Image: Supplied/Audi South Africa

More than 30 years ago, Audi’s chief chassis engineer had a brainwave that would forever change the way the brand built cars: instead of front- or rear-wheel drive to power the vehicle, he decided to deliver power to all wheels. Since then, quattro (or all-wheel drive) technology has been a cornerstone of the brand. 

The quattro system stemmed from the famous 1981 World Rally Championship victory by the Audi Quattro – the car that redefined the brand. Where other competitors used two-wheel drive, Audi’s new technology helped it win the race.

Audi clinches the 1982 Rally World Championship for Manufacturers.
Audi clinches the 1982 Rally World Championship for Manufacturers.
Image: Supplied/Audi South Africa

Ever since, Audi has not only continued with quattro technology in motorsport – bagging many victories, including in touring car racing (DTM), prototype (Le Mans 24 hours), customer racing (GT3 in Nürburgring) and hybrid car racing (Formula E) – but also filtered the technology into road production cars to provide superior grip and traction.

The technology is fitted in the high-performance R8 and RS models that form part of the Audi Sport range of cars that are born on the track but built for the road. They represent the sporty vanguard of Audi, combining superlative performance with exclusiveness and prestige.

Why use only two wheels when a car has four?

Audi is a pioneer of four-wheel drive in high-quality cars. Its cutting-edge quattro technology offers dynamism and safety while delivering a unique level of driving pleasure. An Audi with quattro drive moves ahead safely and smoothly, even in conditions where two-wheel-drive vehicles lose traction – for instance, on slippery or unpaved roads.

If the wheels of one axle lose grip and threaten to spin, the drive torque is redirected to the other axle – automatically and continuously distributed through the centre differential. The basic distribution is 40:60, with 40% of the power going to the front axle and 60% to the rear. The advantage: more grip when accelerating and greater safety thanks to the exceptional road holding.

But what really makes quattro unique is the driving experience. “It’s like you’re stuck to the road,” some customers say. Audi puts it this way: quattro gives you a better feel for the road and thus improves safety.

The way the engine power is distributed to each wheel is optimised not just by identifying the grip achieved by each axle, but also by registering individual steering and accelerator movements. Cornering becomes even more sporty and active, but the drivers always remains in control.

Quattro and Audi Sport

The RS and R8 cars in the Sport range form Audi’s dynamic spearhead. RS (or RennSport) models exist only where they present the perfect enhancement to a model range. Each has a distinct character.

RS always stands for:

  • the most powerful engine variant in a model range;
  • extreme dynamics;
  • refined understatement with full everyday usability; and
  • quattro permanent all-wheel drive.

- This article was paid for by Audi.

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