Audi Drag: 2022 RS 3 vs. 1985 Sport Quattro S1

Audi Drag Race

Wonder how a modern performance-tuned Audi stacks up to one of its racing ancestors? Watch this video and find out!

The 1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1 is — to put it mildly — a wicked-fast piece of kit. After all, it was designed to compete in Group B, the most terrifying era of rally that ever existed. But since time waits for no person or car, the fact that it’s nearly four decades old can’t be overlooked. So it’s interesting to see how this purpose-built racing machine compares to one of its modern, street-legal ancestors — like the current Audi RS 3. And fortunately, thanks to our friends across the Pond at carwow, it doesn’t have to be a bench race.

In this video, host Mat Watson lines up Ingolstadt’s latest ferocious compact sedan with the venerable S1, which is being driven by an Audi factory driver. As fans of the Four Rings know, both cars are packing turbocharged five-cylinders under the hood. But here, the power advantage goes to the older thoroughbred, as the RS 3 is producing 400 horsepower to the S1’s 500 ponies. And that’s despite the fact that its modern mill is up on displacement — as it’s 2.5-liters as opposed to 2.1-liters. Just goes to show that when daily drivability isn’t taken into consideration? Output can shoot into the stratosphere.

Given it’s a street car, which has things like air conditioning, infotainment, other creature comforts, and legions of safety nannies, the RS 3 is also over 1,000 pounds heavier than the race car. That’s a serious delta to overcome, even if it’s sporting a lightning-quick seven speed dual-clutch transmission, as opposed to the S1’s old-school six speed. Honestly, even though it’s not directly applicable here — as the S1 was never for sale at a dealership — one phrase kept running through my head watching this video. And that’d be: “The last days of the old technology are better than the first days of the new technology.”

Hopefully, that little tidbit didn’t spoil the video, because it’s amazingly fun, and frankly, it makes me jealous of folks who get to experience the glory of old race cars. Seeing something like this is a reminder of just how unhinged the performance of these old warriors was, and how frighteningly different it was than the road-going vehicles of the time. So check out the clip, and if you’ve gotten to pull a Ken Block and hammer on some old racing cars? Hit me up and tell me about it!

Photos: YouTube

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VIDEO: Six Glorious Minutes of Classic Audi Quattro S1 Noises

Audi Quattro S1 Group B

Words are unnecessary when the Group B legend that is the Audi Quattro S1 turns up for some vintage rallying and hill-climbing fun.

It’s amazing how one small change made such a big impact upon the world. Such was the case with Audi and its then-new quattro all-wheel drive system in the Eighties. Back then, it was novel to send all the power to all corners in a family car, and especially in high-performance cars. Yet, Ingolstadt proved one didn’t need to buy a truck to get the benefits all-wheel drive offered.

And of course, what better way to prove the point than by entering rallying under the FIA’s insane Group B regs. The moment all four wheels carved the quattro name into the dirt, they also etched Audi’s name into history. Thanks to this compilation by Palbo64 Rally & Racing Videos, we get to see – and hear – this history play out on the vintage rallying and hill-climbing circuits, in the form of the Audi Quattro S1.

Audi Quattro S1 Group B

Not only do we see the classic yellow and white livery of the Quattro campaigned by the likes of Michele Moulton and Walter Rohl, but a few other classic paints, too. There’s one with the Audi Sport colors of black, gray and red, of course. Then, there’s the red and white of the Belga team Quattro, once campaigned by famed Belgian driver and co-pilot Marc Duez and Willy Lux.

Audi Quattro S1 Group B

No words are necessary to explain how awesome these machines are. The Audi Quattro S1 more than speaks for itself with every pop, crackle, roar, and chirp from its turbocharged inline-five. The sound of the Group B monster in all its forms gives the angular coupe the proper voice for all of its adventures on paved and unpaved roads. Not to mention exciting the gathered crowds in this day, just as it did at the peak of madness decades ago.

Audi Quattro S1 Group B

The best part of all this, though? The teams who care for and preserve these legends today. Without them, all anyone would have of the Audi Quattro S1 would be historic footage. Long may the legend live.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.