Today, the concepts of “Audi” and “quattro” are about as ubiquitous as smart phones and selfies, but just what makes the Audi brand’s all-wheel drive technology so innovative?
Power is nothing without control. And when it comes to keeping your car on the road under all conditions, optimally distributing power to the appropriate wheel is what gives the driver that much-craved control of the vehicle.
Enter Audi’s quattro (in Italian, simply meaning “four”) system, an innovation that first revolutionised the rally motorsport world as far back as 1980 – where grip on loose, gravel surfaces was a superior competitive advantage which saw Audi bag many motorsport victories year after year. It has since become a commonplace in automotive engineering all over the world where the all-wheel technology has filtered into road production cars. There's sophistication in its simplicity: by sending power to all four wheels instead of just the front or rear tyres, dynamic rewards can be achieved through increased traction and stability to the car.
So how does quattro or all-wheel benefit you?
All-wheel drive is safer. Think about it – if a car has four wheels but only two of those are driven, fifty per cent of the potential grip is not effectively used. So why not use the rest if it’s there for the taking? Under power and with limited grip available, a front-wheel drive car will understeer (the nose pushes wide under hard acceleration) while a rear-wheel drive car over steers (the rear tries to overtake the front) – both which can have disastrous consequences on the road. But in an all-wheel drive car, the power gets distributed evenly across all four wheels (hence the name). This means come snow, mud or heavy rain, your neutral-handling car will always point in the right direction, providing an all-important increased sense of safety, predictability and confidence. Put it this way: quattro gives you a better feel for the road and thus more safety.
All wheel-drive is faster. Why does a car spin its wheels under acceleration? Because of a lack of grip. Again, asking four wheels to do the work of two means that just the right amount of power is delivered at each corner. All-wheel drive also allows the driver to accelerate earlier and faster out of a corner. Cornering then becomes even more sporty and active but always perfectly under control. Today, the lightning sub-three second 0-100 km per hour times clocked by the fastest road cars is all down to the extra grip provided by all-wheel drive technology. Many hands – or wheels in this instance – make light work.
All wheel-drive is clever.
Proactive, imperceptible and smart. Audi’s quattro technology constantly monitors wheel slip and reassigns power to optimise grip. Sometimes operating full-time; at other times only part of the time; or on demand, but always ready to adapt to rapidly-changing road conditions.
… And gets smarter by the day. Technology is an ever-evolving organism: the various quattro systems that Audi offers today are light years ahead in sophistication over those introduced nearly forty years ago. Moreover, the implementation of quattro technology is unique to each application in a vehicle. Therefore, the all-wheel drive or quattro technology works differently in an Audi A4 sedan when compared to the duty it does in the Q7 SUV or R8 supercar.
Love all-wheel drive? Find out more about the Audi quattro range here.
This content sponsored by Audi and co-created with Brandstudio24 for Wheels24.