Focused on the NSU Ro 80, a car that was far ahead of its time, a new advertising slogan was introduced in 1971 that has since become the key message underlining the expertise of the company: “Vorsprung durch Technik”.
In the spirit of these new guiding principles, the first-generation Audi 80 (B1 series) was launched in 1972, with a glittering array of new technical features such as a new series of OHC engines and self-stabilising steering roll radius. By the time production of this first generation ceased, more than a million cars had been built.
1974 saw the appointment of Ferdinand Piëch as Ludwig Kraus' successor, initially as Head of Technical Development. During the "Piëch era" Audi was transformed into a highly innovative car manufacturer. This period also witnessed the gradual raising of the Audi brand's positioning. The five-cylinder engine (1976), turbocharging (1979) and quattro four-wheel drive (1980) are eloquent testimonies to the success of this policy.
The Audi quattro, which made its debut in March of 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show, represented a quantum leap in the new positioning of the Audi brand on the world stage. The expression “Vorsprung durch Technik” applied quite literally here. Outstanding traction through a permanent four-wheel drive and two manually lockable differentials made the Audi quattro perfect for use on smooth or icy surfaces.
Audi's subsequent progress has been marked by a sensational range of technical innovations: fully galvanised bodies, the most aerodynamic volume-built saloon of its time, the extensive use of turbocharged petrol engines, the development of economical direct-injection diesel engines, the aluminium body, the first hybrid vehicles, direct petrol injection and the manufacture of luxury-class cars with eight and twelve-cylinder engines are just some of the many mileposts that document the emergence of the Audi brand as a manufacturer of premium cars.