The smart collection of Audi 80 estates is spectacular in it’s extremes comprising a range of stylish and generally swift load carriers with economical turbo diesels at one end and very rapid 4 wheel drive expresses at the top end.
While perhaps not the biggest load luggers on the market the 80’s are an eminently practical size for any family needing the use of an estate on a fairly regular basis yet not requiring a voluminous – and often impractical “near van” -, family size rather than the catering pack.
From near the top of this range comes this week’s test car the 2.6 E Estate, with all of the practicality, style and quality of the rest of the range but in this example with a very smooth and powerful V6 engine for effortlessly long legged motorway cruising and very spirited overtaking.
Clothed in an elegant, sleek body, the 80 estates are made, as ever with Audi’s, to the highest build standards and fully zinc galvanised for long life. Also remarkably long are the service intervals with a checkover service at 12 month / 10,000 mile intervals and major servicing every 20,000 miles.
As stylish inside as out, the cabin is spacious and well trimmed with an airy feel engendered by lots of light coloured plastics and slim glazing pillars, excellent seating, both front and rear, and ample head and legroom.
The rear seat splits and folds to create a huge load through space, from 13 cubic feet with the rear seats up to a very commodious 42 cubic feet with them folded down, easily reached via a big hatch and with a low floor fitted with tie-downs.
Safety has long been a major Audi selling point and all of the 80 estate range have ABS as standard, all are fitted with the award winning, Procon Ten system and all offer superb side impact protection.
Standing for Programmed Contraction and Tension, the remarkable Procon Ten safety system reacts to an impact at any speed over about 15 mph by tightening the front seatbelts to prevent the occupants being thrown forward and at the same time pulling the steering wheel away from the driver, all of this taking a bare 100th of a second. On a purely subjective level this car just plain feels safe.
The driver faces a curvy, user friendly, dash with good, clear, instruments and all switchgear easy to reach. The 80 estate is highly fitted as standard with power steering, electric windows, front foglights, ABS, central locking, the Procon Ten safety system, side impact bars, electric mirrors and an excellent stereo all featuring. The boot also contains a first aid kit and warning triangle.
The heart of this superb estate is a very powerful, fuel injected, 2.6 litre V6 engine, 150 bhp smoothly delivered and, more importantly for an estate car, a massive 166 lbs/feet of torque for good pulling, all proof, yet again, that the V6 engine design perfectly combines smoothness, power and compactness. This delightful engine was mated in the test car to a very slick, 4 speed, dual range, automatic gearbox for almost imperceptible shifts.
Both ride and handling are very good, the ideal blend of smoothness and comfort with just enough stiffness for good handling. For an estate car, the 80 feels very composed, it corners remarkably flat and the 195/65 tyres afford good grip, always seeming poised when pushed, very safe, surefooted and with the excellent power steering enabling the car to be perfectly placed. All disc braking with ABS allows powerful, repeated, stops with minimal fade.
As a powerful long distance strider or practical around town load carrier the 80 is a very easy estate to live with, just the right size for most people’s needs, safe and predictable in all it’s responses, sporty enough for most drivers, capacious and well built with good safety features, a value for money package with real style.
PRICE AS TESTED £20721
TOP SPEED 126 MPH
0-60 11 SECONDS
FUEL CONSUMPTION 21 MPG [ SIMULATED URBAN]
38 MPG [CONSTANT 56 MPH ]
First Published 1994 – © Graham Benge 1997