Audi has assembled its five millionth car fitted with its permanent all-wheel-drive system, marking 33 years of the famous 'quattro' technology.
After debuting in 1980 in the original 147kW quattro car – a car that remained in the model line-up until 1991 – quattro technology then formed a crucial part of the 225kW 1984 Audi Sport quattro and eventually the almighty Sport quattro S1. The system is now an option across Audi’s model range and standard in the Audi Q7, R8, A4 allroad, A6 allroad and all S and RS derivatives.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said quattro has been critical to the German company’s success.
“quattro is one of the key pillars of our brand."
“We are committed to our pioneering role and will continue to develop this advantage with new technologies.”
Audi says that 2012 marked a record year for quattro with more than 43 per cent of its customers selecting a model with the all-wheel-drive system.
With its origins tracing back to a group of Audi engineers, including Dr Ferdinand Piech, testing prototypes in the Swedish snow in the winter of 1976-77, quattro came about with the development of a hollow transmission shaft that was capable of flowing drive in two directions, allowing power to be sent to both the front and rear wheels.
In 1986, the system’s manual-locking centre differential was replaced by a torque-sensing Torsen differential before the advancement of a planetary drive arrived in 2005, offering the asymmetrical distribution of power.
Along with numerous rally appearances and victories with drivers like Sweden’s Stig Blomqvist and Finland’s Hannu Mikkola behind the wheel, Audi quattro cars have also tackled the infamous Pikes Peak US hillclimb in Colorado.
On July 11, 1987, a 440kW Audi Sport quattro S1 (pictured above) piloted by Walter Rohrl charged up the 156 curves to set an absolute record time of 10:47:85, nearly 22 seconds faster than the previous record.