Audi History

Audi is one corner of the mighty German luxury-automobile triangle, the other two being Mercedes and BMW. The company was started in 1909 by August Horch, whose surname translated into Latin is “Audi”. During World War II the company, like many other German manufacturers, was forced into producing munitions for the war effort, for which it paid a heavy price after the war when it was essentially closed down by the Soviets.

In 1932 it merged with three other automobile manufacturers/ racing outfits- Horch, Wanderer, and DKW, to form Auto Union. Their symbol was 4 interlocked rings representing the 4 members, which is now Audi’s famous badge as the sole survivor of Auto Union. The International Olympic Committee sued Audi in 1995 owing to the logo’s similarity to the Olympics’ five-ring logo. Since 1964 the company has been part of the Volkswagen group, an auto giant that also includes VW, Lamborghini, Bentley, Skoda and the Spanish manufacturer SEAT.

Audi cars are known for their high-quality execution, and are widely held up as a masterpiece of German engineering precision, though simultaneously being somewhat emotionless and lacking in zest and passion. One definite exception to this is the fantastic R8, with its exotic Italian-supercar looks, handling and mid-engine layout. Other carmakers try to especially imitate Audi’s attractive yet functional interiors. For example the latest Audi A6 manages to combine a multitude of functions into its dashboard using just an LCD screen and a few buttons and knobs that rotate and click with a pleasing oily precision. Other famous Audi characteristics are: Quattro, the patented four-wheel drive system that brought much success in rallying; the full-length front grille that has recently made its way into almost all models; the LED daytime running lights; MMI (Multi Media Interface) which is a combination of LCD screen and controller that combines several car settings into a single interface; and FSI (Fuel Stratified Injection), which is Audi’s implementation of direct fuel injection.

Audi models

Audi models in New Zealand are as follows. First up is the A3, a hatchback. Next are the midsize A4 sedan and station wagon (Audi station wagons are labelled ‘Avant’), and its svelte sibling the A5 coupe and sportback. After that comes the large A6 sedan, meant to compete with the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-series; then the A8, a limo-like sedan that goes head-to-head with the Mercedes S-Class. All these are also available in the high-performance S models (S3, S4, S5 and S8), in which Quattro is standard, and also available as an option on some of the other models. There is a special version of the A6 called the RS6 which is a seriously quick car.

Also available are the off-roaders, starting with the Allroad, which is really a jacked-up A6 Avant with body cladding. The Q5 is a small SUV meant to scare the likes of Land Rover’s Freelander, Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander. The Q7 is the Q5’s enormous big brother, again to compete with the BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, Land Rover Discovery and so on. The ‘Q’ in the model names means of course, that Quattro is standard.

Audi also sells sports cars in New Zealand like the TT, a small coupe, and the aforementioned R8, Audi’s first supercar. The R8 also has the distinction of having its engine in the rear mid-engine position (between the driver and rear wheels), a layout that gives the best handling and weight distribution for sports driving.

Vehicle History

Before purchasing a used Audi be sure to get a vehicle history report from Checka. This will give you the ownership details, whether the odometer looks suspicious, if it's been reported stolen, and if there are any unpaid loans on the vehicle (security interests).

Looking at buying an Audi? Check the vehicle history of any Audi by entering its number plate in the field above.