Audi: 40 years of Quattro
Audi: 40 years of Quattro
Quattro technology, the DNA of the Audi brand, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
It all started in the winter of 1976/1977. Working under a mandate for its parent company, Volkswagen, Audi developed the all-terrain Iltis for the German army. Noticing the vehicle’s impressive performance on snow and ice, the engineers, under the leadership of Ferdinand Piëch, decided to test the Iltis transmission in an Audi 80. Up until then, this type of transmission had been used on trucks and off-road vehicles only.
Satisfied with more than convincing test results from the prototype based on a standard limousine, Audi decided to develop a 4-wheel drive sports vehicle. The result was the Audi Quattro, the Ur-Quattro as the specialists call it. This all-wheel drive coupé uses a Torsen differential and is powered by a 2.2-liter longitudinally mounted five-cylinder turbo engine generating 200 hp. Presented at the GIMS in March 1980, the Audi Quattro made it possible, for the first time, to combine sporty and secure driving performance, even in difficult driving conditions.
Dazzling in the rally circuit
The Audi Quattro earned its reputation in rally racing starting in 1981. In various versions, including the infamous S1 (or Sport Quattro) with its shorter wheelbase for group B, Audi distinguished itself, both in the World Rally Championship specials and the prestigious Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1987 with renown drivers including Walter Röhrl and Michèle Mouton.
"Quattro Gmbh" - renamed Audi Sport in 2016 - became Audi’s high-performance subsidiary. In 1982, the Quattro all-wheel drive was rolled out across the Audi range and equipped the best performing versions of the 80/90 and 100/200 models. Certain models, such as the V8 which arrived in 1988, were only available with an all-wheel drive.
Since then, each model in the Audi range has its own Quattro version. The technology became more sophisticated over the years with the use, starting in 1999, of a Haldex differential, making it possible for transverse engine models - A3 and TT - to be equipped with an all-wheel drive. In 2016, Audi added the Quattro to its "Ultra" range. Ultra offers the most efficient models for consumption and CO2 emissions thanks to intelligent electronic management of the coupling & uncoupling of the rear axle, depending on driving conditions. Today, with the emergence of electric models, the Quattro is also available in an e-Quattro version.
Over its 40 year history, the proportion of vehicles manufactured with the Quattro transmission is estimated at between 25% and 30% of Audi’s total production for the period.