Audi defies drag in a superslippery sedan

The all-new 1984 Audi 5000-S is a superb successor to the old 5000. With a drag coefficient of 0.33, the new front-drive, 5-passenger Audi 5000-S is by far the slipperiest sedan to come off an assembly line. No other sedan can touch it. The car's shape is so fine-tuned that wind resistance is cut to the bone.

What this means is better road mileage for the motorist.

Sticker price of the new car is $15,800, up $1,500 from the car it replaces.

To help it achieve its super-low drag rate, the curved window glass slides up and down on the outside of the window seal instead of riding in a channel. It's the first time this type of window design has ever been used in a production car , according to Audi, and the result is less noise inside the car as well. Flush glass is used all around.

The designers also got rid of the conventional rain gutters. Instead they went to grooves in the roof to carry off the rainwater, a neat trick. Air dams are employed beneath both the front and rear bumpers, and even the underbody of the car is streamlined.

It's a super job of ''greasing'' the car for its ride through the air.

The new 5000-S has the same wheelbase and weighs about the same as the car it succeeds, 105 inches and 2,700 pounds, respectively. Yet, it has more ''people space'' inside and a 17 percent larger trunk.

Admittedly not a barn burner on the road, the 2.1-liter, 5-cylinder engine still moves the car from 0 to 50 m.p.h. in about 8 seconds. The transmission is a 5-speed manual.

Looking ahead, Audi has a lot more ''new metal'' up its corporate sleeve over the next few months. Later this year it adds a turbocharged gasoline model to its 5000-S lineup, in addition to a 5-door hatchback, now sold in Europe as the Avant. The Avant is actually a cross between a hatchback and station wagon.

Within the next six months it will ship in a 4-wheel-drive model for the Audi 4000 - the so-called ''baby Quattro.'' The company also is considering a 4-wheel drive for the 5000.

(The $35,000 4-wheel-drive Audi Quattro is a high-performance, road-clinging offshoot of a West German Jeep-type military vehicle, the Iltis.)

Volkswagen of America's junior division is steering a wide berth around a turbodiesel for its new 5000-S because of a stack of unsold diesel-run old 5,000 s in the United States. Should the diesel market ever again pick up, then Volkswagen's Audi division could toss a turbodiesel into the new 5,000-S as well.

Audi expects to sell 50,000 cars in the US this year, half of them the new 5000-S.

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