Opinion : Anything we can do… they can do worse? – Audi 80

Keith Adams ruminates about some of the cars sold by British Leyland’s competitors – and wonders why it’s still so fashionable to knock our once-great nationalised carmaker even though its mistakes were echoed across the wider industry.

Here, in the fourth article of this occasional series, we look at the Audi 80 (B2) and compare its fortunes with the Morris Ital. Were we really that bad?

Audi 80 (B2): Efficient, simple and dull?

Audi 80

Bet you never thought we’d be comparing the Morris Ital with the B2-generation Audi 80. You know – the one that formed the basis of the amazing Quattro. But before you choke on your coffee and accuse us of putting lambs to slaughter, it’s worth drawing up the parallels – because there really are more than you’d imagine.

The two were facelifts of cars that were born in the early 1970s – and remained on sale until 1984. In the case of the German car, the original Audi 80 (B1) went on sale in 1972, a year after the Morris Marina was launched amid considerable glamour in Cannes in 1971. The B2 would go on to be launched in 1978, whereas the Ital followed a couple of years later before going off sale to be replaced by the Austin Montego in 1984…

That’s how, for four years between 1980-1984, these two cars went head-to-head for the hearts and minds of company car buyers in the UK. So, that’s the preamble out of the way, what of the cars?

The second-generation Audi 80 was part and parcel of Audi’s supremo Ferdinand Piëch’s desire to take the firm upmarket – but to achieve this without building heavier, more powerful, faster cars, as many of its rivals had been doing. That would be too easy for a company headed by an uncompromising Engineer. Instead, they would be more efficient.

Audi 80

So, the Audi 80 (B2) was larger than its predecessor and its engine range was broadly similar, spanning 1.3 and 1.6-litres (the top model being bored out from first generation model’s 1471cc), although the smaller of the pair was not offered in the UK. It was also distinguished by its neat and tidy styling by Giugiaro, which not only gave it class, but tied it in closely with the range-topping 100. But what made the 80 particularly clever was that it tipped the scales at less than 1000kg, it had a low-drag (for 1978) body and was impeccably engineered. These qualities really set it apart from the opposition.

At launch, the top-of-the range 80 GLS boasted 85bhp and put in a sprightly performance that put this 1.6-litre car on a level footing with most of its 2.0-litre rivals. In its July 1980 group test against the Mazda Montrose (626) and Princess, What Car? magazine said of its performance: ‘Light weight is an Audi hallmark and the Audi 80 is no exception. This philosophy allows the 1600cc overhead cam engine to achieve the same results as the heavier Mazda’s slightly more powerful 2.0-litre unit. Both cars accelerate to 60mph in a rapid 12.1 seconds.’

That efficiency was extended to the way the car handled – although it was less direct in its response than the 80 (B1) thanks to that additional wheelbase and length. What Car? again: ‘Audi has its damping rate sorted out, for though by no means smooth, the 80 is comfortable to travel in apart from the mildly disconcerting float on fast A-roads. When pushed to extremes, it will run wide on tight bends (as do most front-driven cars) but it conveys taut, responsive impression heightened by the throaty engine – but marred to some extent by excessively low-geared steering.’

Audi 80

So, a tidy performer blessed with neat dynamics, albeit nothing to get too excited by. Maybe, but the combination of lightness, interior quality and strong design meant that Audi was already gaining an appetite for charging a premium. What Car? concluded of the 80 GLS: ‘It is without doubt a good car, perhaps the best in this group, but in a guess the price contest it would be undervalued by some £1000. Like BMW buyers, Audi prospects are generally sold on the marque before they sign, but there’s no denying the appeal of the car’s quality feel. It’s a pity that it takes an Audi owner to recognise the deep-down sensibility of the design – something that is perhaps more important in the long run than instant showroom glamour.’

Sexiness would subsequently come to the 80, though. First with the fuel injected GLE model of 1980, powered by the same 110bhp engine you’d find in the original Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI. With a 0-60mph time of 9.2 seconds and a maximum speed of 112mph, it was up there with the BMW 320 – not bad for a relatively large car powered by 1588cc.

Once again, What Car? was impressed, concluding in a group test with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0-litre and BMW 320: ‘The Audi 80 GLE is not cheap, but it is well equipped and it is easily the most attractive of the group. Its appeal is not instant – extended acquaintance is needed to appreciate its cruising quietness, its convincing quality and overall efficiency of operation. It is quite spacious, creditably fast, and economical. Poor steering and hard-pressed engine are problems but what lets it down in this celebrated company is something less tangible personality – its relative lack of soul.’

Morris Ital

The move upmarket would continue with the arrival of the five-cylinder 80 CD in 1981, as powered by the same 115bhp 1.9-litre engine you’d find in an Audi Coupe. That was followed by the 80 Quattro in 1983, which gained more power and four-wheel drive to become one of the era’s more interesting mid-sized saloons. It seemed that Ferdinand Piëch’s wishes were beginning to come true for Audi.

The 80 then received another facelift in 1984 gaining softer front and rear styling as well as a new marketing approach that saw the five-cylinder models spun out into their own range, called the 90. It was a strategy that worked – and, by the time the B3-generation 80 and 90 rolled out in 1986-1987, the firm was charging eye-watering amounts of money for its entry-level models. Not bad for a car that originally differed from the Volkswagen Passat in its badges and model line-up.

So, Audi 80 or Morris Ital?

This has to be an easy win for the Morris. Sorry, just kidding! Of course it’s a win for the opposition.

In truth, the Audi 80 and the Ital really weren’t on the same planet, despite their similar timelines and intended customers, as least in the early days. The 80 was actually in the same price bracket as the Princess, and that appealed to a very different set of buyers. I must admit that I do have a dog in this fight – I own a couple of Audi 80 CDs, and have a long-standing thing for these compact saloons with their warbling engines, styling that’s neater than a Lufthansa air hostess’s uniform and their roomy, almost industrially stark interiors.

However, looking at the Ital alongside an Audi 80 (B2) you can see what BL was trying to achieve with its Marina facelift – and could have pulled off had the expectations not been set so high with its all-new nameplate. The front and rear styling of the Ital were very similar to the Audi – and, before you remind me that it was Harris Mann’s work, Ital Design were involved in both.

Morris Ital dashboard

But where the Audi could bimble up the motorway at a rep-friendly 90mph all day long, the Ital would have its driver’s knuckles turning white trying to do the same thing, such was the waywardness of its high-speed dynamics. In its September 1980 issue, What Car? compared the Ital 1.3 HLS with the Talbot Solara and Datsun Bluebird, and wasn’t impressed with its dynamics.

‘All aspects of the handling and ride come firmly under the mediocre heading. Most owners will probably only have to take a fast corner because they have unwittingly approached it too quickly, as there is little positive encouragement to enjoy the handling. Being rear-wheel drive, it follows the normal pattern of front first and rear afterwards, but it is probably the tail which is the worst offender. The leaf springs are simple and cheap to produce, but the rear end hops around without much provocation both on corners and on bumpy surfaces. The overall effect isn’t that bad for normal driving, and the ride is reasonable, but in view of the fact that we’re talking about a car with a new name, it’s slightly disappointing to have to think of the car as just an updated Marina.’

In concluding, What Car? placed the Ital plum last, saying: ‘If BL had brought us this latest offering as a new series Marina, then our expectations would have not been so high. But if they are going to allow themselves the prestige of a new model name, then buyers will expect more than just a facelift.’

Me, I’d agree with all of that. Although for some reason, I do secretly quite desire a Morris Ital. There’s something about it that I find indecently intriguing, especially a 2.0 HLS auto. Would it be enough to tempt me out of my Audi 80? What do you think? Probably not – at least not for more than about ten minutes and a series of bends…

Morris Ital

Keith Adams


  1. IIRC the next generation 80 put on a lot of weight and had a small boot which was hard to access. CAR magazine uncharacteristically criticised it in an article titled “Worth it’s weight?”

    • A day late for an April fool. And what’s foolish about it? Who in his right mind would choose an Ital over an Audi 80?

      • @ standhill,in 1980, Audi was a premium product that was out of the reach of most British car buyers and fleet managers considered them too expensive against the Cortina. The Ital would have sold to buyers wanting to trace in their Marina and had familiar engineering. Actually the Ital in 1.3 litre form was a big improvement over the 1.3 Marina, with better refinement, economy and performance, and the 1.7 was a decent motorway car. Yet compared to an Audi 80, the Ital was way behind in terms of driver enjoyment, handling and performance, with such things as fuel injection and five speed transmissions unheard of. Also while the Ital was better made than the Marina, it still felt cheap inside and there was the lingering doubts over its reliabillity, while the Audi was precision built and unllkely to go wrong if it was maintained correctly/

      • I’m sure there would be quite a few hard core self-flagellating British Leyland worshippers who would be more then happy to choose the Ital. An absolutely magnificent vehicle. The greatest masterpiece of Sir Michael Edwards.

  2. Back in the day I always liked the 80 for its neat, classy styling. But I was put off buying one (or most VW products in those days) by the extremely austere, spartan interiors. Everything seemed to be made from hard black plastic, moulded from a wheelie bin.

  3. I had a late 70s Audi 80 which ran on 2 star and was wholly reliable, efficient and soulless. Due to a change of circumstances this was followed by a 1.7 O-series Marina, which was much quicker in a straight line, but with woeful handling on B roads. It had character though, which one tired of eventually. Replaced with a second hand SAAB, Now on my 8th, even though they are no longer manufactured. Better than Audis and Marinas by a country mile.

  4. Audi never really got the premium reputation until BMW went Bangke, and Audi seemed the sensible choice. Before that they were the left field choice against Mercedes or BMW. A friend of the family had a 100, which was a nice ride, but as described above, didn’t feel special inside, and when it went wrong it was bloody expensive, even against Mercedes.

  5. With the Audi 80 I could never get used to the VERY spartan interiors, and the effect of all that engine in front of the axle which gave it such a lifeless understeer. The Ital (and late Marina) was a much nicer and quieter drive, but corners always needed to be an open-minded exercise in car control which eventually got tiresome. With the Montego waiting in the wings, I can almost understand why they didn’t upgrade the suspenders for the Ital.

    But the original thrust revolves around the apparent need of the Great British Public to knock anything British when it comes to cars and industry in general. It still lingers on that GB PLC is a second-rate brand compared with Germany, and our current ruling powers are doing everything they can to deteriorate that brand even more and increasingly so in the last 10 years.

  6. Speaking of German cars, while little remembered now, the Opel Ascona and Rekord were considered a more upmarket alternative to a Vauxhall and sold in reasonable numbers until the Opel and Vauxhall ranges were merged in 1982. I do recall the Ascpna Berlina with its headlight wipers looking very smart in 1980 and the Rekord being considered an alternative to the Audi 100, but with lower ownership costs.

  7. My Dad owned 2 Audi 80’s (later F and G reg). The G reg was fully colour coded and both looked well built solid cars… more upmarket than an Ital. Talking of Opel Ascona’s. I agree they were seen as higher spec than the Cavalier sister cars. Perhaps because they were rarer than the Cav on UK roads?

    • I think it was because they looked more upmarket than the dropsnoop Vauxhall, and their previous terrible reputation

    • A family friend Owned an Ascona Berlina back when I was a teenager. He’d been a Hillman man for years owning an Audax Minx and replacing it with a Super Minx. All very staid and sensible. Then he turned up with this Ascona in a striking shade of metallic green, sporty wheels, and headlight wash/wipe. Maybe it was his mid-crisis car. Anyway, I don’t know what sort use/abuse its previous owner had subjected it to, but that car didn’t half rust. Within a couple of years it was very tatty, the paint bubbling then flaking off to reveal swathes of rusty metal. It was a real shame.I’d never seen an Ascona rot like that before.

    • @ Hilton D, Opels were sometimes seen as a higher quality car than the equivalent Vauxhalls due to being German, even if the Ascona and Cavalier shared the same engines and there was little in it quality wise between a British( or Belgian) built Cavalier and the German Ascona. Also more equipment on the Ascona Berlina might have swayed some buyers over from a Cavalier GLS.
      The Audi 80 always was a more upmarket car than the British family cars, but came at a premium, same as the Volkswagen Golf was the most expensive car in its class. I do remember the senior mistress at my secondary school buying a metallic green Audi 80 GLS in 1980, which was the best car in the school car park, while the head had a base model Golf and his male deputy an Escort GL, However, being married to a building company owner probably helped, but Audis round here were uncommon at the start of the eighties and considered a car for the well off.

  8. @ Glenn… Yes indeed. As I recall, Cavalier GL trim cars didn’t get a rev counter or headlamp wipers either but the Ascona Berlina did. It was the Cavalier GLS coupe, Sportshatch and later GLS saloon that had the rev counter as standard fit.

    • I was a fan of Opel in those days and during the 80s I had two different Opel Manta Coupes. Both had rev counter and headlight wipers, and one also had a sliding sun roof. Great, underrated cars.

      • @ KC – the Manta / Cavalier Coupe is still one of my favourite cars of all time since 1976. I was only 20 when they launched so could not afford one back then sadly…

  9. The 80 B2 was anything but a quality product. Its corrosion speed put an Alfasud to shame (when have you last seen a car where the valve cover would dissolve), it had panel gaps wide enough to stick a thumb in, it saved weight by minimising panel thickness so you could easily dent the roof with a sponge and were therefore advised to use car wash only, its interior was made from nasty, hollow, brittle and shiny black plastic, you got a dashboard with exposed LEDs for idiot lights with a yellos main beam indicator because a blue LED was too expensive. At least its road manners were secure but bland as long as you didn’t need the brakes.

    • Nasty hollow shiny black plastic – Not at all like that high quality passenger focused dashboard you found in the Ital then.

    • The passenger oriented dashboard was a great idea wrongly executed.T
      Had they sold LHD cars in the UK the dashboard would have been driver oriented but the passenger would have had the steering wheel. Then the driver could have got drunk and the passenger could have driven home safely.

    • Oh yes, brings back memories of my Dad’s ‘breadvan’ Polo Formel E (Y reg) with its horrible exposed LED warning lights and nasty cheap interior. That car also had non-servo brakes, heavy and lifeless steering, and the most poorly matched gutless engine and long-legged gearbox. What a dreadful car. Who’d have thought the contemporaneous Audi would have a similarly horrid interior?

      • On top of the exposed LEDs you got column stalks that were made from hollow plastic, lost their color in UV light in no time and always gave the impression they would snap when used in anger. Worst was the red (original) pale pink (faded) stalk for the hazard lights.
        Those Formel E Volkswagens and Audis were awful cars, particularly those with a small engine. A Polo with what effectively was a three speed gearbox without first gear and additional excessively long overdrive was not a good idea. The only intersting thing about Formel E was that initial plans were for an electro magnetic throttle operation that at the slighest touch of the pedal would have snapped open the throttle valve to avoid throttle losses. This was vetoed by German TUV for safety reasons. On the road this would have been fun, at least Formel E cars would have properly accelerated away from traffic lights…

  10. So the premise of this article was that both this Audi 80 and the Ital where both facelifted cars. Fair enough – But the Audi was a facelift of a car only a few years old and based on a very contemporary set of mechanicals. The Ital was a facelift of a 10 year old car based on an ancient set of components that in some cases dated back to the 1940s.

    • Best interior on a family car from this era, the Ghia interiors found on Fords. Wood, velour, Ghia badges and a generous list of standard equipment, they made someone in a second hand Cortina Ghia feel like they were driving a Rover and even the humble Escort Mark 2 had a Ghia version. Audi, I think, went for the stark Germanic look that some people liked, but looked rather cold and harsh.

    • The problem is that the 80 B2 was not a facelift of the B1 but a new car with longer wheelbase, a six-light DLO and considerably larger body. Audis of that era are easily confused because the 80 always got a facelift halfways through its life to align it with the 100 that appeared at that time and introduced a new look. The 80 B1 got facelifted in 1976 to align it with the 100 C2, the B2 was facelifted in 1984 to align it (at least somewhat) with the aero-look 100 C3 and so on.
      The 80 also suffered from the introduction of a kitsch version called 90 when they thought they had to introduce a ridiculous 200.

  11. Glen Aylett : Your memories of Ford Ghia spec are somewhat rose-tinted in my opinion . They were typically tasteless Ford ,cheap and rather brash looking , and bore absolutely no resemblance to a well executed plush interior such as that of a Vanden Plas 1300

    • @ christoper storey, I certainly am not knocking the interior on a Vanden Plas 1300, as Vanden Plas were the masters at making an ADO 16 or even an Allegro into a miniature Daimler, but Ford must have thought imitating this would win over buyers, although leather was never an option on the Granada Ghia until the eighties. Bear in mind, lesser Fords had interiors like a coal mine and they made a point by blanking off switches that would be found on higher spec models, and the Ghia was an aspirational product.

      • @ Glenn… yes, the Ford base / L models of the 70s had black rubber flooring, vinyl seats and no rev counter or radio’s until GL spec upwards. Of course in those days most manufacturers offered the same. It was the likes of Japanese imports that accelerated the improvement of specification.

    • Fors marketing in the late 70′ and early 80’s was spot on. The Ghia badging was a stroke of genius and was something that customers aspired to own, the same as the XR badges did for the sporty versions…. a few years later other manufacturers did just the same

      • @ serialbuyer, Ford were also the masters of the special edition, where buyers would be tempted into the showroom to buy a special based on an L spec car for the same money with such desirable features for 1980 as a vinyl roof, tinted glass and a radio. These extras also meant the car had better resale and next time a buyer might have enough money for a GL, which had all these features as standard and made more money for Ford.

    • @chris storey, I do think that comment is a little wide of the mark. Ford’s Ghia models were just a nice package, whether you liked the velours door trim panels is a matter of personal choice, but the door cappings certainly lasted longer than anything attached to a Dolomite Sprint or the like. The Ghia models were simply nice, comfortable cars, a country mile away from the Popular or L models, which were, after all, dirt cheap.

      As to the VDPs, admittedly, the standard of those tray tables etc were at least a cut above what a Ghia offerred, but who really wants a French polished tray table in an Allegro? I always thought the attempt to make money by badge engineering basic BL models, decking them out with (silly) ostentacious trim parts was pointless and desperate.

      BL would have done better to fling the torsion bar and trunion suspension of the Marina/Ital/Moggy Minor and replace it with something that would go in a straight line, never mind around a bend.

  12. Entertaining read, although I’m not quite convinced by the comparison between the cars. I thought the idea was to see if BL cars really were worse than the competition, and it seems that – in this case at least – the answer is “most definitely yes”. Looking forward to Golf vs Allegro, SL vs Stag, Ferarri 308 vs TR7, etc.

  13. The article is an interesting mind experiment but no more than that. Even if you hadn’t driven an Ital, the design would turn anyone off. Yes, I know it is Italian styling but you can’t turn a Marina into a Countach, no matter how clever you are.
    The thing is with the German cars is that, whilst as dull as a whole set of dishcloths, the things worked. Even fairly pricy German cars were not much above Ford’s Popular or L spec, but cost a lot more. I can remeber Chris Goffey always going on about what a Passat didn’t have, not what it did have.
    Now the whole motor industry works like this, i.e. you get a good basic car, but have to spec everything you want even down to the cigar lighter.

    To summarise, to chose the Ital over the 80 (if you could have afforded the Audi at the time) you would have to be someone that didn’t mind the odd mishap and adventure over the boring practicality, predictability and soberness of the Audi.

  14. Our first family (mum’s) car was a silver Audi 100 LS, brilliant car that, ruined by the Sweeney (or Bristol RCS) chasing some criminals around the country forcing us into the hedge, writing off a driveshaft, which sadly cost so much that the car had to go. After that we suffered, a mk1 Escort estate, mk1 Facelift Capri, Renault 12, Metro 1.3 S…
    Oh how I missed the 100 LS

  15. We had two Audi 80’s a Dark Blue Audi 80 GL 1588cc 5 speed manual with an econ meter (x plate) and a later Silver automatic (1781cc) with a much improved interior (black not blue) with what I recall was pink rather than white backlighting. Both were fantastic cars and I am afraid far better than a Marina/Ital of the time.

  16. Early 1970s, Audi made a 2-door coupe/fastback 100, an attractive car in the styling of an Italian supercar,
    Jamie: the high cost of the replacement driveshaft, I can recall Audi cars being advertised for very low prices S/H private sales, the reason being the very high cost of spares put off potential owners, an exhaust system was more than three times the price of a Ford part

    • A number of 70s coupes seem to share the same styling feature of the big ventilation slats on the C pillar, it’s clearly a design choice. The Renault 17 has even larger ones!

  17. @ cyclist, I can remember the Audi 100 Coupe, a far classier alternative to a Capri, but considerably more to buy and maintain, so sales were never high. Most Audi sales in the seventies were of the bread and butter 80 and 100 models as the sporting and luxury models were too expensive for most buyers. However, Audi was carving a niche for itself among better off buyers who wanted something classier than a Ford, but couldn’t afford a BMW or Mercedes.

    • Trivia time… After Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 then Manager Bob Stokoe had an Audi 100 Coupe. I rode in this car while filming a piece for BBC Grandstand. I think it was a burnt orange colour.

      • @ Hilton D, my brother’s team out of interest( I don’t do football) and I do recall a Sunderland player buying a Chrysler 2 Litre, another left field choice, after the 1973 cup win. Also there used to be a really nice dark blue 100 Coupe in North Shields in a street dominated by British and Japanese cars that really stood out. It lasted until 1982 when the bodywork started to develop some nasty rust areas and was never seen again( probably too much for the owner to fix). Then he did something pretty boring and bought a Datsun Sunny.

  18. While VW was focused on making Audi into a premium marque during this period, leading to the 50 supermini being culled. Could Audi have gotten away with a smaller model prior to the A3 due to the second generation Audi 80’s and equivalent Passat’s increase in size without overlapping too much with the Golf and Scirocco / Corrado?

    The same platform would be used as a basis to create the Brazilian VW Gol that had a much shorter wheelbase against the mk2 Golf, although could a case have been made for Audi to use a more first generation 80 sized yet still related model to be the basis for a more unique entry level Audi that straddles between the C and D Segments?

  19. Back to the Ital, it was developed on a very limited budget as most of British Leyland’s stretched budget was going into the Metro, and the car managed to hold its own in the family car sector until the Montego arrived. 170,000 sales was quite good in just under 4 years and put the Ital third in its class. Obviously it lacked the sophistication of the Audi 80, but this wasn’t the point, the old Morris was intended as a stop gap model and honest, cheap transport. Bear in mind in 1980, most family car buyers who didn’t have a company Cortina or Cavalier would have been satisfied with a n Ital 1.3 HL and an Audi would have been too expensive in the pre eighties boom era.

  20. Keith,

    Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

    Back in 1987 I was looking to buy my first car. But I’d also recently bought my first flat, so I couldn’t afford anything flashy. I was thinking in terms of a late-model Ford Cortina, which were still fairly ubiquitous at the time, despite having gone out of production about five years earlier, but was put off by a friend, who told me they were unreliable.

    So instead I ended up paying £1300 for a 1980 Audi 80 GLS, with about 65,000 on the clock. It turned out that it offered respectable performance, combined with not great fuel econonomy: about 25 mpg, although my enthusiastic driving style may have contributed to that. My immediate impression upon driving it for the first time was that the upholstery was a lot less plush than in a British or Japanese car, and the suspension was a lot firmer. It was a combination that I soon learned to like. It provided good road holding and, allied with the lumbar support provided by the seats, it made the car a great mile-eater. (Or, given that the car was German, should that be a kilometre-eater?) In one marathon session, I drove 550 miles in a day – and got out at the end of my journey feeling fresh and relaxed. For the first time, I realised the Germans know how to build cars.

    Owning it wasn’t without its problems though, the main one being that it seemed rather prone to overheating. A friend of my mother also drove an Audi – a 100, I think – around the same time and she reported having the same issue, so perhaps it was a generic problem with them. More seriously, it also suffered a burnt-out inlet valve. Being young, foolish – and skint – I fixed it myself. Amazingly, there were no parts left over after I’d put everything back together. My mouth was dry when I turned the key, but it started first time and immediately settled down to a steady idle.

    I drove that car for four years before selling it and, despite the problems, have never regretted buying it. Indeed, a couple of years later, I bought another Audi, a GT Coupe. That was the only one of my cars I’ve ever given a name. I called it Jaws, because of its ability to swallow whole just about anything else on the roads.

    • One thing’s for sure: if your Audi suffered from overheating that something was seriously wrong with it. Maybe clogged water passages in the head from the wrong anti freeze or similar. If anything, German cars are meant to be driven hard over long distances on autobahns and the last thing you need there is overheating. There even is a German word “vollgasfest” (full throttle proof) and every German car is expected to meet this. One of the rare German cars to fail this test is the 928 S4 but regarding its speed that should not be too much of a probem.

  21. I do feel that we still suffer from utter pretentiousness of the BL knockers. It seems that a few posts have appreciated that Marina money would not by an Audi. My only experience of a VW (other than various Beetles which were just superb!!!) was a Polo ‘bread van’ – furnished with all the luxury of……a bread van. Reliable and competent, bland and boring and not a nice place to be. My 1.7 Marina had a decent interior, went like ….off a shovel, was relatively quiet, characterful and challenging to hustle quickly through the bends. An absolute joy then and I loved it. Not that I’m comparing the two as one was half the size of the other!

  22. @ The Wolseley Man, then the Audi 80 became bloated in 1986 and lesser engined versions were rather underpowered. By 1986, you did have quite a good choice of family cars beyond the usual suspects, from Austin, Ford and Vauxhall. The Volkswagen Passat did everything an Audi could do for less money and was avaliable with the Audi 5 cylinder engine. Then there was the British built Nissan Bluebird, that while a little bland, was ultra reliable and excellent value for money. From France, the Citroen BX was developing a following due to its amazing ride, a more conventional interior and diesel versions that were the best in class, while the Peugeot 305 from the same company still had a following due to its driving abilities, excellent build quality and comfort. Also the Honda Accord was worth a look due to its rock solid reliability, better than expected driving experience and long list of standard equipment.

  23. An interesting write-up and comparison. In April 1982 the Ital ranged in price from £4558 for the 1.3L to £6223 for the 2.0HLS Auto. By comparison, the Audi ranged in price from £6164 for the 80CL to £8737 for the 80CD Auto. So the most expensive Ital cost the virtually same as the cheapest 80.

    I can’t imagine many Ital owners would have aspired to an Audi 80. It was probably out of their league.

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