Few changes were evident this season. Only one powertrain was available: the 4.2-liter twin-cam, 276-horsepower V8 engine with 4-speed automatic transmission and permanently engaged 4-wheel drive. The 5-speed manual transmission was gone.
1994 V8
Changes were few for the top-of-the-line Audi’s final season in this form. Except for new colors, the only revision was installation of new ellipsoid fog lights within the front fascia. A replacement for the V8 Quattro was expected for 1995, and arrived in 1997 as the A8 series.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

As its name suggest, the V8 Quattro sedan was powered by a V8 engine: initially, a 3.6-liter dual-overhead-cam unit that produced 240 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. Only a 4-speed automatic transmission was available in 1990, but a 5-speed manual gearbox could be installed on 1991-92 models. For 1993, a 4.2-liter V8, rated 276 horsepower, replaced the 3.6-liter engine.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/217
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 245
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/254
Engine HP 276
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 295
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


Road Test

Offering every available safety and convenience feature, the V8 Quattro is one impressive automotive achievement–but it’s clearly not a car for everyone, even where money is no object. Even those who can afford a car of this caliber might find Audi’s flagship to be more in tune with the German Autobahnen than with American interstate highways.

The combination of firm suspension and wide Z-rated tires give it commendable–even amazing–stability at high speeds, but also makes the ride harsh and noisy on rough roads and patched pavement. Tires also generate considerable noise, which can get tiresome on long drives. Steering, on the other hand, is precise and responsive.

Audi’s initial dual-cam V8 engine delivers strong, prompt passing response on the highway, but lacks brisk off-the-line acceleration–especially in “economy” mode. Around town response might be better in “sport” mode, but in our test of an early model, the transmission reverted to “economy” every time the engine was started. Highway fuel mileage is disappointing, whatever the mode. The stronger V8 for 1992-94 will be appreciated when trying to move this 2-tonner away from a stoplight.

Among this sedan’s impressive attributes is outstanding traction. Audi’s sophisticated all-wheel-drive system is a wet-weather ally that sets the V8 Quattro apart from other high-priced luxury sedans of the early ’90s.

Fuel economy is poor. We averaged 17.2 mpg overall with an early model, reaching a high of 21.8 mpg on the highway. When new, the V8 Quattro’s price included a stiff federal gas-guzzler tax, as well as a luxury tax.

Four adults have plenty of space in a well-designed interior. The large trunk has a low liftover height.

Though the V8 Quattro is impressive in many ways, and makes a fine road car, most Americans will probably find models such as the Lexus LS 400, Infiniti Q45, and Cadillac Seville much better suited to their driving tastes.


Model Tested: 1992 Audi V8 Quattro

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 4

Total: 55


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.4 191.9 71.4 60.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.7 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 37.5 41.7 36.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: A leak in the connector on the transmission’s final-drive housing causes the engine to stall when coming to a stop. (1990-94)
Description: The ABS kicks in at speeds below 20 mph due to weak signals from the wheel speed sensors that may have to be replaced and regapped. (1990-92)
Description: The power locks for the doors and fuel door fail because the vacuum hoses come loose requiring new clamps and/or longer hoses. (1992-94)
Description: The screw holding the rearview mirror comes out and the mirror falls off. Reinstalling the screw and coating with thread locking compound is the repair. (1990-92)
Oil consumption
Description: The oil capacity stated in the owner’s manual (10 quarts) is incorrect, and the level has been changed to 8.5 quarts. (1991)
Description: The ratchet mechanism fails in the adjustable armrest. (1990-94)

Recall History

Description: Instruction label for jack operation is incorrect.
Description: Bushing that guides cruise-control rod can, over time, deteriorate and cause rod to bind, which may impede return of throttle plate to its full idle position.
Description: Some airbag sensors do not comply with durability standards over lifetime of vehicle; if sensor should malfunction, airbag can deploy inadvertently.
Description: Capacitor in rear speakers could leak and cause overheating or potential fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.