Audi Enhance Their Quattro Technology
The legendary all-wheel drive system becomes mores efficient.
Go back forty years ago and the vehicles that existed with all-wheel drive were the heavy, large military off-roaders that were functional but about as dynamic as a sack of spuds. Audi were keen to adapt it to their cars and so in 1980 the petrolhead’s love affair began with the debut of the Ur-quattro, made famous more recently in the BBC drama ‘Life on Mars’ with Philip Glenister muttering the tag line ‘Fire up the quattro’.
In the 80s the quattro became so popular that Audi ended up having to extend the production run to keep up with demand. But one of the biggest revolutions ever seen in motorsport saw the quattro take to the stages to change rallying for ever with the legendary Hannu Mikkola taking the quattro to the first world championship won by a four-wheel drive car with every title since being 4WD.
Stig Blomqvist again in a quattro achieved the same a year later, but by then the technology was racing ahead with engineers transferring quattro to the race track with championship winning success in the German Touring Cars and also more recently at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning three on the trot with the R18 e-tron quattro and the associated featured hybrid technology.
With the quattro drive system featured across the Audi model lineup around seven million cars have been built with it since the early 80s with a more than strong 40% of customers going for quattro technology last year. So with the development of technology what have Audi done to further the appeal of quattro?
What has been noticeable about the permanent Audi all-wheel drive system in the past is the drag that it incurs; it is a given that they’ll be a loss of energy somewhere along in the system so engineers have come up with a solution. Developed over five years quattro now features their ultra technology. Simply put, in keeping with the driving dynamics it’s renowned for, it is also optimised for greater efficiency.
It works with the car being in normal front-wheel drive for normal running on a dry road with no stresses going through the car at all such as a simple trip to the post office on a dry day. However, if you are really leaning on the car through a series of twisty corners in the wet with a great deal of the weight being put on to the outside front wheel, the inside front is going to go light and therefore spin.
With electronic measurements and calculations being taken every 1/100th of a second the system then engages the rear wheels to immediately create a quattro and therefore all wheel drive to pull the car through the corner with maximum grip.
However, engineers have discovered as the most used scenarios for the full quattro system to kick in will be when pulling away on snow or ice rather than motorway driving for example.
Testing out the new technology near Innsbruck on a mixture of motorway, city driving and twisty, mountainous roads, which sadly was lacking the snowy conditions the engineers had hoped for, showed that drivers will likely use front-wheel drive most of the time, with it using all-wheel when road and dynamic driving conditions demand it.
It was a seamless transition and although all-wheel drive is deactivated when it’s not needed, drivers can be assured that it’s available all the time, which is how the fuel saving works. Audi have worked out that it uses around 0.3 litres per 62 miles less fuel than the outgoing quattro system.
With the technology available on Audi models with longitudinally mounted front engines, the first car to benefit from the quattro with ultra technology system will be the new A4 allroad quattro which comes out later this year.