The second generation Audi 80, known as the B2, was launched in late summer 1978 as a four-door sedan, while a two-door version followed in the early 1979. Audi 80 GLE with a fuel injection also joined the lineup in 1979. Giorgetto Giugiaro, working as an external consultant, scrutinized the strictly geometric design realized in Ingolstadt – and then made minor modifications to the design. The second generation Audi 80’s wheelbase was extended to 2,54 meters (8.33 ft) and the vehicle’s length to 4,28 meters (14.04 ft).
Audi had maintained the predecessor model’s mechanics in many regards while improving many of the details. The fuel tank was placed vertically in the crash-resistant zone behind the rear seats, more rigid doors improved impact protection and the chassis was reconfigured for greater comfort. The first diesel engine, a swirl-chamber naturally-aspirated unit, made its appearance in the Audi range in 1980. From a displacement of 1.6 liters, it developed 40 kW (54 hp). Turbocharging boosted performance to 51 kW (70 hp) in 1982. Fuel prices were high in the early 1980s. Audi therefore combined the 1.6-liter engine with two efficiency technologies in 1981: a start-stop system and a transmission with a high fifth-gear ratio. This “Formula E” package, which would later enhance other engines as well, reduced fuel consumption by as much as 22 percent. It was in the Audi lineup until 1984.
Another top-of-the-line Audi debuted in 1981. The Audi 80 CD was the first midsize model with a five-cylinder engine under the hood. Its 1.9-liter unit generated 85 kW (115 hp). The Audi 80 quattro was launched in 1982. It was the first volume-built sedan in the world with permanent all-wheel drive. It had the same drivetrain, rear axle with transverse links, MacPherson struts, and disc brakes as the so-called “Ur-quattro” before it. The naturally aspirated version of this 2.2-liter, five-cylinder engine generated 100 kW (136 hp). A new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine debuted that same year.
In 1984, Audi updated the B car line. A new addition was the exclusive Audi 90 version, which was distinguished by visual enhancements, more upmarket equipment, and five-cylinder engines. Three-way catalytic converters were introduced for some engines. The production of the second generation Audi 80 ended in 1986 after almost 1.4 million units were built.