Audi 100 LS, Mercedes 230, NSU Ro 80: revolution and career


Audi 100 LS, Mercedes 230, NSU Ro 80: revolution and career

Three dynamic children of a stormy 1968, rushing to the top.

They mercilessly cut ties with their guild milieu - a six-cylinder star instead of a village diesel, an avant-garde limousine instead of a dwarf Prinz, a sporty comfort class instead of another descendant in the two-stroke family. Revolutions, as you know, begin right on the street.

He was a rebel, a real child of 68, a symbol of civil disobedience. His simple, elegant figure, well proportioned and straightforward Italian lightness, captivated the technocrat from the north. “Nice car, very nice car,” said the large, otherwise tough man, almost in a trance, slowly walking around the 1: 1 plasticine model hidden behind the curtain.

Audi 100: unwanted child

Prior to this, VW CEO Heinrich Nordhof had intended to complete the production of a small Audi model series (60 - Super 90) with so-called medium-pressure engines, in order to transform Ingolstadt-based Auto Union, acquired in 1965 by Daimler-Benz, into a conventional turtle farm. To maximize the capacity of the crisis-stricken plant, 300 Volkswagen cars rolled off the conveyors every day.

In connection with these plans, Nordhof banned the chief designer of Audi Ludwig Kraus and his team from any activities for the development of the new model. This proved unbearable for Kraus's creative nature, and he continued to work in secret. After all, he was the man who, with the help of brilliant improvisation, created a car from the DKW F 102, still good for its time, the first Audi with a four-cylinder engine. The engine was brought in as "carry-on" by his former employer Daimler-Benz - a heavy 1,7-liter plump woman codenamed Mexico, which, due to its high compression ratio of 11,2: 1, was considered something of a cross - half gasoline. , semi-diesel.

For Kraus, who designed the Silver Arrows years ago Mercedes, car design has been a real passion. With fervent supplication, he convinced Nordhof and the head of Audi Leading of the prospect of an attractive new small-series car that would occupy the market niche between Opel-Ford and BMW-Mercedes: “It will be sporty, yet comfortable, elegant and spacious. With more perfection in detail and more meticulous workmanship from Opel or Ford. There are three power levels and equipment from 80 to 100 hp. We might even think of a coupe, ”the technology-driven engineer dreamed.

Audi 100 - "Mercedes for deputy chiefs"

When the new big car finally celebrated its premiere at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, a handful of critics mockingly claimed it was a Mercedes. The harsh moniker "Mercedes for Deputy Chiefs" quickly spread. Ludwig Krauss never denied that he belonged to the Stuttgart school. In 1963, he joined Auto Union after 26 years at Daimler-Benz and was already carrying in his blood both the formal aesthetics of the three-pointed star cars and the typical Mercedes design concern for every detail. Today, the first Audi 100 has long come out of the W 114/115 series, commonly known as the Linear Eight (/ 8). The Delft blue 100 LS, which is included in our comparison, proudly demonstrates its technical independence. The two-door version, introduced in autumn 1969, underlines the impressive elegance of its lines.

The now dark green Mercedes 230 is parked peacefully next to the Ingolstadt model. It looks more massive, but it also offers more solidity than the carefree modern style of Audi, which is also significantly more aerodynamic. For the Audi 100, the manufacturer indicates the flow coefficient Cx 0,38; with the significantly more extreme NSU Ro 80 this value is not much better (0,36).

Audi's face is friendly, almost smiling. Despite the fact that it ostentatiously wears four rings in the middle of the radiator grille, the car does not pay as much tribute to tradition as the Mercedes model, which looks cool and serious from all angles. Deep in his soul, somewhere in the bowels of his meek six-cylinder engine with four main bearings, he is also a revolutionary and representative of a "new objectivity" in design and architecture. It was in the year of extra-parliamentary street performances in 1968 that this style finally prevailed in Mercedes, replacing the luxurious baroque splendor of finned limousines that frightened many of its regulars.

Revolutionary technical solutions - “the benchmark in the upper segment of the middle class”.

Technically, however, the Audi 100 LS is emancipated from Mercedes as much as possible. Front-wheel drive is as traditional for Auto Union as is the ingeniously simple torsion bar suspension on the rear axle. Combined with modern coaxially coupled springs and shock absorbers (such as MacPherson strut) at the front, Kraus and his team have created a chassis that combines the comfort of long suspension travel with good roadholding.

Later, in a modified version of 1974, the rear suspension with coaxial springs and shock absorbers will give the car even sporty qualities. According to the auto motor und sport comparative test carried out in the same year, the model is “the benchmark for road safety in the upper middle segment”.

Even the original Audi 100 medium pressure engine doesn't look like itself anymore. In a 1973 Delft blue LS, it works evenly, and a deep, pleasantly folded melody comes from the muffler. With the successive reduction of the compression ratio to 10,2 and 9,7: 1, the rough uncultivated noise disappeared.

However, due to the intense swirling of the working mixture in the cylinder head with cross-flow, the engine remains economical according to the design principle and develops powerful thrust for intermediate acceleration from 2000 rpm. The Volkswagen-developed three-speed automatic transmission maintains the natural temperament and high-revving drive of the four-cylinder engine with overhead valves and lower camshaft. With a clearer gas supply, it switches up with a pleasant delay.

"Line-Eight" - a soft provocateur with a new chassis

It is difficult for the heavy and clumsy 230.6 Automatic to follow the light and maneuverable Audi 100. Its massive six, which sounds quite tense in the "Pagoda" (230 SL), remains restrained here and quietly whispers to typical Mercedes intonations. No sporting features - despite the overhead camshaft.

The liter power of the six-cylinder engine is quite modest, so it has a long life. The engine pairs well with a large, heavy vehicle that rides smoothly and smoothly and even on a short stroll around town gives the driver the feeling that he has been on the road for a long time. Every trip becomes a journey. This is the strength of this extraordinarily richly equipped 230, which, in addition to an automatic sunroof and an electric sunroof, has front windows, tinted windows and power steering. Not only the abundance, but also the quality of performance is impressive. True, the Audi interior radiates more warmth and coziness, but the thin wood veneer looks as transitory as the innocent bamboo color of the seats with good contour and velveteen upholstery.

In fact, the W 114 is also a provocateur, albeit in a milder form. In terms of style and chassis technique, this is the epitome of a new era - goodbye to the swinging rear axle and the decisive introduction of four-disc brakes. Thanks to this, Daimler-Benz is no longer lagging behind in terms of road dynamics, but is approaching the BMW standard for a tilt-strut rear axle, where wheel alignment and inclination are always exemplary.

Easily controlled cornering behavior, close to the tractive effort limit, without a sharp tendency to feed, and stable direction of travel under heavy braking at high speeds make the "Linear Eight" better than even the then S-Class. None of the compared 1968 models stand on the road so calmly, with a heavy and dense spring. The two front-wheel drive vehicles are more nervous, but more agile.

Ro 80 - the machine of the future

This is especially true for the banana yellow NSU Ro 80, which is superior in handling control with its complex chassis, which consists of a MacPherson strut front suspension and tilted rear axle. Crucial here is the childlike lightness, agility and speed of cornering, motivated by the ZF direct-action steering system with rack and pinion. The brakes are also a poem. With its technical ambitions, the Ro 80 recalls Porsche 911. Is it a coincidence that both cars are wearing Fuchs alloy wheels? And that yellow and orange go well with both?

But with all due respect, dear friends of the Wankel motor, we must admit the truth, even if it hurts you. After all, it is not the revolutionary rotary engine but the functional-aesthetic shape and the sophisticated chassis with good road feel that makes the NSU Ro 80 feel so confident even today. You can only love an engine with strength, especially if you've driven a BMW 2500 before. The high-pitched gurgling sound is somewhat reminiscent of a three-cylinder two-stroke unit. We can be comforted by the fact that without the compact engine, the extreme forms of that time would never have been created.

The three-speed, semi-automatic and semi-automatic transmission ensures a smooth driving experience at all times. However, it is not at all suitable for those who are keen on high revs, and as weak as torque, the Wankel engine, which becomes nimble only with five gears.

The Ro 80 doesn't like traffic in a big city. Slow acceleration of a large car, for which 115 hp also plays a role here. cannot be called sufficient. His kingdom is the highway, which rushes calmly and without vibrations when the speedometer reads 160. Here, the fragile and incompatible with the transmission, Wankel suddenly becomes his beloved friend.

Three different characters make friends

The wide track and long wheelbase help the Ro 80 stay well on the road. Thanks to its streamlined shape, the car is content with 12 liters per 100 km, and the engine marked KKM 612 sings a song about a wonderful new world and surprisingly complex simplicity of the Wankel. Its eccentric rotor rotates on a trochoid and, as if magically, constantly changes the space in the chamber, resulting in a four-stroke workflow. There are no up and down jolts that need to be converted to rotary motion.

The interior of the NSU Ro 80 is characterized by cool, almost ascetic functionality. It matches the avant-garde character of the car, although a little more luxury would be desirable. The black upholstery comes from the Audi 100 GL and continues to look solid and pleasant to the touch in the new environment. But the Ro 80 is not one of those emotional cars to cuddle in - it is taken too seriously. A decent Mercedes 230 would not be suitable for this purpose either.

Closest to the heart is the friendly Audi 100. Without this car - born in anguish, eternally underestimated and with an undeniable gift - today, Audi would not exist at all. Perhaps as the name of a luxury Volkswagen model.


Audi 100 LS (model F 104), manuf. 1973 g.

ENGINE Model M ZZ, water-cooled four-cylinder in-line engine, cross-flow aluminum cylinder head, gray cast iron block, crankshaft with five main bearings, one-way camshaft (driven by duplex chain), offset valves, lifter and rocker actuators , pistons with concave forehead, (Chiron principle) displacement 1760 cc (bore x stroke 3 x 81,5 mm), 84,4 hp at 5500 rpm, max. 153 Nm torque @ 3200 rpm, 9,7: 1 compression ratio, one Solex 32/35 TDID two-stage vertical flow carburetor, ignition coil, 4 L engine oil.

POWER TRANSMISSION. Front-wheel drive with engine in front of the front axle and gearbox behind it, four-speed manual gearbox (Porsche sync), optional three-speed automatic gearbox with torque converter (manufactured by VW).

BODY AND LIFT Self-supporting all-metal body, front axle with coaxially connected springs and shock absorbers (MacPherson strut) and two triangular struts, stabilizer, rear rigid tubular axle, longitudinal struts, torsion spring and torsion bar steering rack with toothed rack, front disc, rear drum brakes, discs 4,5 J x 14, tires 165 SR 14.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT Length 4625 mm, width 1729 mm, height 1421 mm, front / rear track 1420/1425 mm, wheelbase 2675 mm, net weight 1100 kg, tank 58 l.

DYNAMIC CHARACTERISTICS AND COST Max. speed 170 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 12,5 seconds, fuel consumption (gasoline 95) 11,8 l / 100 km.

PRODUCTION DATE AND TYPES Audi 100, (model 104 (C1) from 1968 to 1976, 827 474 examples, of which 30 687 coupes.

Mercedes-Benz 230 (W 114), proizv. 1970

ENGINE Model M 180, water-cooled in-line six-cylinder engine, light alloy cylinder head, gray cast iron block, crankshaft with four main bearings, one overhead camshaft (driven by duplex chain), parallel suspension valves, driven rocker arms volume 2292 cm3 (bore x stroke 86,5 x 78,5 mm), 120 hp at 5400 rpm, maximum torque 182 Nm at 3600 rpm, compression ratio 9: 1, two Zenith 35/40 INAT two-stage vertical flow carburettors, ignition coil, 5,5 l engine oil.

POWER GEAR Rear-wheel drive, 4-speed manual transmission, optional 5-speed transmission, or 4-speed automatic transmission with hydraulic clutch.

BODY AND LIFT Self-supporting all-metal body, frame and bottom profiles welded to the body, front axle with double wishbones and coil springs, additional rubber elastic elements, stabilizer, rear diagonal swing axle, inclined springs elastic elements, stabilizer, steering with ball screw transmission, additional power steering, four-wheel disc brakes, 5,5J x 14 wheels, 175 SR 14 tires.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT Length 4680 mm, width 1770 mm, height 1440 mm, front / rear track 1448/1440 mm, wheelbase 2750 mm, net weight 1405 kg, tank 65 l.

DYNAMIC CHARACTERISTICS AND COST Max. speed 175 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 13,2 seconds, fuel consumption (gasoline 95) 14 l / 100 km.

PRODUCTION AND HANDLING TIME Model range W 114/115, from 200 D to 280 E, 1967–1976, 1 copies, of which 840 and 753/230 - 230 copies.

NSU Ro 80, manuf. 1975 year

MOTOR Model NSU / Wankel KKM 612, Wankel twin-rotor engine with water cooling and peripheral suction, four-stroke duty cycle, gray cast iron body, trochoidal chamber with elisilized coating, ferrotic sealing plates, 2 x 497 cm3 chambers, 115 liters. from. at 5500 rpm, maximum torque 158 Nm at 4000 rpm, forced circulation lubrication system, engine oil 6,8 liters, change volume 3,6 liters, metering pump for additional lubrication with operating losses. Solex 35 DDIC vertical flow two-chamber carburetor with automatic start-up, high-voltage thyristor ignition, one spark plug on each housing, exhaust gas cleaning with an air pump and combustion chamber, exhaust system with one pipe.

POWER TRANSMISSION Front-wheel drive, selective automatic transmission - mechanical three-speed transmission, single-plate dry clutch with automatic drive and torque converter.

BODY AND LIFT Self-supporting all-steel body, front axle with coaxially connected springs and shock absorbers (MacPherson strut type), transverse struts, stabilizer, tilting rear axle, coil springs, additional rubber elastic strut and steering wheel, two hydraulic braking system with four disc brakes , brake force regulator, wheels 5J x 14, tires 175 hp fourteen.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT Length 4780 mm, width 1760 mm, height 1410 mm, front / rear track 1480/1434 mm, wheelbase 2860 mm, net weight 1270 kg, tank 83 l.

DYNAMIC CHARACTERISTICS AND COST Max. speed 180 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 14 seconds, fuel consumption (gasoline 92) 16 l / 100 km.

THE TIME OF PRODUCTION AND TIRCULATION NSU Ro 80 - from 1967 to 1977, a total of 37 398 copies.



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