quattro hits the big four-oh and powers into the electric era
1980 welcomed a breakthrough that would transform the future of motoring. No, we don’t mean the launch of parking coupons in Singapore’s public carparks that year – thrilling as that might have been for some. The real history-making moment 40 years ago was Audi introducing the original quattro, the ground-breaking four-wheel drive system that quickly became the cornerstone of the brand.
Why was quattro so significant? In simple terms, it introduced a means of transmitting power that was entirely new for the passenger car sector – an all-wheel drive system that was lightweight, compact and efficient. This made the quattro concept particularly suited to sporty cars and high-volume production right from the outset.
It didn’t take long for quattro to become an icon, a name synonymous with safe driving and sportiness, technical expertise and competitive superiority – in short, Vorsprung durch Technik. The success of the Audi Quattro rally car further enhanced its reputation, with legendary drivers Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist blazing a trail with victories in the World Rally Championship in the early 1980s.
quattro continued to be refined and enhanced, building its reputation over four decades. Since making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, Audi has produced around 10.5 million cars with all-wheel drive, including over 800,000 – almost 45 per cent of all Audi models – in 2019 alone.
Today, quattro technology is standard in all high-performance Audi cars. Yet the innovation hasn’t stopped, with the next chapter in quattro’s success story planned for Audi’s all-electric future. In the Audi e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback, the latest generation quattro system will be accompanied by electric torque vectoring. Based on a brand new drive concept with three electric motors, this involves distributing power between the wheels in mere milliseconds. It can also engage extremely high torque, allowing the car to be driven as energetically into curves as a sports car.
Audi is the first manufacturer in the premium segment to mass-produce the technology using three electric motors. Forty years on from its debut, it’s yet another sign of quattro’s ability to set bold new benchmarks for innovation as we move into an era of sustainable mobility.
Learn more about the cutting-edge world of quattro below.