How can Audi quattro help with Winter driving?
Ever since 1980, the word quattro – Italian for ‘four’ – has been closely associated with Audi and the four-wheel drive system that is available on many of the car maker’s unmistakable racing and performance production cars. So successful has it been that the quattro system is now available on many cars that appear on our roads every day, such as the Audi A4 2.0 TFSI.
In fact, quattro spelled with a lowercase ‘q’ refers to the all-wheel-drive system itself, whereas when spelled with a capital ‘Q’, Quattro is Audi’s popular 80s rally car that introduced the system.
The Quattro was propelled to instant fame and success simply because two-wheel drive was the norm in rallying competition at the time. Thanks to an improved grip provided by quattro, Audi was ahead of the competition by a mile and won two world rally championships during that period. Eventually, the Audi quattro system was introduced to production cars like the Audi TT RS, Audi RS3, and Audi R8 supercar.
With the quattro system, Audi reshaped The World Rally Championship. Its rally car greatly benefitted from better traction on all terrains, including mud and snow. The company then applied the same to everyday road vehicles, which also profited from the popular technology.
With winter driving conditions quickly approaching, the quattro system is something that would be handy to most of us as we tackle ice, snow, mud and anything else that the British weather throws at us!
What makes the quattro system so useful?
All-wheel drive has long been a virtual necessity for off-road travel. The original Jeep, alongside the Land Rover, were vehicles of choice for traversing hostile terrain. Essentially, when one wheel would get stuck, the remaining three would still be able to continue providing traction.
Horsepower available on a two-wheel drive vehicle has to be divided between just those two wheels. The power is split evenly between two wheels when moving in a straight line. With four-wheel drive, horsepower is equally split between four wheels, with each wheel only having to contend with a quarter of the horsepower. An even and much lower distribution of horsepower on all four wheels offers better handling, resulting in increased stability on the road, particularly in winter conditions.
Because of its size, placing, and weight, most all-wheel drive devices, called transfer boxes, are difficult to fit in small cars. It would be similar to a size 12 trying to squeeze into a size 6 pair of jeans; it’s just not going to happen!
So Audi came up with this clever solution. With two-output shaft rotating gears (called a centre differential), the company’s engineers created a system that could direct the torque of an engine to the front and the rear wheels simultaneously. The engineers designed the system to be smaller and lighter than the standard transfer box so that it could fit snugly in a car’s gearbox. During challenging winter driving, the power is constantly being adjusted to send power to the wheels that have the best grip on the road. Tadah! Torque Sensing, or ‘Torsen’.
Audi didn’t stop with Torsen. It also developed a device called Haldex that can be found in the more compact Audi A3 and Audi TT models. With this system, a majority of the torque is directed to the two front wheels in normal road conditions. When the device senses a wheel slipping, a second clutch kicks in, diverting a percentage or all of the torque to the rear wheels.
Despite its mechanical differences to the quattro system, few would notice the difference in practice excluding drivers who make a habit out of pushing their vehicle to its limit.
quattro in the R8
The Audi R8 is a special breed of Audi. It’s a mid-engine car with a 5.2-litre V10 situated behind the driver, but ahead of the back wheels. It’s the mid-engine layout that provides more even weight distribution, allowing more torque to be distributed to the rear wheels with less traction lost. 85% of the engine’s horsepower is directed to the rear wheels, leaving the rest for the front.
This presented some difficulties when it came to finding a place to situate the gearbox and differential. To solve this, in the Audi R8, the gearbox and differential are both mounted behind the rear wheels, with a second supporting drive shaft sending power to the front wheels as necessary.
Audi quattro with ultra technology
With many carmakers focusing on improved petrol mileage and lowering CO2 emissions, Audi developed what it calls quattro with ‘ultra’ technology. This technology is said to boost an Audi A4 3.0-litre’s fuel efficiency by around 4 miles for each gallon of diesel.
The way it works is that it allows the front wheels to propel the car exclusively for the majority of the ride. Once the need for all-wheel drive arises, power is then sent to the rear wheels by way of one clutch mounted to the gearbox and another clutch on the rear axle.
This achieves two things: it improves fuel economy; and it lessens the amount of wear and tear on both the engine and the gearbox. With this system, anyone tackling winter driving can expect their Audi to respond instantly to a change in road conditions and shift the engine’s torque between all wheels to maintain the vehicle on point, even on those cold, slippery and wet days we all love so much!
quattro in the future
Audi is still looking to improve quattro further, evidenced by its R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans Prototype. The R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans Prototype has a diesel engine and an electrical system. The traditional diesel combustion engine is used to drive the back wheels, whereas the electrical system powers the front wheels. The electrical system is charged through regenerative braking.
Just like the R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans Prototype, Audi’s A3 e-tron already uses a similar system and there’s no reason why this technology can’t be fitted into Audi’s extensive range of models in the future. The instant torque of an electric engine can be more easily and efficiently deployed than from a regular engine. Technology like this is paving the way for the next generation of Audis that quickly and efficiently react to the changing road conditions, keeping you safe on the road and giving you all the confidence you need for winter driving.
With our weather typically unpredictable, don’t delay, make sure that you’re suitably prepared for winter driving. To get a closer look at the latest Audi quattro models, take your pick from our Swansway Audi dealerships in Blackburn, Carlisle, Crewe, Preston, Stafford and Stoke.