The ‘original quattro’ of 1980 did not remain alone for long. Starting in 1982, Audi introduced five further all-wheel-drive variants to its production programme: the Audi Coupé, the Audi 80/90 and the Audi 100/200. The last-mentioned model, the aerodynamic world champion of the 1980s, was like its predecessor also available as an Avant. Conceived as a front-wheel-drive car as was customary at Audi, all these models could be easily converted to permanent all-wheel drive without undue effort and expense. They reflected the manufacturer’s fundamental policy decision to offer a quattro variant in every model line. In the light of Audi’s motor-sport successes it is not surprising that they all sold extremely well.
A new leading model in the quattro range appeared in 1988: the V8, with an initial output of 185 kW (250 bhp), later also available with a 206 kW (280 bhp) engine. This car was only sold with permanent all-wheel drive, and at first only automatic transmission was available, so that two differential locks were fitted – an electronically controlled, hydraulically operated multi-disc lock in the inter-axle differential and a self-locking Torsen differential in the rear axle. When the successor to this model, the A8, was introduced in 1994, Audi offered front-wheel drive as an alternative, and this option is still available for the current A8 model generation, though only 7 % of the car’s purchasers take it up.
From 1990 on, the S models with quattro driveline did much to enhance the dynamic image gained by Audi as a result of its motor-sport successes. The leading contender in this respect was the S 2 Coupé, the designated inheritor of the mantle of the original quattro. Its cultured character proved that sportiness and refinement could be harmonised in an ideal way – an approach that was continued a year later with the S4 based on the Audi 100 model line.
Audi’s first RS model also impressed its fans. The RS2 Avant amazed the trade with its performance. This five-cylinder turbo model entered the market in 1994 and was built for a good year. Its engine delivered 262 kW (315 bhp). 2,881 customers opted for this sports car, which was based on the Audi 80 Avant. The RS2 has long since become a sought-after classic with a loyal fan club.
In 2000, Audi pursued this approach a stage further with the ultimate RS 4 and RS 6 models. Their powerful V8 engines put these two cars in the high-performance sports car category, but with luxurious equipment and trim and of course the no-compromise high quality typical of the Audi brand. In addition, the TDI diesel engines, with their vigorous pulling power, have been offered more and more frequently in conjunction with the quattro driveline – again a most harmonious combination.
The most successful Audi models in terms of sales volume are the A4 and the A6, and this is also true of their quattro variants. If the preceding model versions are included, 37,572 Audi A4 cars with permanent all-wheel drive had been built by the end of 2004. The figure for the Audi A6 is 601,204, the proportion with the quattro driveline having risen recently to 42 % in the case of the saloon.
Since 1999 the compact A3, the TT Coupé and the TT Roadster have also been available with the quattro driveline option. Since they have a transverse engine, these models use an electronically controlled Haldex clutch as a centre differential instead of the Torsen unit. 58 % of all the TT Coupés and 42 % of all the TT Roadsters sold in 2004 were fitted with permanent all-wheel drive.
The allroad quattro enjoys a special status: with its variable ground clearance thanks to air suspension, this Avant has established itself as a dynamic all-rounder which is equally at home on the motorway as it is in highly challenging terrain. Around 90,000 of this model have been built to date.
From 1980 until the end of 2004, Audi had built 1,815,396 cars with permanent all-wheel drive. If this is related to a total production – excluding the A 2 model line – of 12,030,207 units, the all-wheel-drive variants account for 15.1 % during the period.
In recent years, the proportion of quattro-equipped cars was regularly higher than one quarter of the total, and indeed reached 26.7 % in 2004. Audi is the leading international manufacturer of passenger cars with permanent all-wheel drive in the premium segment of the market. The current model programme lists 74 model variants with the quattro driveline.