Street-Spotted: Audi 5000CS Turbo

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

When we see Audis of the 1980s in traffic, it’s mostly the 4000 and the original Quattro that we spot, usually on the way to some classic event. But years go by between sightings of one of the 5000.

Once upon a time Audi was Volkswagen’s slightly upmarket brand peeled off from DKW, with its large sedans taking its styling cues from the NSU Ro80. But in the 1970s Ingolstadt decided that it wanted to compete with The Big Boys, but not quite with V8 or inline-six power.

The Audi 100 and 200, which is how the second-gen model was sold in Europe, became the 5000 in North America, because Americans were impressed by bigger numbers—which is probably true.

The third-gen model, seen here, arrived for the 1984 model year offering a chiseled exterior, a spacious cabin, and inline-five engines positioned near the nose of the car.

If you recall, its immediate predecessor (also badged 5000, and offered from 1978 till 1983) had four round sealed-beams in a rectangular frame—a similar setup that greeted the Peugeot 505 when it debuted stateside. It’s the kind of thing you don’t see anymore, even on collector cars.

The third generation of the 100/200/5000 didn’t wear the Glasses of Shame anymore, as the US government stopped caring about your safety and stopped mandating round sealed beams on absolutely everything.

You might also note that while this is a 5000CS Turbo model, is it not a Quattro-equipped model.

the back of a car


We are probably more used to seeing the 5000CS Turbo Quattro at auctions, but this is the FWD model, which is perhaps rarer today.

Audi offered front-wheel drive in its sedans as a standard feature, though most of the examples that survive (and inevitably trade hands on Bring a Trailer) tend to be of the Quattro variety.

“The Audi 5000CS Turbo advances performance and convenience with turbocharged horsepower and a standard feature list that defines it as an engineering marvel among luxury sedans,” ad copy of the time boasted.

Those features included power front seats with memory for the driver, a trip computer, and a two-way tilt and slide electric sunroof. Massive overhangs were also standard.

“From its new, 5-cylinder, 2.22-liter engine turbocharged to a muscular 158 horsepower, to its upgraded instrumentation—the Audi 5000CS Turbo is a standing invitation for anyone who loves to drive,” Audi promised in its literature of the time.

Those who had a little extra money to spend could also specify quattro all-wheel drive.

At the time, neither Mercedes nor BMW (nor Opel, for that matter) offered an AWD system in their luxury sedans, and this was a major selling point for the 5000, as well as the smaller 4000.

But despite promises of a “muscular 158 hp,” acceleration from the 2.22-liter inline-five was not spectacular, by modern standards anyway. MotorWeek tests of the time clocked the 5000CS Turbo Quattro model at 9.5 seconds from a standstill to 60 mph, equipped with a manual transmission. The quarter-mile arrived in 16.5 seconds at 84 mph.

The 5000 also hails from a somewhat awkward and tragic period in Audi history in the US, which is also why seeing an Audi from this timeframe remains a somewhat uncommon event for us.

This example from Connecticut has obviously been kept tidy enough by the looks of it, and we’re sure that a few more years will pass before we see another one outside of a classic Audi event.

Which Audi models from the 1980s do you see most commonly in your region, if any? Let us know in the comments below.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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