NEW DELHI: Audi’s iconic Quattro all-wheel powertrain on Monday celebrated its 40th anniversary. Quattro not only turned the tables for Audi but revolutionized the auto industry like no one ever imagined. The Quattro tech has powered almost 10.5 million Audis till date.
We take a closer look at the evolution of Audi’s biggest success story, Quattro, and how it continues to contribute to the automaker’s development as a brand and woo the motorheads too.
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Idea behind Quattro
It was the winter of 1976 when Audi developed the Volkswagen Iltis, an off-road military vehicle, and it sported the first-ever all-wheel-drive to perform exceptionally on both snow and ice. Post the testing of the prototypes, Audi was ready with the idea to introduce the all-wheel-drive tech to mass-produced vehicles.
VW Iltis (left) and the 1980 Audi Quattro
The first Audi coupe to get the all-wheel-drive powertrain was almost named Carat (abbreviation for Coupe All-wheel-drive Turbo) but later on, then director of pre-development, Walter Treser, suggested the name ‘Audi Quattro’ and the rest is history. In 1980, the world was introduced to Ur-quattro, the first-ever Quattro, at the Geneva Motor Show. The coupe phased out in 1991 but the technology stayed.
1980 Audi Quattro at Geneva Motor Show
How does Quattro function?
The Quattro technology automatically divides the drive torque equally to all four wheels, resulting in perfect road grip and much safer drives, even in bad conditions.
Audi A4’s Quattro Ultra drivetrain
Audi adapts the Quattro tech to respective vehicle type. The two main variants include the cars with Tiptronic AMT which uses the classic Quattro drive with self-locking center differential and the cars with a manual or S-Tronic gearbox that offer Quattro on-demand. The Audi R8 uses its own Quattro drivetrain with hydraulic multi-plate clutch.
Audi RS V10 Coupe performance Quattro
Quattro, a motorsporting legend
In 1981, Audi Quattro made its debut in an Austrian rally and conquered the difficult snowy and muddy terrain with ease. Until 1987, the Audi Sport Quattro conquered many tracks to win a few WRC titles and also won the Le Mans 24-hour thrice. The focus later shifted to touring car racing and the Audi 90 Quattro won the DTM and TransAm series.
Audi Quattro’s debut in WRC in 1981
Quattro lives through e-tron
Audi has shifted its focus to the e-tron, the electric all-wheel drive powertrain that is way ahead of the curve. The intelligent technology functions with electric motors on each axle and offers enhanced control and driving safety, taking the driving dynamics to a new level. Whatever e-tron is now, it was only possible due to the foundation laid by its aging predecessor.
Audi e-tron S