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Quattro means Audi

More than 40 years have passed since the first Audi quattro made its debut at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show. Since then, Audi factories around the world have produced more than 11 million vehicles with an all-wheel drive system. Quatto is synonymous with safety and perfect traction in all conditions, which is why it could not be missing from the Audi A6 cars available from PANEK Rent a Car.

40 years of quattro drive

The quattro drive has built an impressive base of success over 40 years. By the end of 2020, the Ingolstadt-based concern had produced over 11 million four-wheel drive cars, including over 800,000 in 2019 alone. Almost 45% of all Audi models built in 2019 were equipped with a quattro driveline, and most of them came from factories in Changchun, China, and San José Chiapa, Mexico. The European plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm produced 258,765 new cars in 2019, equipped with the famous all-wheel-drive technology.

How it works – the types of quattro drives

Audi’s quattro technology is versatile and precisely tailored to the specific model concept. A common feature of all types of structures is the way they cooperate with the selective distribution of driving torques between the wheels, which improves the driving properties at the limit of adhesion, gently braking the wheels at appropriate moments.

Two different technical solutions are used for models with a longitudinally mounted front engine, including the Audi A6, depending on the gearbox fitted to the model. The heart of the quattro permanent all-wheel drive, mated to the tiptronic automatic transmission, is a purely mechanical, self-locking, center differential. During normal driving, it transfers a little more torque to the rear axle, but can distribute up to 70% of the torque to the front axle or even 85% to the rear axle if necessary.

The quattro drive with ultra technology, fitted to models with the S tronic automatic transmission (Audi A6) or with a manual transmission, uses a dual-clutch system. This means that its control unit can transfer the drive power from the front axle to all four wheels if necessary in fractions of a second. When the system shifts to driving the front wheels, a front multi-plate clutch, mounted on the transmission output shaft, disengages the propeller shaft. At the same time, an integrated second clutch in the rear differential opens, eliminating the root cause of the loss of thrust in the rear of the driveline. Intelligent All-Wheel Drive Control works predictively to stay ahead of accidents with signals from a wide range of sensors and continuously analyze data on driving dynamics, road conditions and driver behavior. This means that the four-wheel drive system is always ready to take action when needed. Compared to the permanent drive, the quattro drive with ultra technology shows no differences in terms of traction and driving dynamics.

The compact Audi models with transverse-mounted engines feature a special quattro drivetrain, the heart of which is a hydraulic multi-plate clutch on the rear axle for better weight distribution. It is so dynamic that it can transfer some of the torque from the front axle to the rear axle as soon as the car starts to turn into a curve. The sports Audi R8 is also equipped with a multi-plate clutch. In this case the multi-plate clutch is located on the front axle. If required, it transfers the torque steplessly from the rear wheels to the front wheels.

40 years of quattro: milestones

In 1980, the Audi quattro was presented for the first time at the Geneva International Motor Show. The presentation of this groundbreaking model marked the introduction of a four-wheel drive in passenger cars that was light, compact, efficient and capable of driving on asphalt. Such a solution in a passenger car was an absolute novelty at that time, because until now all-wheel drive with differential locks was only used in off-road vehicles, and the words “SUV” and “Crossover” did not exist at all. From the outset, the revolutionary quattro concept was perfect for sports cars as well as series production cars. The original 200 hp Audi quattro remained in the German manufacturer’s model range until 1991, with several technical modifications along the way. In 1984, the exclusive Sport quattro variant with 306 hp was introduced to the offer. In 1986, the manually-locked center differential, which was fitted to the original quattro from the outset, was replaced by a Torsen differential that could smoothly distribute drive torques.

In the following years, the brand continued to refine quattro technology. The first Audi TDI model with permanent four-wheel drive appeared in 1995. In 1999, this technique was used in the A3 and TT model series, the compact segment. The next big step was taken in 2005, thanks to the center differential with asymmetric dynamic power distribution. In 2007, a viscous clutch appeared on the front axle of the Audi R8, and the following year a sport differential was introduced. The Quattro ultra made its debut in 2016 in the latest Audi A4 model of the B9 series.

Advantage Thanks to Technology

40 years after its debut, the quattro is an automotive icon. It made all-wheel drive cars go out of the way onto the asphalt, revolutionizing the concept of road safety. The Quattro has become synonymous with perfect traction in all weather conditions and sportiness. Audi, certain of its advantage over the competition, eagerly advertises its flagship product by organizing seemingly absurd efficiency tests. In 1986 rally driver Harald Demuth drove the Audi 100 CS quattro to the top of the ski jump at the Finnish resort of Kaipola. This feat was repeated 19 years later, this time with the Audi A6 4.2 V8 quattro, but the most impressive fact is that 11 doubles were made for the film! In 2019 race track champion Mattias Ekström from Sweden achieved a different feat by driving the Audi e-tron quattro, equipped with three electric motors, over the steepest section of the “Streif” ski track in Kitzbuchel, Austria, with a slope of up to 85% in some places!