Audi Quattro vs Nissan GT-R: old vs new all wheel drive face-off

Both these cars redefined all-road all-weather performance. But could a 1989 Audi possibly teach today’s GT-R any tricks?

It is possible, I wonder, to write this feature comparing the merits and similarities of the Audi Quattro 20V and it latter-day equivalent, the latest 2017 model year Nissan GT-R, without mentioning the phrase Vorsprung durch Technik? Oh well, there you go. Failed already.

Yet Audi’s much-parodied marketing mantra epitomises what this particular comparison is all about. Created in the early 1970s, then dropped quietly a few years later before being resurrected so memorably in the ’80s to advertise the then-brand-new Quattro among other four-wheel-drive Audis, it is the very meaning of Vorsprung durch Technik – progress through technology – that so obviously links Quattro 20V to GT-R.

Both represent cutting-edge technical genius on the part of their respective manufacturers, albeit expressed in a somewhat different way and separated by nearly three decades. Both cars, ultimately, are led by technology. And both cars, in their own way, pretty much obliterated any sort of competition when they were first introduced.

But there are aspects of the GT-R that you do wonder about, have always wondered about, and driving the Quattro 20V beside it brings those aspects more sharply into focus than ever before. They are, very simply, its size, its weight and its frankly ridiculous packaging.

Spending a day with the Quattro has made me wonder more than ever if the GT-R really needs to be as big and heavy as it is, given how much space inside it categorically doesn’t have. And the answer is no, it absolutely does not need to be this huge, or this heavy.
Audi Quattro and Nissan GT-R
So, even 30 years later, the Quattro is still serving up lessons to the rest of the car world, and I suspect it’s one of those rare cars that we will continue to learn from as time goes by – including the magicians who design and build the modern-day legend that is the Nissan GT-R. It’s always good to remember: just occasionally less is more, even in a car that is led by technology.
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Categories: EVO


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