quattro technology: The success storyBack to overview
With permanent quattro all-wheel drive Audi set a milestone in automotive history – no other manufacturer had a fast-running, lightweight all-wheel drive for large-scale production in its lineup in 1980. By the same token, Audi has always consistently used motorsport to test and further develop new technologies for use in production vehicles.
By the beginning of 2017, more than eight million cars with quattro drive have rolled off the assembly lines around the globe, and the writing of this success story is intended to go on, not least due to the brand’s factory involvement with EKS. The fielding of quattro drive in rallycross marks the logical continuation of the original use of quattro all-wheel drive. Although all cars in the Supercar class have four-wheel drive, quattro technology proved unbeatable in 2016, resulting in the two world championship titles won by Mattias Ekström and EKS.
quattro technology debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980 in the so-called Ur-quattro (original quattro). In 1986, Audi replaced the first-generation manual center differential lock by a Torsen differential that was able to variably distribute torque, followed in 2005 by a planetary gear with asymmetrically dynamic torque distribution. Audi has continually been pursuing the further development of the self-locking center differentials. They are regarded as the benchmark in terms of traction and driving dynamics, combined with very low weight, ever since.
Currently, quattro technology is available in more than 100 Audi model variants. On the Audi Q7, the Audi A4 allroad quattro*, the Audi A6 allroad quattro*, the Audi A8, the Audi R8 and on all S and RS models, the all-wheel drive system is. In 2016, 44 percent of all Audi customers around the globe opted for a quattro model.
Tailored to each model, Audi offers all-wheel drive in various versions. The compact model ranges with transverse engines use a hydraulically operated and electronically controlled multi-plate clutch installed on the rear axle. In the mid-engine R8 sports car, the multi-plate clutch sits on the front axle. These active systems variably distribute torque to both axles, depending on the driving situation.
With quattro technology Audi celebrated numerous triumphs in motorsport as well. Not counting the era before the Second World War including the legendary Auto Union Grand Prix race cars in 1930s, the motorsport history of AUDI AG began with the Audi quattro. The dominant victories and two manufacturers’ and two drivers’ titles achieved with the “Ur-quattro” in the World Rally Championship between 1982 and 1984 were an important factor in the market success of quattro drive.
After Audi had turned rally racing upside down and stormed up Pikes Peak (USA) in record time on three consecutive occasions with the Sport quattro, the brand from Ingolstadt made quattro drive presentable in circuit racing as well. To demonstrate its capabilities and to strengthen its market position in the United States at the same time, the Audi 200 quattro was put on the grid of the TransAm series in which it celebrated the title win in 1988. Seven races in total were won by the car’s successor, the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO, as well. With the Audi V8 quattro two titles in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) followed in 1990 and 1991, plus eleven national titles with the A4 in production-based supertouring car racing – with seven of them clinched in 1996 alone. They were followed 20 years later by the two titles for Ekström and EKS in the World RX.
* Fuel consumption and emissions of the models named above:
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic (185 kW):
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7,1–6,8 **
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 162–154 **
Audi A4 allroad quattro:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6.7–4.9 **
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 154–127 **
Audi A6 allroad quattro:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6.5–5.6 **
Combined CO2 emissions g/km: 172–149 **
**Depending on the tire/wheel set used.