It’s not because of a random stroke of luck that Audi sells more cars in China than in any other market worldwide, including Germany and the United States. While rivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW recently opened up shop in the world’s largest auto market, Audi made its first steps there in the 1980s when parent Volkswagen teamed up with First Automotive Works (FAW) and started assembling mk2 Passat-based Santanas.
The first Chinese-built Audi was the 100, and the 200 was added to the lineup in 1995. Generally ordered in black, the 200 remained popular in China among well-off businessmen and high-placed party members several years after it was phased out in Europe. These two elite groups still have a tendency to choose Audis over BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, but the car of choice today is the China-only, long-wheelbase A6 L.
The 200 was built by FAW-Volkswagen until 1999. A V6 was offered, but many examples were powered by a four-cylinder 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that was bolted to an automatic transmission that spun the front wheels only. The 200 was so popular that government-owned luxury automaker Hongqi bought the rights to the car and produced it for several years under the name Mingshi. The car was fitted with a more modern-looking front end but the overall shape did not change.
The well-preserved example pictured below is the first and only 200 that we’ve seen in China.