Audi is a luxury brand and a Volkswagen Group company. The emblem has been marketed in North America for decades, but has only gained strength this century. Audi is one of the largest and fastest growing luxury automotive brands in the world.
Founded as Audi Automobilwerke in 1909 by August Horch, the company’s trademark four interlocking rings reflect the 1932 merger of four Saxony automakers: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer. The names “Horch” in German and “Audi” in Latin both mean “hark” or “listen.” August Horch chose Audi because the company he founded in 1899 and later left due to a dispute still owned his name. The later acquisition of Horch by Audi brought everything full circle.
In 1965, Volkswagen acquired a 50 percent stake in Audi, increasing it to controlling interest the following year. Today, Audi shares platforms and components with other Volkswagen brands, although its management, design and engineering are unique.
Audi competes directly with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, as well as with Jaguar, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Volvo and Acura. Buick models can also be cross-shopped with Audi’s entry-level offerings. Bentley, Porsche and Lamborghini are just a few of Audi’s sister brands.
The 1980 Audi Quattro changed everything about the marque. Also known as Ur-Quattro, German for “first-of-its-kind Quattro,” this midsize road and rally car established Audi as a World Rally Championship contender and winner. Indeed, beginning in 1981 and running through 1985, the Audi Quattro took home 23 WRC first-place trophies, and was crowned WRC champion in 1982 and again in 1984.
Quattro, meaning four, also represents Audi’s all-wheel drive system and technologies, a permanent system found on nearly every Audi product built today. Quattro provides exceptional handling, enabling the company to turn a conventional front-wheel drive platform into a world-class player.
The majority of contemporary Audi models have a simple two-digit naming convention. Most cars start with an “A” and follow that with a number. Audi’s current sedan lineup includes the A3, A4, A6, A7 and A8. Models such as the Audi S3 represent the brand’s S-Line performance products, while vehicles such as the RS 5 coupe embody the ultimate in track-ready performance for Audi.
TT models represent the brand’s compact two-door sports car line. The Audi Allroad is a wagon-like crossover, while most crossover SUV names start with a “Q” and follow that with a number. The Audi Q3, Q5 and Q7 currently comprise the automaker’s SUV lineup.
Audi models are prized for several attributes, including style, build quality, materials used, performance and fuel economy. A line of clean, turbodiesel engines enables Audi to blend performance with fuel efficiency. Select hybrid models are also available.