The 3.6L (3562cc) powerplant was essentially two four-cylinder engines which had been mated at the crankshaft to form a V8. In this case it was the acclaimed Volkswagen Golf GTI's 1.8L, twin cam, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder that provided the inputs. Power output was very respectable for the day, with 250PS (184kW/247hp) and 340N·m (251ft·lbf) of torque available over a fairly wide powerband. The top speed was 250 km/h and 0-100 took 7.6 secs with the automatic.
Audi introduced a long wheelbase version in 1990 and in 1992 a 4.2L (4172cc) powerplant with 280PS (206kW/276hp) and 400N·m (295ft·lbf) was introduced. Like the 3.6L model, quattro four-wheel drive came as standard. A six-speed manual gearbox replaced the 5-speed manual of the 3.6 model. The top speed was 250 km/h and 0-100 now took only 7.2 with the automatic and 6.7 with the manual transmission.
The V8 was never a huge sales success despite the obvious qualities of the car. The Audi V8 came out at about the same time as the Lexus LS400, and in many respects, the V8 was a superior product both to the Lexus, and competitors such as the S-class Mercedes, the 7-series BMW, and the Jaguar XJ-series. However, despite being a technological marvel as the only car in its class to offer four-wheel drive and a galvanised body, with its clean but understated design, most consumers thought the car resembled the lesser Audi models too much to warrant the price. The V8 came standard with a full set of usually optional features as standard; including Bose audio system with 8 speakers, walnut wood trim, leather interior, front and rear heated the seats, and a built in car phone. The only options available were pearlescent or metallic paint. Some available colors included pearl white, lago blue (teal), blue mica, and black, amongst others.
If nothing else, the place of the V8 in the history of Audi was to make life easier for the successor, the Audi A8 in that customers were now viewing Audi as a proper manufacturer of prestigious luxury cars providing a credible alternative to the established competitors. Today, the V8 has a cult following in many countries, and many examples are in the hands of enthusiasts who appreciate the quality and performance offered by what has turned out to be a durable well-built car.