Premium compact car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,200 – $3,900*


1993 Audi 90 S 4-door sedan


1994 Audi Cabriolet


1995 Audi Sport 90 Quattro 4-door sedan


1997 Audi Cabriolet


1997 Audi Cabriolet

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy
  • Wet-weather traction (Quattro)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Acceleration (w/automatic transmission)
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Rear-seat room
  • Road noise

Audi’s 90 had some attractive features, including a sporty manner (at least with the 5-speed), available 4-wheel drive, and solid feel. Nevertheless, it did not sell strongly in the “near-luxury” market, which was dominated by such Japanese-brand models as the Acura Vigor, Infiniti J30, Lexus ES 300, and Nissan Maxima SE. When these cars were new, dealers offered big discounts to spur sales, so expect to find lower-than-average used-car prices for all except convertibles and high-performance models.

Overview

A V6 engine, borrowed from the bigger 100 series, edged aside the old 5-cylinder powerplant when Audi restyled its smaller sedan. Replacing the former 80/90 models, the new 90 came only as a 4-door sedan on a wheelbase two inches longer than before. Overall length grew by four inches. Three versions went on sale. The 90 S and 90 CS versions were front-wheel drive, while the 90 CS Quattro Sport got permanently engaged all-wheel drive. Antilock all-disc braking and a driver-side airbag were standard.

Yearly Updates

1994 90/Cabriolet
Audi’s first convertible, the stylish Cabriolet, arrived in 1994 on the 90’s platform, but 2.2 inches shorter in wheelbase. Cabriolets came only with an automatic transmission and seated four. Only a single trim level was available, with a lined power top that stows beneath a hard cover behind the back seat. A passenger-side airbag was installed in all models for 1994, and the 90 S sedan could get optional leather upholstery and a power tilt/slide sunroof.
1995 90/Cabriolet
For 1995, all-wheel drive became available on entry-level models. A new Sport90 edition got a lowered sport suspension, sport seats, cloth interior, and 5-spoke alloy wheels.
1996 90/Cabriolet
A roomier and more daring A4 sedan arrived for 1996, displacing its 90 predecessor, but the Cabriolet continued on the old 90’s chassis.
1997 90/Cabriolet
Audi cut the Cabriolet’s price by $2200 for 1997, but replaced the standard power top with a manually operated top. Leather upholstery, previously standard, now joined the option list along with the power top. This year’s central locking system unlocked the fuel-filler door. Later in the model year, solid headrests replaced open units.
1998 90/Cabriolet
Little changed for ’98 and the convertible was dropped altogether for ’99.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

All models carry a 2.8-liter V6 engine, with 5-speed manual shift standard (mandatory on the Quattro). A 4-speed automatic transmission was available in the 90 S and CS, and standard in Cabriolets. Quattro models had permanently-engaged all-wheel drive, but others were front-drive.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.8/169
Engine HP 172
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 184
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
20/26
18/26
18.7

Road Test

Though a smooth runner, and a lot zippier than its predecessor when equipped with 5-speed manual shift, the V6 Audi lags in off-the-line acceleration with 4-speed automatic. Without a doubt, the engine runs smoothly and quietly, and power delivery is very linear. However, that automatic transmission drains the engine’s ability to deliver quick bursts of speed in around-town driving. The automatic also shifts rather abruptly and tends to hold each gear too long. Audi’s 5-speed gearbox, on the other hand, is smooth and precise. So is the car’s clutch. The V6 engine demands premium fuel, though mileage is good.

Expect plenty of tire and suspension noise on any imperfect surfaces, plus a ride that’s a bit too firm on harsh urban pavements. Tar strips and small bumps do not go unnoticed, though bigger obstacles are taken in stride. Stable handling from the taut suspension imparts a secure feeling at highway speeds, with good grip in hard corners.

The dashboard layout is businesslike, with clear audio and climate controls, plus a large round speedometer and tachometer. Interiors look a bit austere in the 90 S, but CS versions with their wood accents appear somewhat dressier. Either way, the materials that are used impart an impression of quality.

Most drivers are likely to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Seats are firm and supportive, with height adjustments for the shoulder belt and lower cushion. Despite the longer wheelbase, interior dimensions are virtually identical to the previous model, but trunk space grew from 10.2 to 14.0 cubic feet, increasing its utility. Front-seat space is ample, but the rear lacks leg room, giving the interior a rather cramped ambience.

Cabriolets look great but suffer from excessive body shake and flex on bumpy roads–out of character for the car’s hefty price when new (and used, too). Performance is acceptable in day-to-day driving, but the lack of low-speed power and imperfect shift action makes it feel lethargic. Front seat space is adequate for average-size adults, and head room beats most convertibles. The rear seat is useful only for children. Controls are well-positioned, but the radio has too many small, poorly marked controls. Several competitors offer a glass rear window with electric defogger, in contrast to the Cabriolet’s plastic pane.

Recent models have been well-assembled. The “Audi Advantage” plan covered most routine maintenance for three years or 50,000 miles.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Audi 90S

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.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 45

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
100.6 176.0 67.6 54.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.6 17.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 36.4 40.7 26.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.8 180.3 66.7 54.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.0 17.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 37.2 42.2 32.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 90 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

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

Collision 146
Injury 71
Theft 50

Trouble Spots

Climate control
Description: Intermittent climate control operation can be caused by a loose wire on the control center. (1993-94)
Cruise control
Description: The cruise control may not maintain speed due to a defective vacuum servo unit. (1995)
Oil leak
Description: On any model with the V6 engine, the rear main seal may leak. (1993-94)
Rough idle
Description: Dirty throttle body bore and throttle control module commonly cause rough or low idle. (1998)
Steering noise
Description: A clunk from the front when the steering wheel is turned is caused by a heat shield on the left motor mount that may be striking the bracket. (1993-94)
Wipers
Description: The wiper blades skip or jerk across the windshield, which may damage the blades or scratch the windshield. (1993-96)
Check-engine light
Description: If vacuum hose to EGR valve doesn’t have enough slack, check-engine light may come on without drivability issues. (1995)

Recall History

1993
Description: Some airbag sensors do not comply with Audi’s durability standards.
1993-95 w/V6 engine
Description: Internal seal of fuel injector can malfunction, allowing fuel leakage.
1994-96
Description: Defective ignition switch can cause some accessories (turn signals, lamps, wipers) to malfunction when engine is started.
1995-97
Description: Discharge of static electricity in low humidity conditions can activate driver’s airbag when driver enters or exits car.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.