Never Known: 1986 Audi 80 Forward Design Study

We like to think of ourselves as registering on the expert band of the Audi marque and its history, so are always a little surprised to learn of cars we’d never laid eyes on before. Such is the case with the 1986 Audi 80 Forward, a design study recently revealed over on the Car Design Archives that publishes on Facebook.

Car Design Archives goes deep in the design community, meaning it unearths cars that aren’t exactly mainstream car show concept cars, but rather internal design studies that reveal where car brands’ heads were at as they sought to consider expansion of their lineups. In this case, the 80 Forward shows various ways Audi could have approached a long roof variant of its then-new B3 80 sedan.

In the photos Car Design Archives unearthed (and we’ve enlarged and removed file noise using AI filtration), we see two different approaches to the wagon idea. One is a traditional long roof wagon, though interestingly appearing to be closer to the B3 VW Passat than the later B4 80 Avant that would eventually get built and be utilized by Porsche for the RS2.

The second concept is more of what we might consider today as a “Sportback”. Back in period, the Volkswagen Group was building these sorts of cars. They were more often seen as body variants of the B1 and B2 Passat models, though definitely based on Audi’s B1 and B2 architecture rather than the B3 Passat’s transverse configuration. The only Avant that really got this 5-door hatchback feel was the C2 100 Avant. In this case, it certainly appears that Audi was shooting to utilize the sloped hatchback shape of the B3 Audi Coupe quattro with its integrated rear spoiler.

History tells us that Audi went a different route altogether. The Avant variant would eventually arrive in the B4 model years. It would take a shape closer to the traditional wagon above, yet receive an entirely different taillight design than the one seen in these design study photographs.

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