30 Days Of Audi Allroad: The Past, Present, And Future Of Quattro AWD Page 2

June 5, 2013
This 2013 A6 Allroad is Audi’s five millionth vehicle with quattro all-wheel drive

This 2013 A6 Allroad is Audi’s five millionth vehicle with quattro all-wheel drive

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With the second generation that was introduced in the late 1980s, Audi gave its system a Torsen center differential with a worm-gear transmission that could variably distribute torque. The system by default split torque 50/50 between the front and rear wheels but could send up to 75 percent to either the front or rear wheels. One common complaint with this system was that even though it brought a lot of all-weather confidence, it couldn’t quite send power to the rear wheels quickly enough when needed on a curvy road.

Not all quattro is the same

Today, some of the top performance models (RS5, RS6, RS7) have a separate ‘crown gear’ setup, while Audi models with transverse engines (the TT and A3) have a Haldex all-wheel drive system with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, and an electronic differential system for the front wheels.

Meanwhile, our Allroad, and all of the A4 family on which it’s based (and much of the Audi lineup, actually), with their longitudinal engines, have an innovative planetary-type center differential that helps speed up reaction time and provide that ‘seamless’ torque-split.

It’s also worth noting that at some points in its evolution, quattro has been related to Volkswagen’s all-wheel drive system, which has by the way evolved its badge from Syncro to 4Motion.

The future is...electrified?

As for the future? Look to some of the automaker’s edgiest ideas, such as the Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car and now-dormant R8 e-tron supercar project, for where it’s probably headed. Audi hasn’t shied away from noting that we’ll see some future version of quattro—perhaps the next one—go electric, with a powerful electric motor system taking the reins as sole propulsion for the rear wheels—and removing the efficiency-robbing mechanical link altogether.

Check back for a lot more, with our 30 Days With the 2013 Audi Allroad. And follow The Car Connection on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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