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Eight million times Audi quattro. A constant legend.

ER Classics Desktop 2022

The 8 millionth Audi quattro has been rolled off the line in the new Audi factory in San José Chiapa, Mexico. The quattro four-wheel drive debuted in 1980 and is currently available as standard or optionally on more than one hundred model variants from Audi.

History and development

Audi regularly tested new models in Scandinavia in the 1970s. That was also the case in 1977. The accompanying car was a four-wheel drive prototype of the VW Iltis, the car that was destined to succeed the DKW Munga. When it turned out that the Iltis was simply moving through the winter conditions, the idea arose at Audi to breathe new life into the geuze title “Vorsprung durch Technik” and to develop four-wheel drive. Audi then worked on a four-wheel driven prototype based on the Audi 80, which was given the mean differential of the DKW Munga. A second prototype also followed. And the performance of both test models with four-wheel drive were so impressive that it was decided to make the quattro production principle ripe.

Debut in Ur-quattro

The quattro system was the first to find its way into the Ur-quattro. The first generation of the system already had a barrier function on differential technology. In 1983 an upgrade followed, whereby the middle and rear differential could be pneumatically locked. Three years later, Audi replaced that with the fully mechanical Torsen differential (which was able to distribute the driving forces across the axles). And in 2005 a system followed that worked with a planetary differential.

Also successful in motor sport

Audi has achieved great success in motorsport with its quattro technology. Among other things, the brand won the World Rally Championship four times and the famous Pikes Peak hill climb six times. The most recent triumph was Audi in November, when driver Mattias Ekström won the Rallycross World Championship with his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro. In fact, the arrival of the quattro system can be seen as an important marker in rally history. It became a new benchmark in terms of performance and technology.

quattro today

Audi supplies the quattro system in various variants. For example, for compact models with transverse engines, "Ingolstadt" mounts a hydraulic, electronically controlled multi-plate clutch on the rear axle. And on the Audi R8 with center engine, the clutch is on the front axle. It is part of an active system that, depending on the (driving) situation, distributes the driving forces between the axles. Audi models with a front-mounted engine have a blocking differential with a planetary gear system that normally distributes the driving forces in the 40: 60 ratio between the front and rear wheels. A number of top Audi models have a sport differential on the rear axle. And that actively distributes the driving forces over the rear wheels via two electro-hydraulically operated multi-plate clutches.

Latest development: quattro with ultra technology

New is the combination of quattro drive and ultra technology. The system is designed for models with a longitudinally placed engine and works with a slat clutch behind the gearbox that actively distributes the driving forces between the front and rear axles when four-wheel drive is desired. Under normal conditions, the rear axle disengages and only the front wheels are driven, which results in a considerable fuel saving.

High numbers due to technology

The first ideas came up in 1977. And to this day, Audi's Allradantrieb is being developed further. The system has become an indispensable concept within the automotive industry. It led to 8 million produced Audis with this unique system.

All images are from Audi AG




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