Audi Celebrates 40 Years Under Five-Cylinder Power

Engines typically come with an even number of cylinders, but somebody apparently forgot to tell that to the engineers at Audi forty years ago. It’s been that long since the German automaker introduced its first five-cylinder engine, and four decades later, it’s still making them.

The company’s first five-pot launched in the 1976 Audi 100, positioned above its existing four-cylinder engine but more compact in form than the larger six. It displaced 2.1 liters and produces just 136 horsepower.

Over the past forty years, Audi has introduced fuel injection, four-valve heads, turbochargers and even diesel variants to its five-cylinder engine range. It’s won rallies, hillclimbs and circuit races on the Nürburgring along the way. And by now it produces as much as 400 horsepower in the latest TT RS – nearly three times as much as the original.

If that’s not enough to convince you that the five-cylinder design is a winning one for Audi, consider that the powerplant has won the International Engine of the Year award in its class seven times now, dominating every year since 2010.

To mark the anniversary, the Audi Forum in Neckersulm has opened a display showcasing its five-cylinder engine over the years. But if your travel plans won’t be taking you to Germany between now and November 6 (when the exhibit it closes), you can still take a drive through history in the gallery below.