Quattro AWD - what makes it different from other AWD systems

Learn about Quattro AWD

 Quattro AWD

Audi is a vehicle lineup with an established credibility - whether you choose to focus on the superior design decisions and style guides or you would prefer to praise their technological advancements - there will always be a good reason to be impressed by what the Audi team brings to their drivers.

Now, let's get specific for a bit and focus on the quattro AWD system present on the Audi models - when you hear the word quattro it is very nearly impossible not to usher to mind images of these vehicles rushing down streets or, as many will, picture them rallying against the competition on and off-road. These aren't just attractive vehicles - they are dominating forces across the automotive industry.

The key components that separate the quattro from the rest of the AWD systems requires a surprisingly simple explanation. First, we start at the intention and goal that preceded the development process - specifically, the engineers were aiming to construct a sports car with all-wheel drive that could function without a traditional transfer box - a design that would result in heavier vehicles and make for difficult driving in higher-speed conditions. Inside an engine the differential is the part that enables the engine's torque to be distributed to each wheel if they are turning at different velocities. In relatively normal conditions the differential would be mounted on each of the vehicle's driven axle - and this is where the quattro's design changes - rather than having one on each of the driven axles the quattro's differential is mounted directly within the gearbox and connects both axles, detecting slips or movement irregularities and matching with a variable split of torque to react to nearly any road condition. This enables a split in torque ratio of 50:50 to the front and rear and improved stability.

 Quattro AWD

Not only is the quattro system more effective, it's also much lighter than differentials on other vehicles. The beauty of what Audi's built can be summarized when looking at models like the R8 where the engine is situated behind the driver - sitting at the back it sends torque through a Torsen differential with the system offering as much as a 15:85 split which, as you probably guessed - makes this one powerful, speedy car.

Now we come to transverse engine Audis - which use a slightly different quattro system where the engine is mounted sideways and utilizes a Haldex four-wheel drive system. The difference here comes down to the Haldex and the fact that it can clutch if it detects a slip in the front axle, diverting as much as 100 percent of the torque to the rear.

 Quattro AWD

Introduced in the 1980s in a period that came a little after the 'torque cars' - the four wheel drive quattro system, in its concept form, has existed since the Second World War - following the 1980 release and praise, Audi has since improved on the system - first with a 1987 addition that replaced the manually-locking centre differential with a torque sensing module - Torsen - and has continued to be updated reaching its current sixth generation in 2010. This replaced the Torsen Type "C" with a new Audi-developed featured called the "Crown Gear" differential - this allows up to 70 percent of the torque to be applied to the front wheels with up to 85 percent being available to the rear wheels when and if necessary. It has since been adopted on the A7, A6, and A8 models.