Audi quattro Explained: Three Different Systems

Now that the S1 has been launched, you can have quattro all-wheel drive in any size of Audi model. But are they all the same? Not really. This video explains the key differences between the three major groups of Audi all-wheel drive vehicles.
Audi Quattro explained 1 photo
First of all, there's the Hydraulic multi-plate clutch system. It's fitted to the smaller cars, most of which are built on the PQ35 platform and its successor, the MQB. The only oddball is the S1. It's available to the S1, A3, Q3 and TT and their derivatives. Most of the type, these cars are front-wheel drive, which saves a lot of fuel. However, when slip is detected, power is diverted to the rear.

Some people have suggested this isn't really permanent all-wheel drive and they do have a point. But the system is ideal for compact cars and similar to what Mercedes offers on its compacts fitted with 4Matic.

Next up is the real Audi technology: self-locking center differentials fitted to every car they've developed on the Space Frame architecture: from the A4 to the A8, Q5 to Q7. There's a set power distribution which is rear-biased, but if slip is detected that is diverted to the tire with the most grip.

Finally, there's a Audi R8, who's mid-engined layout allowed for a different setup: viscous coupling. Compared to the first category we mentioned, the German Gallardo works the other way around – sending power to the front after it's done spinning the rear.

While informative and entertaining, Audi's video is sure to anger some people. The Jensen FF went into production in 1966, 14 year before Audi claims it made all-wheel drive for production cars.

And what about Subaru? The FF-1 1300G had all-wheel drive way back in 1972.

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