Audi has officially taken the wraps off its all new A1 small car at the Geneva Motor Show.
While we have already covered the crux of the details (see here), being able to see the car in person and sit inside takes it beyond photographs and marketing hype.
When Audi describes the car as sporty and fun, they're certainly on the mark. The cute looking A1 will appeal to buyers of this size of vehicle who like brand name.
Rear leg room is surprisingly good for such a small car, along with boot room. Audi will enter Australia with the A1 shortly after they launch the car to the international market later this year.
The A1 e-tron also shows that Audi is serious about fuel economy and a green image. We'll keep you posted with more details on the local version as they come to hand.
The next big Audi –
The Audi A1
The A1 is a true Audi – it is both the premium option and the sportiest automobile in the small compacts class. It comes with powerful, highly efficient engines and an agile chassis, and delights with an emotional design and excellent fit and finish. The A1 has a broad portfolio of advanced technologies on board; its infotainment system, in particular, sets new standards in the class.
As the newcomer in the compact segment, the A1 appeals primarily to young, lifestyle-oriented customers, offering them a high degree of freedom for individual design. Audi’s latest will hit the streets this summer with a base price of around 16,000 euros.
It has a confident road stance – powerful, distinctive and full of character: The A1 is both the premium option and the athlete in its class. The pronounced encompassing shoulder line, the color-contrasted roof arch and the unusually sharply sloping C-pillars give the three-door an unmistakable silhouette. The dimensions also document the dynamic lines: 3.95 meters (12.96 feet) long, the latest model from Audi is an impressive 1.74 meters (5.71 feet) wide but only 1.42 meters (4.66 feet) tall. The wheelbase measures 2.47 meters (8.10 feet); the overhangs are correspondingly short.
The design of the A1 is tightly integrated into the brand's design language and unique in the compact segment – emotional, bold and progressive. Audi has a reputation for taking a lot of ideas and innovations from its concept cars into series production, and the A1 continues this tradition. Many of the features and innovative ideas from the 2007 A1 project quattro showcar have already made it to series production in the A1.
The front end bears an unmistakable family resemblance, but features unique accents and innovations in the details. The single-frame grille, for example, is harmoniously integrated into the front end and with its angled top corners represents a new evolutionary stage. Its braces are arranged horizontally to emphasize the width of the front. The large, plastically modeled air intakes with their horizontal bars also contribute to the sporty appearance of the A1. The fog lights are located in their outer corners.
The three-dimensionally styled headlights also have their own special look. The A1 looks determined and concentrated to the road. A strongly curved wing structures the interior of the headlights. As with every Audi, the daytime running lights are standard. With the optional xenon plus units, the daytime running lights are implemented using LEDs and a light guide. They appear as a homogenous strip that traces the wing.
Powerful design element: the tornado line
The most striking impression when viewed from the side is the straight, slightly upward course of the lines, which visually stretch and accelerate the A1. The upper edge of the hood extends below the side windows to the rear end. As with the Audi TT sports car, the point where the encompassing hood meets the fenders is the point of origin for a typical Audi design element – the tornado line. It continues in the door and the rear flank. The line runs closely and precisely above the wheel wells, giving the A1 a powerful road stance.
The heavy shaded edge beneath the tornado line, the powerfully arched sheet metal surfaces on the flanks and the rising dynamic line above the sills are also characteristic of the brand’s design language. The same is true of the expressively shaped wheel wells, which provide shelter to wheels measuring up to 18 inches, and for the ratio of sheet metal surfaces to the greenhouse, which is two-thirds to one-third. The side mirrors are mounted on the doors like with a sports car; the door handles are distinctly bow-shaped.
Another Audi feature is the sportily flowing roof arch, which is optionally available in one of four contrasting colors. The arch flows into a C-pillar that is flatter than on a coupe, giving the rear end a dynamic outline that is further emphasized by the roof spoiler.
When viewed from the rear, an encompassing luggage compartment hatch emphasizes the width – an exclusive feature new to the compact class. The hatch is distinctively shaped. The wedge-shaped single-piece tail lights also underline wideness and are plastically integrated into the design. In combination with xenon plus, the tail lights use LED technology. Because they cannot be seen when the luggage compartment hatch is open, the Audi A1 has additional LED lamps in its side flanks. This solution is another example of the loving attention to detail and enthusiasm for technology of the Audi engineers.
The tail lights have a sporty red frame, with a curved bar dividing their chambers. Audi optionally equips them with light-emitting diodes and light guides – the tail light then appears as a continuous strip. A sporty black diffuser in the skirt forms the bottom of the rear end and visually places the vehicle firmly on the road. Depending on the engine, the exhaust system ends in one or two tailpipes on the left side.
Audi offers the A1 in ten exterior colors. The solid finishes are Amalfi White, Cumulus Blue and Brilliant Black; the metallic colors are Ice Silver, Phantom Black, Teak Brown, Shiraz Red, Scuba Blue, Misano Red and Sphere Blue.
An Audi truism also applies to the A1: The body establishes the foundation for the quality, for the precise, sporty handling and for safety. Two-thirds of the body comprises high- and ultra high-strength steels of different strength classes.
The strongest of these are the hot-shaped steels. The blanks are heated in a furnace to extreme temperatures then immediately shaped in a water-cooled pressing die. This rapid change in temperature imparts them with extreme tensile strength. Hot-shaped steels make up a good 11 percent of the body.
They are used for the lower crossmember in the footwell, in the rear sections of the longitudinal members, in the B-pillars and in the roof frame – anywhere extreme strength combined with low weight is particularly important.
The high- and ultra high-strength steels are a significant factor for the high torsional rigidity of the body and its low weight of only 221 kilograms (487.22 lb). These two values and the dimensions are used to compute the high lightweight quality of the superstructure while also providing the basis for a high level of occupant protection.
The A1 comes standard with two front airbags, side airbags in the backrests of the front seats and two curtain head airbags. Belt tensioners and belt force limiters plus the Audi integral headrest system round out the package of retention systems. Isofix child seat anchor points in the rear are standard. Belt buckle sensors at all seats are another increased safety feature. And when it comes to pedestrian protection, the A1 is also equipped with cutting edge technology.
Low-speed collisions – light bumps in parking lots and the so-called typical claim crash so important for the insurance rating – do not result in any major damage. The layout of the bumpers, the crossmember behind them and the longitudinal members protect cost-intensive components such as the radiator and air conditioners.
Aerodynamically optimized: from the front skirt to the rear spoiler
With 0.32 coefficient of drag for the base model, the newest Audi is among the most aerodynamic cars in its class. This is the result of extensive fine-tuning at the Ingolstadt Wind Tunnel Center. The entire body has been optimized – from the rear spoiler, including the spoiler edges, to the underbody and the wheels. The aerodynamic underbody largely covers the underbody, protecting it and creating favorable aerodynamic air flow.
The corners and other edge regions of the skirts feature a sophisticated design that not only sinks the coefficient of drag, but also improves driving stability at high speeds. The area around the grille is completely sealed so that the inflowing air reaches the radiator with virtually no losses instead of becoming turbulent.
Even such subtleties as the flow of air through the engine compartment have been optimized to the finest detail with respect to thermo- and aerodynamics.
Another of the body’s strengths is its acoustics. The Audi development engineers devoted considerable attention to the sound radiation of the large sheet metal panels and their rigidities. All regions at which forces are induced during driving were specially reinforced. A lightweight insulation package brings the acoustics in the passenger cabin up to the premium level.
The A1 will be built at the Audi plant in Brussels. Audi invested more than 100 million euros in the modernization of the production facility in order to completely satisfy the most stringent of quality standards.
Sportiness, precision and youthful freshness – these themes characterize the interior of the A1. The designers looked to airplane wings for inspiration for the elegantly curving instrument panel. The four round, far-protruding air nozzles are reminiscent of the turbines of a jet.
The center console, with its integrated strip of secondary switches, resembles the stern of a yacht and appears to float above the center tunnel. The control unit for the climate control system and the three cylindrical rotary dials of the optional automatic climate control system are another optical and haptic highlight on board the A1. The instrument panel is also home to the head unit for the radio or the optional MMI control and infotainment system. The display, which is standard with the concert radio or higher, is retracted into the instrument panel and extends upward at the push of a button. This installation position, ideal for quick reading, is a unique selling point in this vehicle class.
The instrument cluster in chronographic design with the large round dials – black faces, red needles, and white scales and numbers – is laid out clearly and elegantly. As always with Audi, operation via the steering column stalks is logical and ergonomically perfect. At night the instruments are lit in white, the buttons red.
With the LED interior lighting package, the A1 brings 100 percent LED technology to an interior in the premium compact class for the first time. Not only is the ambient lighting in the doors and roof module realized with LED technology, so, too, are the interior lights, reading lights, footwell lights and makeup lights.
Another design highlight was created with the help of LED light guide technology. If desired, a white corona shines indirectly from the contours of the Bose woofer bezel to visually underscore the high-tech character of the sound system.
The optional driver information system integrates a display between the instruments. As in the large Audi models, the system can be controlled using buttons, rocker switches and roller switches in the optional multifunction steering wheel.
The system bundles information from the audio sources and the optional navigation system. A modern tabs concept in the display and a freely-programmable favorites button make operation easy and intuitive. The driver information system is monochrome and comes standard with MMI navigation plus.
Helpful: the on-board computer with efficiency program
The on-board computer with efficiency program is linked to the driver information system. It displays data relevant to fuel consumption and gives recommendations for efficient driving. An enlarged view of the gear-change indicator signals to the driver when he or she should change gears. Another function provides information on which on-board consumers, such as the climate control system or the rear window defogger, are active and how much fuel they are consuming.
The seats in the A1 offer great hold, guidance and support and seat persons of all sizes extremely comfortably. A height-adjustable driver’s seat is standard. The Ambition trim line includes sport seats with lumbar support, and the passenger seat also comes height-adjustable as standard. The easy-entry function for comfortable access to the back is also standard with the Ambition package.
Plenty of storage is available at every seat – two cup holders on the console of the center tunnel, pockets in the doors and the rear side trim as well as a power outlet. On the base model, there is a fold-up compartment on the instrument panel instead of the on-board monitor. Audi also offers an optional storage package with additional stowage options.
The premium character of the Audi A1 is expressed in every last detail of the interior – in the selection of the materials, in their fit and finish and in the tight, even gaps. The surface of the instrument panel is softly backed with foam; all buttons and controls move precisely; even the pull handle that unlatches the hood release does so crisply and precisely.
Standard with the Ambition trim line and optional with Attraction are numerous aluminum-look control elements, including the entry strips, the dials for the automatic climate control system and the light dials. Furthermore, the ring of the three-spoke sport steering wheel, the parking brake handle and the gear shift lever are wrapped in leather and adorned with subtle aluminum clips.
Youthful and new: colors and materials
The materials in the interior vary between the two lines. Attraction features black or titanium gray cloth upholstery with the center console, armrest, map pocket and speaker grills also being titanium gray. The sport seats in the Ambition line have a two-color design featuring titanium gray or wasabi green as a contrasting color to black. The interior is also available in black. The media style package offers velvet beige as an alternative. The optional leather seats available with the Ambition line and the media style package are offered in a choice of three colors and three combinations.
Everything about colors and trim is novel, youthful and lifestyle-oriented. The air nozzle housings are available in a wide range of colors – with matt or high-gloss black standard depending on the trim line. They are also optionally available in high-gloss white, titanium gray, wasabi green, red or velvet beige to match the color of the trim. Audi also offers a range of attractive colors for the door armrests and the console on the center tunnel for all trim lines.
The luggage compartment of the Audi A1 has plane walls; the loading edge is low for easy loading and unloading. It has a base volume of 267 liters (9.43 cubic feet). A double cargo floor is standard.
The split rear seat can be folded down quickly and easily to increase luggage capacity to roughly 920 liters (32.49 cubic feet) if loaded to the roof. Two small latches secure the cargo floor when it is folded up. Audi also offers an optional luggage compartment package with practical storage boxes under the cargo floor, a multi-fixing point with folding hooks, a stretch net, a power outlet, a second light and a strap retainer.
Audi does not compromise quality in the luggage compartment, either. The latch unlocks electronically, including via the remote key fob. It swings up and falls securely into the latch. Its clasp has a separate spring-loaded cover that keeps it from getting dirty – another typical Audi detail.
The A1 is a premium automobile for modern people – it offers a range of state-of-the-art infotainment and multimedia systems directly from the luxury class.
The infotainment system comprises modular components based around the standard chorus radio, which has an mp3-capable CD drive and GALA speed-dependent volume control. The chorus radio delivers its sound to four loudspeakers.
The next step up features the new concert radio, a versatile device that is likewise equipped with a CD drive. The separate, retractable on-board monitor – a high-resolution, 6.5 inch color display – is standard with this radio. It also features a dual tuner, an SDHC memory card reader, an AUX-in connection and six loudspeakers front and rear.
The concert radio also unlocks the choice of the optional connectivity package, which includes a navigation system preparation. This allows the customer to add an Audi map-based navigation unit to the radio at a later time.
The required hardware is already installed in the radio. The customer can purchase the system activation and an SDHC card with the navigation data through Audi Genuine Accessories at any time. Activation is performed by the Audi dealer. The connectivity package also includes a Bluetooth interface, an SDHC card reader and the Audi music interface.
The top of the line is MMI navigation plus, a high-end media center that is a benchmark in the compact vehicle class. It comprises four primary components – the main unit with a 60 gigabyte hard drive, the radio unit, the MMI control terminal and the color display. The retractable 6.5 inch display features elegant images. It displays its graphics as well as the cover art for the audio titles. The navigation map is also displayed in 3D.
MMI navigation plus can store 20 gigabytes of music files. It offers a Bluetooth interface and the Audi music interface (AMI) to connect modern mobile media players very easily and conveniently. It includes a drive for audio and video DVDs and intelligent voice control – the driver can speak the complete navigation address at once. The driver information system is also integrated into the package.
Classic Audi logic: the MMI control terminal
With its intuitive logic, the MMI control terminal is structured similarly to the units from the large Audi models. A large rotary pushbutton is at the center of the unit. It can be rocked in four directions like a joystick, which makes many functions even more convenient. A variety of hard and soft keys, a volume control, and slots for the storage media are arranged around and above the central controller.
Audi offers a range of additional modules for the MMI navigation plus and the concert radio – a Bluetooth interface for convenient telephony and transferring music and video, a CD changer, a digital radio (DAB) tuner and two premium sound systems: the 180 watt Audi sound system with ten speakers and the Bose surround sound system. The latter includes a ten-channel, 465 watt amplifier and 14 speakers, including a subwoofer.
The combination of MMI navigation plus and the Bose surround sound system enables the reproduction of 5.1 surround sound. A special optical highlight: The woofers in the doors are indirectly lit with light guide LEDs.
(performance data are provisional figures)
Audi will initially offer the A1 with four engines. The two TFSI gasoline engines and the two TDI diesels cover a power range from 63 kW (86 hp) to 90 kW (122 hp). Each of them is state-of-the-art.
All of the engines employ direct fuel injection and turbocharging. This downsizing concept coupled with technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform give them tremendous power with minimal fuel consumption ranging from 3.8 to 5.4 liters per 100 km (43.56 – 61.90 US mpg).
The entry-level gasoline engine is the new 1.2 TFSI. It generates 63 kW (86 hp) and produces its peak torque of 160 Nm (118.01 lb-ft) already between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm. Coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, the four-cylinder accelerates the A1 from 0 to 100 km/h (0 – 62.14 mph) in 12.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 179 km/h (111.23 mph). In the EU driving cycle, it consumes only 5.1 liters of fuel per 100 km (46.12 US mpg), which corresponds to only 119 grams of CO2/km (191.51 g/mile).
Downsizing from Audi: turbocharging instead of displacement
The newly developed four-cylinder exemplifies the Audi philosophy of downsizing, the substitution of turbocharging for volume. The engine with two-valves per cylinder displaces only 1,197 cc and has been rigorously optimized for low weight and low friction. Its cast aluminum crankcase has its own cooling loop separate from the cylinder head. The water in the block is not circulated immediately after the engine is started, enabling the engine to come up to temperature more quickly and shortening the phase of increase frictional resistance due to cold oil.
The 1.4 TFSI ups the ante with 90 kW (122 hp). Its peak torque of 200 Nm (147.51 lb-ft) is continuously available between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm. A turbocharger with a water-cooled intercooler pressurizes the 1,390 cc engine with four valves per cylinder.
Together with the seven-speed S tronic, the 1.4 TFSI gets the A1 up to highway speed in 9.1 seconds. Top speed is 200 km/h (124.27 mph). The standard six-speed manual transmission bumps the time for the sprint to 9.2 seconds, but does not affect top speed. Average fuel consumption is just 5.1 and 5.4 liters/ 100 km (43.56 and 46.12 US mpg), respectively, in the EU test cycle.
The power output of the new 1.6 TDI comes from a displacement of 1,598 cc. Internal friction in the compact four-cylinder has been systematically minimized. Audi offers two versions of this engine. The more powerful 1.6 TDI unit produces 77 kW (105 hp) and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm, and is coupled with a five-speed manual transmission. The 16-valve engine accelerates the A1 powerfully through the standard sprint in 10.8 seconds before reaching a top speed of 187 km/h (116.20 mph) while consuming an average of just 3.9 liters/100 km (60.31 US mpg).
The second version of the 1.6 TDI generates 66 kW (90 hp) and 230 Nm (169.64 lb-ft) of torque between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. Coupled with the five-speed manual transmission, it accelerates the A1 from 0 to 100 km/h (0 – 62.14 mph) in 12.2 seconds. Its reaches a top speed of 179 km/h (111.23 mph) and offers exemplary fuel economy of 3.8 liters/100 km (61.90 US mpg), which corresponds to 99 grams of CO2/km (159.33 g/mile).
All four engines in the A1 use a technology from the Audi modular efficiency platform – the recuperation system uses an intelligent voltage controller for the generator to recover energy during the braking and coasting phases and store it temporarily in the battery. The next time the car accelerates, this energy flows back into the on-board electrical system, relieving the load on the generator.
The four engines also come standard with a second technology from the Audi modular efficiency platform – the start-stop system. This turns the engine off when the car is at rest, if the gear selector lever is in neutral and the driver’s foot has left the clutch pedal. Start-stop then turns the engine back on as soon as the clutch pedal is depressed — all the while functioning quietly, conveniently, and quickly.
The start-stop system also harmonizes perfectly with the seven-speed S tronic, the high-tech transmission with which the A1 underscores its exceptionally sporty position. The Audi dual-clutch transmission combines the convenience of a torque converter transmission with the dynamics and efficiency of a manual transmission. It changes gears within a few hundredths of a second without any perceptible interruption of pulling power, smoothly and very comfortably.
Weighing only around 70 kilograms (154.32 lb), the seven-speed S tronic also helps to save weight. Its two clutches run dry – the elimination of the oil supply further increases the already high efficiency of the transmission. Power is supplied to the electrohydraulic actuator as needed.
The driver can operate the seven-speed S tronic via a selector lever or optional paddles on the steering wheel, as in a sports car. There are also two fully automatic operating modes available. In D mode, the transmission management system operates the engine as often as possible at low speeds to save fuel; in
S mode, the driving style is sporty and the engine speeds higher. A hill start assist that holds the A1 when starting on a hill is standard.
The front-wheel-drive Audi A1 is the sportiest car in the compact class. It is nimble and agile in the city; steady and precise on interurban roads, and comfortable on the highway. It owes these qualities primarily to the highly advanced chassis with the wide track and balanced weight distribution.
The engineers devoted a great deal of attention to the distribution of axle loads during the development of the A1. Measuring only 81 centimeters (31.89 inches), the front overhang is unusually short. Depending on the engine, only between 61 and 63 percent of the weight rests on the front axle, a low value for a compact car. A number of details contribute to this, such as the position of the battery, which with most engine options is underneath the luggage compartment. With a base weight of only 1,045 kilograms (2,303.83 lb), the A1 is the lightest vehicle in the premium compact class.
The front suspension comprises a MacPherson construction with lower triangular wishbones. The steering impulse from the electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering, which is more efficient than a straight hydraulic system, is transferred via short paths to the pivot bearing for spontaneous steering response and precise, sensitive feedback through the steering wheel.
Direct: the power steering
At a ratio of 14.8:1, the steering is sportily direct, requiring only slight steering angles at the wheel. The high turn-in of the front wheels keeps the turning circle to 10.6 meters (34.78 feet) – both factors give the A1 the ultimate in agility in city traffic as well as on open roads.
Audi painstakingly tuned the front axle bearings, the stabilizer bar and the springs and dampers for sporty and balanced handling. A torsion-beam rear axle with separate springs and dampers features new guide bearings that were developed from the ground up. The Ambition trim line comes standard with a sport suspension featuring taut springs and dampers.
The A1 comes equipped with a new Audi technology regardless of the engine selected – the ESP stabilization system also includes an electronic differential lock. Similar to a mechanical locking differential, it makes the already agile handling even more neutral by largely eliminating understeer and improving traction. If the electronics detect that the load on the front inside wheel is reduced too much, it initiates brief, controlled braking of that wheel.
The excess torque then flows to the outside wheel, which can apply more power to the road. Road behavior is even more precise, agile, stable and neutral, further enhancing objective safety and subjective confidence in the car.
With its sport modus, the ESP A1 is custom-tailored for agile driving. The stabilization system controls large, powerful wheel brakes. The front discs are internally ventilated and measure between 256 and 288 millimeters (10.08 and 11.34 inches) in diameter, depending on the engine. The rear wheels are equipped with powerful disc brakes. The Attraction trim line features 15-inch wheels; Ambition comes with 16-inch alloy wheels.
Audi offers optional 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, with some designs featuring modern bicolor designs, and wide-format 215/40 tires. quattro GmbH offers 18-inch cast aluminum wheels and wide-format 225/35 tires.
High performance: the wheel brakes
The sporty performance, top-class safety and comfort required in the premium compact class place high demands on the brakes. The brake system of the Audi A1 was selected specifically for the performance of the different variants.
Even the models with the entry level engines should therefore have plenty of braking power in reserve. Every vehicle comes equipped with ventilated disc brakes up front and massive brake discs in the rear.
Sport steering wheel
In keeping with the vehicle’s sporty character, the A1 comes standard with a grippy three-spoke sport steering wheel that can be optionally wrapped in fine Nappa leather and trimmed with high-quality chrome-design elements.
A particular highlight is the new operating concept of the optional multifunction switch, which enables the convenient operation of the on-board computer, telephone, audio source and navigation system directly from the steering wheel.
Shift paddles that enable fast manual gear changes are optionally available in combination with an S tronic transmission.
Equipment and trim
Audi offers the A1 in two trim levels. Attraction is the richly appointed charismatic version; Ambition the sporty and dynamic variant.Both lines can be combined with the media style package, which offers attractive infotainment and interior design options. Features such as the navigation package can also be purchased later, keeping the A1 fresh and attractive for years to come. The latest member of the Audi family also follows a fresh, young line with respect to materials and colors in the interior.
The Attraction line comes equipped with a number of comfortable features – the chorus radio, a radio remote-controlled central locking system, power-adjustable side mirrors, power windows and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Standard passive safety features include two front airbags, side airbags and head airbags. Belt force limiters, the integral Audi headrest system and Isofix anchor points for child safety seats in the rear round out the program.
The Ambition trim line can be identified at a glance – giving it away are the 16-inch alloy wheels and the fog lights. The interior of the A1 Ambition features aluminum-look touches, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and the driver information system. Its sport seats feature an easy-entry function and lumbar supports, and the passenger seat is also height-adjustable.
Optionally available for the Ambition trim line is the S line sport package, which includes, but is not limited to, the following: 17- or 18-inch cast aluminum wheels, S line sport suspension with dynamic suspension tuning, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and sport seats.
Much of the optional equipment that Audi has designated for the A1 comes directly from the luxury class. These include exterior options such as the xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, the LED tail lights and the optional 17-inch wheels with 215/40 tires. quattro GmbH offers 18-inch cast aluminum wheels.
Audi has also devoted a great deal of attention to the aspect of light and vision. The high-beam assistant uses a camera to detect other vehicles and towns and automatically switch between the low and high beams. It is combined with a light and rain sensor, which is also available separately. The panorama sunroof brings light and air into the interior. The convenience key can stay in the jacket pocket – the A1 unlocks when the driver pulls the door handles and starts at the push of the start-stop button.
Additional options include the alarm system, the LED interior lighting package, the heated and folding side mirrors, the cruise control system, the ski bag, the front center arm rest, the storage and luggage compartment package, the heated front seats, the climate control system, the automatic climate control system and a multifunction, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Audi also offers a parking aid in two variants and a wide array of infotainment modules from which to choose. It starts with the concert radio and extends through the retrofit-capable navigation package to the high-performance MMI navigation plus system and the Bose surround sound system with innovative light guide technology.
The S line exterior package gives the A1 an even more dynamic appearance thanks to such details as chiseled sill tops and a large roof spoiler.
The A1 offers the young, urban public a new lifestyle-oriented concept for colors and materials. If so desired, components such as the seat covers, the air nozzle housings and the inlays in the doors shine in fresh, expressive colors. In addition to the individual options, quattro GmbH also offers numerous packages, such as the S line sport package, the Audi exclusive line or the black styling package. The Audi exclusive customization program offers the customer even more styling options – for both the interior and the exterior.
The Audi RS 5 – Power and Elegance
Unbridled power lurking in a classically elegant coupé: the Audi RS 5 will debut at the Geneva Auto Show. The high-revving 4.2-liter V8 with its 331 kW (450 hp) unleashes powerful performance while achieving remarkable fuel economy. The seven-speed S tronic and an innovative center differential in the quattro drivetrain transmit power to all four wheels.
Developed by quattro GmbH, the RS models comprise the dynamic spearhead of Audi‘s model range. The RS 5 is the latest torchbearer in a tradition dating back over 15 years to the RS 2 Avant: superior handling in the mid-size class.
A close relative of the V10 which powers the high-performance R8 sports car, the high-revving V8 engine delivers its output from a displacement of 4,163 cm3. Like nearly every Audi gasoline engine, this one also operates via direct fuel injection known by the abbreviation FSI. This same technology has propelled the Audi R8 racing car to four triumphs at the classic endurance race in Le Mans. The common-rail system generates up to 120 bars of pressure.
Intensive fine-tuning of the dual-branch intake and exhaust system allows the undersquare engine to breathe freely; four adjustable camshafts and tumble flaps in the intake manifold facilitate mixture formation. The 4.2 FSI provides imposing torque and is right at home even at high revs almost like a race engine. The engine delivers 331 kW (450 hp) at 8,250 rpm and between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm - transmits a maximum of 430 Nm (317.15 lb-ft) of torque.
The vigorous strength, the spontaneous responsiveness, the joyful high-revving, and the throaty, sonorous music: this V8 produced by hand at Audi stunningly combines the essence of power and emotion. The 4.2 FSI propels the coupé’s 1,725 kilograms (3,802.97 pounds) in 4.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62.14 mph) to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph). Audi can increase that to 280 km/h (173.98 mph) upon request.
Impressive efficiency: just 10.8 liters of fuel per 100 km
Efficiency is standard in every Audi; the RS 5 is no exception. The ultra-powerful eight-cylinder engine averages 10.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (21.78 miles US mpg) - far less than its main competitors. This impressive figure is due in part to the technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform. The engine and the entire drivetrain have been optimized to minimize friction, the oil pump operates on demand, and an energy-recovery system conserves energy during coasting and braking.
The standard seven-speed S tronic in the RS 5 with its high efficiency ratio and its high-geared top speed also enhances efficiency. It consists of two clutches and two subsidiary transmissions. Both subsidiary transmissions are continuously active, but only one is powered at any given time by the engine. Gears are alternately shifted by the two clutches at lightning speed, smoothly, and almost imperceptibly.
The seven-speed S tronic, which was specially reinforced to accommodate the high-revving V8, can operate in fully automatic mode or the driver can shift via the innovative selector lever or shift paddles on the steering wheel. By means of the standard Audi drive select, the driver can switch in automatic mode among three different options: auto, comfort, and dynamic. In the launch control program, the seven-speed S tronic ensures flawless acceleration from a standstill – at full power and with minimal tire slip.
New quattro technology: the crown-gear differential
Like all RS models, the RS 5 also applies its power to the road with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. As for the center differential, which regulates power distribution between the front and rear axles, Audi – the leading all-wheel-drive brand – unveils the next generation: a crown-gear differential.
The self-locking crown-gear center differential is compact and lightweight – and attains a high efficiency ratio.
Thanks to its package of plates, the differential can widely vary the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles. If necessary, up to 70 percent can flow to the front or as much as 85 percent toward the tail end. The 40:60 ratio of the standard rear-biased configuration ensures sporty handling.
This new differential operates in conjunction with electronic torque vectoring, which affects all four wheels. If one of the inside wheels becomes imbalanced while the vehicle is at its operational limits, then the system slightly decelerates the wheel to obviate wheel spin. This results in terrific traction on the one hand while generating a yaw moment which aids cornering.
As a perfect complement to the new quattro drivetrain, Audi can optionally position the sport differential at the rear axle. It actively distributes torque between the rear wheels in order to further boost stability and grip at the vehicle’s limits of handling. The electronic management of the RS 5 sport differential was designed to be uncompromisingly dynamic.
With regard to the springs, shock absorbers, elastokinematics, and the anti-roll bars, the RS 5 chassis exhibits a sporty configuration and renders the body 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) lower than that of the Audi A5. The 19-inch alloy wheels fitted with 265/35 tires are standard. They are executed in an exclusive 5-arm structure design. The RS 5 optionally comes with 20-inch wheels and 275/30 tires. Winter wheels featuring the same dimensions are available; the 19-inch wheel is suitable for snow chains.
The brake system employs powerful and internally ventilated discs, which measure 365 millimeters (14.37 inches) in diameter at the front axle. In order to maximize the dissipation of heat, the steel friction rings are perforated and connected by pins to the aluminum brake discs. The high-gloss black brake calipers bearing RS logos are likewise made of aluminum; the front calipers are fitted with eight pistons each. Audi can optionally fit the front axle with ceramic carbon-fiber brake discs measuring 380 millimeters (14.96 inches) in diameter. They are extremely lightweight, strong, and durable. The electronic stabilization program (ESP) integrates a sport mode and can be switched off entirely.
Even more dynamics: Audi drive select
The speed-dependent servotronic steering in the RS 5 is especially taut. The standard Audi drive select (a vehicle-dynamics control system) allows the driver to switch among three modes of operation – comfort, auto, and dynamic – to adjust steering, the seven-speed S tronic, the sport differential, the engine, and the exhaust system. And if the car is equipped with the MMI navigation system, a fourth mode allows the driver to customize their own profile.
As regards the engine, Audi drive select controls the exhaust system’s two throttle valves and the sound flaps; when they open, the rich sound becomes even more resonant. Along with the sport differential, dynamic steering is another optional component of Audi drive select. Dynamic steering adjusts the steering ratio to a vehicle’s speed – directly for maneuvering at low speeds and indirectly for traveling at highway speeds. At the vehicle’s cornering limits, it automatically ensures smooth handling via minor corrective actions.
The RS 5 exudes an athletic and powerful identity; its classically beautiful coupé styling dazzles with new and clear-cut accents. Its single-frame grille bears a shiny charcoal-gray rhombus-pattern grid. Xenon plus headlights boasting a sweeping strip of LED daytime running lights are standard. The oversized air inlets for the engine, front brakes, and the radiators are bordered by striking contours. The newly designed bumper tapers downward into a splitter.
The flared fenders with the crisp horizontal upper edges are reminiscent of a classic Audi: namely, the all-wheel-drive pioneer Audi quattro, which itself debuted at the Geneva Auto Show 30 years ago. The side sills bear angular caps; the trim strips on the single-frame grille and near the side windows as well as the outside mirrors’ covers feature a matt aluminum look. Eight different paint finishes are available.
The tail end is dominated by two oval exhaust pipes integrated within the bumper. A large diffuser protrudes prominently upward. The spoiler in the tailgate automatically extends at a speed of 120 km/h (74.56 mph) and retracts at
80 km/h (49.71 mph).
The extensively clad underbody of the RS 5 integrates air vents for the seven-speed S tronic and the front brakes. At highway speeds, the aerodynamic characteristics of the RS 5 generate downforce to further enhance stability.
Dynamic elegance: the interior
The vehicle’s dynamically elegant styling extends to the interior. Sports seats with pronounced side sections and integrated head restraints are standard. They are electrically adjustable and feature a leather/Alcantara combination. Alternatives include bucket seats with more prominent contours and folding backrests or ventilated and luxuriously upholstered climate-controlled comfort seats.
The steering wheel has a substantial rim and is covered with perforated leather. The instruments have black gauges and white lettering with distinctive scaling. When the ignition is switched on, the red needles briefly rise high and then drop back down. The driver information system integrates a lap timer for recording circuit times and an oil-temperature gauge. Just like the optional MMI navigation systems’ monitor, it displays an RS greeting upon ignition.
The interior is black and the decorative inlays are made of carbon fiber. A fascia in the instrument panel features a piano finish. The pedals, the footrests, and the optional MMI navigation systems’ control buttons gleam thanks to their aluminum look. Moreover, the door handles consist of two slim strips – typical of Audi RS models. Aluminum inserts adorn the door sill trims and RS 5 logos lend dynamic highlights to the interior.
Upon request, truly exclusive features such as decorative inlays with a dark, stainless-steel mesh look, a black piano finish or brushed aluminum are available. Or seat upholstery featuring special leathers and colors as well as silver headlining. In addition, the Audi exclusive RS program offers options such as suede-covered controls and floor mats bearing RS 5 logos.
A Carbon design package is available for the engine compartment and, for the vehicle body, there are styling packages in black or matt aluminum look. And the acoustically bold Sport exhaust system – also with a sound flap – has black tailpipe trims.
Sales of the Audi RS 5 will begin in the spring. Its basic price will be approximately 77,700 euros.
Vorsprung durch Technik
Exactly 30 years ago a car that was destined to revolutionize automotive technology arrived on the scene: The first Audi quattro grabbed the public's attention at the Geneva Motor Show on March 3, 1980. This born winner with the four rings marked the start of a success story that is still continuing.
The birth of the first quattro is the story of driving trials in the snow and a trailblazing idea – a hollow shaft in the transmission that transmits engine power to both the front and rear wheels. With the added touch of a center differential, the first Audi quattro went on sale at the end of 1980. The angular coupé became an instant sales hit. With its permanent all-wheel drive and the 200 hp five-cylinder turbo engine it opened up a dimension of dynamism and driving fun that had previously been unavailable.
On the rally circuits Audi’s quattro models scooped two drivers' and manufacturers' titles each in the World Rally Championship between 1982 and 1984. The brand subsequently shifted its focus to circuit racing, where permanent all-wheel drive demonstrated its superiority anew. Audi’s drivers captured the most prestigious trophies up for grabs in Europe and the United States.
quattro has long since become one of the core technologies of the Audi brand. In time the first Audi quattro, now frequently referred to as the Urquattro, was joined by a whole family of roadgoing cars with permanent all-wheel drive that became more and more diverse. As of the end of 2009, Audi had built exactly 3,296,917 quattros. The current model range includes 126 all-wheel-drive versions.
The fascination of this technology is stronger and more alive than ever. Permanent all-wheel drive stands for stability and traction, driving safety and dynamism. Audi is also extending its Vorsprung durch Technik when it comes to permanent all-wheel drive. The next quattro generation is making its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. The new Audi RS 5 high-performance coupé redefines the benchmark for high performance, flexibility and efficiency.
Always a born winner
quattro technology from Audi has an anniversary to celebrate: The spotlights homed in on the first Audi quattro at the Geneva Motor Show on March 3, 1980. Its appearance signaled the start of a winning streak in motor sport and on ordinary roads that still continues today. Now, 30 years on, Audi is taking the wraps off the next generation of its successful technology.
The technology of quattro
How much performance can front-wheel drive develop? That was the question in winter 1976/77 during the test drives that Audi developers were conducting in Sweden. The camouflaged prototypes with their 170 hp five-cylinder engines put in a worthy performance. But they were left standing when pitted against a high-wheeled vehicle with 75 hp engine that was equipped with driver-engaged all-wheel drive – the Iltis military off-road vehicle that Audi was developing as the successor to the Munga.
Cars which distribute their propulsive power between all four wheels can generate a higher cornering force at each wheel than rear-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive vehicles. Their traction and cornering behavior are superior. A sporty Audi car with permanent all-wheel drive and plenty of engine power – that would be the perfect solution, thought the engineers.
The project got off the ground in the early part of 1977 as “Development Order 262”. It was masterminded by three young engineers: Technical Director
Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, Project Manager Walter Treser and Jörg Bensinger, Head of the Chassis Testing. The prototype bore the internal codename A1 – it was a modified first-generation Audi 80 with a slightly elongated wheelbase and the five-cylinder turbo engine of that would be fitted in the future Audi 200. The rear suspension comprised a second McPherson front suspension layout, rotated through 180 degrees.
In trials in deep snow on the Turracher Höhe in Styria, Austria, in January 1978 the test vehicle with the license number IN - NC 92 was able to demonstrate just how good its traction was. The definitive go-ahead was given by Volkswagen Board of Management Chairman Toni Schmücker in May 1978. One of the project engineers knew of a steeply sloping field in Stammham, near Ingolstadt. The local fire department was called in to saturate it from top to bottom. Schmücker climbed into the A1, and drove effortlessly all the way up the slope.
Meanwhile the wife of Volkswagen Development Director Ernst Fiala had been driving the A1 around in city traffic in Vienna, but complained that it felt tense on tight bends: “The car hops,” is how she put it. On bends, the front wheels describe a slightly larger arc than the rear wheels, so they need to be able to rotate faster. That was not possible on the prototype because its axles were rigidly connected. Audi’s developers focused on two priority objectives: The all-wheel drive was to be permanent, and it had to function without a separate transfer case and second propshaft at the front.
The hollow shaft – a stroke of genius by Audi
Franz Tengler, Head of Department in Transmission Design, had an idea that was as simple as it was practical: a 263 millimeter (10.35 in) long, hollow-drilled secondary shaft in the transmission, through which the power flowed in two directions. From its rear end, the shaft drove the cage of the manually lockable center differential. The differential transmitted 50 percent of the power via the propshaft to the rear axle, which in turn had its own differential lock. The other half of the drive torque was transferred to the front axle’s differential along an output shaft rotating inside the hollow secondary shaft.
The hollow shaft permitted all-wheel drive that was virtually tension-free, light, compact and efficient. The vital breakthrough was that the elegant quattro principle was no longer merely suitable for slow all-terrain vehicles and trucks, but also very specifically for sporty, fast passenger cars, and furthermore for volume-produced models.
All that remained was to decide on a name for the new car. One suggestion under consideration was “Carat”, an acronym of the German for “Coupé All-Wheel Drive Turbo”. Project Manager Treser came up with a better idea – and the quattro was born.
The first Audi quattro
“We wanted to symbolize a car that stands firmly on the ground. It was meant to put the emphasis on what it was capable of doing, not on what it looked like. That formal concept was a success because it was good, correct and honest,“ remarked former Design Chief Hartmut Warkuß about the first quattro.
Derived from the Audi 80 Coupé but clad in a body with angular edges, on March 3, 1980 the white-painted two-door car stood on an elevated turntable, adorned with a flower arrangement, in the middle of an indoor skating rink close to the Geneva showground. The five-seater had a compact wheelbase of 2,524 millimeters (99.37 in) and measured 4,404 millimeters (173.39 in) in length. Development Director Dr. Ferdinand Piëch was intensely aware of what an auspicious occasion this was. His speech concluded with the declaration: “This is the dawning of all-wheel drive in roadgoing passenger cars.”
147 kW (200 hp) and 295 Nm (217.58 lb-ft) – the Audi quattro driving machine
The Audi quattro was an uncompromising driving machine. It was powered by a five-cylinder turbo engine with a sonorous roar, installed longitudinally up front in typical Audi style. The two-valve power unit had a displacement of 2,144 cm3, and its boost pressure of 0.85 bar and charge-air intercooling helped it deliver 147 kW (200 hp) and 285 Nm (210.21 lb-ft) of torque. The quattro, weighing just under 1.3 tons (2,866 lb), sprinted from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.1 seconds and on to a top speed of around 220 km/h (136.70 mph). Its starting price of 49,900 marks, at that time a tidy sum, included forged 6 J x 15 wheels with 225/50 tires as standard, along with sports seats and front fog lamps.
Production started at the end of 1980 – in the special-work production hall N2 at Ingolstadt, where it was built predominantly by hand. Audi had initially planned to build only a very small run of 400 to enable the competition car to obtain homologation for the World Rally Championship. But the revolutionary drive concept and its extremely dynamic performance captivated the public from the very first day on, and the brand had difficulty keeping up with demand. When production of this car line finally ceased in May 1991, 11,452 units had been built.
Over this period of eleven years, Audi made various attentive refinements to the quattro. The interior gradually became more comfortable, without diluting its strictly functional character. The driving area was given digital displays in the style of the time, and for a while featured an acoustic function for warnings; Patricia Lipp, Bavarian Radio’s traffic news announcer, supplied the voice. The chassis, too – control arms, McPherson struts and disk brakes on all wheels – was gradually refined, eventually acquiring an anti-lock brake system.
The Sport quattro with shorter overall length and wheelbase appeared in 1984, as the homologation model of the new rally car. Its newly developed four-valve turbo engine with the aluminum engine block achieved an output of 225 kW (306 hp), with Kevlar and other lightweight materials cutting the body’s overall weight. The price tag of the “short version”, as the Sport quattro was known in public, meant that it was reserved for an exclusive clientele: 203,850 marks. Audi built 224 of this supercar. Four-valve technology was adopted in regular production in 1989, in a rather more toned-down version developing 220 hp.
The most important change arrived in the late summer of 1987. As well as an engine with marginally increased displacement that developed 200 hp, as before, the model now feature the Torsen differential; the worm gear replaced the manual differential lock. The name Torsen was a contraction of the two words torque and sensing.
The transmission distributed the propulsive power continuously, as required, diverting up to 75 percent of the torque to whichever pair of wheels achieved better grip. Thanks to the Torsen differential, which only locks up under load, the anti-lock brake system remained permanently available.
quattros in motor sport
The idea of the rally car was as long-established at Audi as the concept of the production quattro, and began to take shape as early as 1977. The Ingolstadt manufacturer made its first steps towards World Rally Championship glory with a front-wheel-drive Audi 80; by a feat of diplomacy it persuaded the competition’s governing body to accept all-wheel drive. The first quattro competition cars were tried out as prototypes in 1980. In the same year, the VW Iltis developed and entered by Audi won the Paris-Dakar Rally, with four driven wheels.
In the first few days of 1981 Audi descended like a whirlwind on the World Rally Championship scene, which in those days was still rather modest in proportions. The quattro, at that time with a 310 hp engine, made its debut in the Austrian Jänner Rally, which did not count towards the World Championship. Local hero Franz Wittmann won at the first attempt, with a lead of more than 20 minutes over the runner-up.
At its World Championship debut in the Monte Carlo Rally, the quattro again demonstrated its superiority. On snow – ideal conditions for this car – Hannu Mikkola won the first six special stages and was only halted by an accident. Then, in the Swedish Rally, the Finn clinched the first win. The French driver Michèle Mouton became the first woman to win a World Championship heat in San Remo, and Mikkola emerged victorious again in the RAC Rally. At the end of the Audi model’s first year in action, it was placed third in the drivers’ standings.
By as early as 1982, the quattro was virtually unbeatable anywhere in the world; Audi redefined the benchmark with seven victories and captured the Manufacturers' Trophy. Mouton won in Portugal, Greece and Brazil; only a breakdown in the penultimate heat in Côte d’Ivoire cost her the drivers’ title. However, Hannu Mikkola set the record straight in 1983 after winning in Finland, Sweden, Argentina and Portugal.
Triple win at “Monte” – the start to the 1984 season
The next year, too, began with a win. The newly recruited two-times World Champion Walter Röhrl won the Monte Carlo Rally ahead of his team colleagues Stig Blomqvist (Sweden) and Hannu Mikkola. At the finish, co-pilot Christian Geistdörfer congratulated his colleague with the remark: “Do you realize you’ve never driven so fast in your life?” At the end of the season Audi again dominated the manufacturers’ standings with seven wins, five of them by Blomqvist, who edged out Mikkola to become World Champion.
But 1984 was also the year in which rally competition entered a new orbit. The competitors exploited the very liberal regulations at that time in Group B to enter mid-engine cars that were purely functional pieces of machinery with very little resemblance to production models. The Ingolstadt team, too, considered switching to such a concept and a prototype was created. In the end, however, the project was abandoned – the longitudinally installed front engine was retained.
Audi’s new weapon was the Sport quattro with a wheelbase of just 2,224 millimeters (87.56 in) – an attempt to make the car lighter and more maneuverable by shortening it drastically by 300 millimeters (11.81 in). The “short version” was used from May in parallel with the old version, but took time to build up some momentum. Blomqvist had to wait until the penultimate heat in Côte d’Ivoire for the first win. Audi needed to turn up the heat.
July 1, 1985 was the date of the homologation of the final stage in its evolution, the S1. This model went down as a true colossus in the history of rally competition because of its extreme character. The aluminum five-cylinder engine officially developed 350 kW (476 hp) and 480 Nm (354.03) of torque; with a charge-air circulation system that kept the turbo engine constantly supplied, the real figure was probably in excess of 370 kW (over 500 hp), at around 8,000 rpm.
In the middle ratio the 1,090 kilogram (2,403.04 lb) S1 shot from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 3.1 seconds, and to 200 km/h (124.27 mph) in 11.8 seconds. When the driver stepped off the accelerator, the exhaust spat out meter-long searing tongues of fire. “It’s like riding on a bullet,” declared Walter Röhrl, “like an explosion. Everything happens so unbelievably fast you haven’t even got time to think.”
The first dual-clutch transmission – hi-tech in the S1
There were various differential locks to choose from for the quattro driveline – multi-plate, Torsen and conventional. In the last race of the season, the British RAC Rally, Walter Röhrl used a dual-clutch transmission that was actuated pneumatically by a long lever – a precursor of today’s S tronic.
The chassis comprised a tubular space frame paneled with sheet steel and plastic; to optimize the weight distribution the radiator, fan, battery and alternator were at the rear. Giant vanes scooped air onto the car on fast stretches, and the brakes could be cooled with splash water.
Afterwards, Walter Röhrl described it as follows: “Forcing the quattro with its heavy engine up front into a bend was like wielding a mallet. On the other hand there was that indescribable traction, and I simply couldn't shake off its fascination. All-wheel driving – that’s the ultimate experience for me.”
But the halcyon days of Group B were already numbered; the technically and organizationally draining race for supremacy had changed the world of rally driving for good. On narrow roads skirting along yawning precipices, across slick ice, rough gravel and oily asphalt, the familiar physical parameters began to develop cracks; hitherto familiar bends became tight and treacherous. And fans in Southern Europe, whipped up into a hysterical euphoria, made things even more dangerous. Like matadors facing a bull, they would stand alongside or on the track and wait until the very last moment to leap aside.
The final blow to Group B came in early 1986 when three spectators and two participants were killed in accidents in World Championship races in Portugal and Corsica. Audi, which in any case had substantially scaled back its involvement, pulled out of the series. The new mid-engine car developed for the scheduled Group S never entered the fray; the world federation FISA decided to switch to the close-to-production Group A regulations. Audi still participated in a few rallies in 1987 and Mikkola won the Safari ahead of Röhrl in a family sedan, the Audi 200.
The S1 nevertheless still enjoyed a final feat when its 440 kW (approx. 600 hp) helped Walter Röhrl to storm up the 156 bends of Pikes Peak in Colorado, the United States, to an altitude of 4,301 meters (14,110 ft) in 1987. He managed to get his racing car, fitted with a giant wing to increase downforce, into sixth gear on four occasions along the 19.99 kilometer (12.42 mile) sand and gravel track, and at his fastest was clocked at 196 km/h (121.79 mph).
On the back of wins by Michèle Mouton and Bobby Unser, this made it three wins in a row for Audi in America’s most famous hill climb, the “Race to the Clouds”. Röhrl’s time of 10:47.85 min lopped more than 21 seconds off Unser’s track record from the previous year.
Traction on asphalt – the switch to touring car competition
The triumphs on Pikes Peak whetted Audi’s appetite for more – it entered the American TransAm series for one year in 1988. The hood of the Audi 200 quattro concealed the five-cylinder turbo power unit from the World Rally Championship; its 375 kW (510 hp) propelled the American driver Hurley Haywood to the Championship title. With eight wins out of 13 races, Audi also captured the manufacturers’ trophy.
The next year, the works team switched to the IMSA GTO Series, with its even more liberal regulations. Outwardly, the GTO resembled the Audi 90 quattro but the outer skin was only a gesture of a plastic silhouette. Beneath it lurked an uncompromising driving machine, based on a floor pan made from carbon fiber composite material and a tubular space frame.
In its final evolutionary stage the five-cylinder engine, with 2.65 bar boost pressure and the thrust circulation system from the S1, developed around 530 kW (approx. 720 hp), and the four driven wheels were 36 centimeters (14.17 in) wide. Hans Joachim Stuck finished third in the championship with seven wins in 15 races, and the team managed second place in the manufacturers’ trophy.
In 1990 Audi switched to the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) with the brand’s top model, the V8 quattro. The luxury sedan’s 3.6-liter naturally aspirated engine achieved an output of 340 kW (462 hp). That, in conjunction with all-wheel drive, was sufficient to fend off the model’s lesser-powered but lighter challengers, despite its weight of 1,290 kilograms (2,843.96 lb).
Stuck won the championship in the first year, and in 1991 the young Frank Biela emulated his achievement in a heart-stopping final race at Hockenheimring. Following a dispute about the legality of the new crankshaft, the team withdrew the V8 quattro 1992 part way through the season. Audi had won half of all the 36 races staged in 1990 and 1991.
The brand enjoyed its most successful year ever in touring car competition in 1996. The A4 quattro Supertouring, with its 218 kW (296 hp) two-liter, four-cylinder engine, was an ultramodern racing car. The driver’s seat was positioned well back, the six-speed transmission had sequential shifting and the aerodynamics had been developed in elaborate wind tunnel tests.
The A4 quattro Supertouring entered seven national championships on three continents – in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and Australia. It won every single one of them. In the intensely competitive German STC Series, with a field of eight brands, Emanuele Pirro emerged on top, as did Frank Biela in Great Britain. Two years later, the European governing body largely banished all-wheel drive from touring car competition. It was simply too hard to beat.
quattros in production
It was not long before the first quattro from 1980 acquired siblings. From 1982, Audi launched five more all-wheel-drive versions – the Audi Coupé, the Audi 80/90 and the Audi 100/200, which set a new aerodynamics world record in the 1980s. The new versions reflected the fundamental principle of offering a quattro version in each car line, and were exceptionally popular with customers thanks to the good publicity generated by the motor sport triumphs.
The V8 model, initially with an output of 185 kW (250 hp) and subsequently rising to 206 kW (280 hp), appeared at the top of the range. The sedan was available exclusively with permanent all-wheel drive; customers likewise almost always ordered the quattro versions of its successor, the A8. For many years the top models in the luxury-class car line were simultaneously the most powerful production quattros built by Audi. At the start of 2009 the R8 5.2 FSI quattro high-performance sports car stepped into that role; it has a purpose-designed quattro driveline that directs the engine’s power in the first instance to the rear wheels.
In 1995 Audi also started to equip its high-torque TDI models with quattro drive – a really effective combination. The first such model was the A6 2.5 TDI quattro; its V6 developed 103 kW (140 hp). The current model range is very extensive. The basis comprises the A3 and A4 car lines – in which quattro drive is available right from the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI upwards. It culminates in the Q7 V12 TDI quattro – the most powerful diesel SUV in the world, with a mammoth output of 368 kW (500 hp) from a displacement of six liters.
The compact Audi models – the A3 and TT car lines – have likewise been available with permanent all-wheel drive since 1999. Their transverse engines mean that instead of the center differential, they have an electronic control system with a hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch acting as an interaxle differential lock. Audi has successively refined this concept over the years – an extremely high-performance pressure accumulator now ensures that the power is redistributed in an instant if need be.
The active sport differential made its debut in the Audi S4 in 2008 and has since been used in other models. With the active sport differential, Audi elevates the driving dynamics and traction of the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system to a level unequaled by any competitor. The vehicle’s handling is sportily neutral when cornering at high speeds. It responds more directly to the steering, and the vehicle is also stabilized during load reversals. In addition to delivering significantly more driving fun, higher lateral acceleration is possible on bends. Considerably less steering effort is required of the driver.
Sporty and elegant – the Audi S models
From 1990 the S models helped to raise the dynamic image that the brand had acquired through its involvement in motor sport. A pioneering role was played by the S2 Coupé, the successor to the first quattro. Its elegant character was solid proof of how sportiness and refined style work together in perfect harmony. The new family grew rapidly, culminating in the appearance of the S8 in 2006. From the very start, quattro drive was an integral aspect of all S models. Audi currently has the S3, S4, S5, S6 and TTS car lines on sale.
The brand’s first RS model, the 1994 Audi RS 2 Avant, was also enthusiastically received by fans, with its abundant everyday suitability and a potent five-cylinder turbo engine. The RS 4 Avant from 2000 was powered by a V6 biturbo; the RS 6 (2002) was driven by a supercharged 4.2-liter V8. This was followed in 2005 by a new RS 4 that was propelled by a high-revving eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. In it, Audi unveiled a new evolutionary version of quattro drive – a center differential that distributed the engine’s power 40:60 between the front and rear wheels.
Today quattro GmbH, the AUDI AG subsidiary, builds exclusive series of five RS models. These are the RS 6 and RS 6 Avant with their biturbo-powered V10 power units (426 kW/580 hp), the TT RS and the TT RS Roadster with their supercharged five-cylinder engines (250 kW/340 hp) and the brand new RS 5 with its V8 naturally aspirated engine developing 331 kW (450 hp). Its quattro driveline now features yet another new technology – the so-called crown gear differential that increases traction yet further and produces outstanding handling characteristics.
In the 30 years between 1980 and the end of 2009, Audi has built 3,296,917 cars with permanent all-wheel drive. In recent years, across all car lines quattro versions have consistently accounted for more than one-quarter of the total; in 2009 the figure was 34.0 percent. The A4 and A6 are the most successful Audi car lines in terms of sheer units; the same applies to their quattro versions. Including its predecessor car lines, 1,132,186 of the A4 had been supplied with permanent all-wheel drive by the end of 2009; the total for the A6 is 1,109,155.
Worldwide, Audi is the leading premium-segment manufacturer of passenger cars with permanent all-wheel drive. The current model range includes 126 quattro versions. The Q5, Q7, R8, A4 allroad quattro, A6 allroad quattro and all S and RS models are supplied exclusively with all-wheel drive.
Tire tracks in the snow being contemplated reverently by an aged Eskimo, who then turns to his grandson and says: “Audi – quattro.” The snow-covered ski jump that the Audi 100 CS quattro drives up without any external assistance – over quattro’s 30-year history Audi has made a whole range of TV commercials that highlight the mystique of quattro and the emotions it arouses. Some of these films have become true classics.
The idea of the ski jump commercial took shape in 1986. In tests on a Tyrolean glacier an Audi 100 quattro conquered a 39 degree uphill gradient – so the ski jump in the Finnish resort of Kaipola, 300 kilometers (186.41 miles) north of Helsinki, was slightly gentler at 37.5 degrees, though still more than 80 percent. A crane hoisted the car onto the outrun, where it was secured in three different ways – by a concealed steel cable, by a braking device beneath the front end, and by a retaining net on the outrun.
Professional rally driver Harald Demuth, who had previously driven the quattro in competitive racing, only needed this braking device to halt at the top. He effortlessly drove the Audi 100 CS quattro under its own power up the 78-meter (255.91 ft) jump – virtually blind, because his car’s nose was pointing steeply up into the sky.
The commercial came to be regarded as one of the all-time best moments in Audi advertising, and is still talked about today; Audi shot a remake in early 2005 with an A6 4.2 quattro, for which a construction team specially renovated the Kaipola jump that had last been used in 1994. Typically for the brand, the overall strategy in the advertisement was and is focused unequivocally on the products. And there is simply no doubting their credibility, because thanks to their motor sport successes the quattros have had a bigger impact on the Audi brand than any advertising campaigns costing millions could have achieved.
The quattro versions are outwardly almost indistinguishable from their front-wheel-drive counterparts. They are no mere peripheral members of the model range, they are the driving force behind this highly advanced technical brand and an integral part of it. The term quattro means more than traction – it represents emotion, driving safety and sportiness, it stands for engineering expertise and a dynamic spirit.
Success story – quattro GmbH
In its sheer exclusivity, this special Audi lifestyle is also the hallmark of the product range of quattro GmbH, which was established in Neckarsulm in 1983. The Audi subsidiary has operated as a vehicle manufacturer since 1996. quattro GmbH currently has over 700 employees and runs its own development and production operations, e.g. for the R8 high-performance sports car and the
Q7 V12 TDI performance SUV.
Fascination – quattro show cars
Another instrument that Audi uses to nurture the fascination of quattro is spectacular design studies. In fall 1991, the brand unveiled two sports cars with mid-engine and permanent all-wheel drive in rapid succession at the Frankfurt and Tokyo Motor Shows – the quattro Spyder and the Avus quattro. The large show car in particular, with its outer skin of polished sheet aluminum and W12 engine, is still vividly remembered. In 200 there followed another dramatic study – the “Rosemeyer” was a tribute to the Grand Prix racing cars built by Auto Union in the 1930s.
The show cars that stole the limelight in 1995 were rather closer to the reality of everyday driving: The TT quattro, in Coupé and Roadster versions, was not far removed from the production version. In 2001 the all-wheel-drive concept cars Pikes Peak, Nuvolari and Le Mans quattro served to pave the way for the later Q7, A5 and R8.
In recent years the primary purpose of Audi show cars has been to showcase new directions in driveline technology. The e-tron, one of the stars of the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, is a fast sports car with purely electric drive. Its output of 230 kW (313 hp) is used to drive all four wheels – in typical Audi fashion. 30 years after going into production, the quattro idea is more dynamic and emotional than ever.
The next step: quattro drive with crown gear center differential
Over the 30 years since the debut of the first quattro, Audi has gradually increased its technology lead in the sphere of all-wheel drive. Not that the Ingolstadt engineers are content to rest on their laurels. At the Geneva Motor Show, the company is now presenting a new evolutionary stage – quattro drive with crown gear center differential and torque vectoring. This technology, which is even more efficient, precise and high-performance than the previous concept, is making its debut in the new Audi RS 5 high-performance coupé.
The self-locking center differential in the quattro driveline, positioned immediately at the transmission output, has the task of distributing the engine torque between the two axles in defined proportions. If one wheel of an axle starts to slip – for instance on a slippery surface – the differential without delay diverts most of the propulsive power to the axle achieving better traction.
The crown gears are driven by four straight-cut compensating gears arranged at angles of 90 degrees to each other. They are pivot-mounted on the axles that are fixed to the housing. This allows the equalization of speeds between the front and rear axles that is needed when cornering, for instance.
40:60 – the basic torque split between front and rear
When the front and rear axles are rotating at exactly the same speed, the two crown gears run at the same speed as the differential housing. But because of the special design of the teeth, they have different numbers of teeth and meshing points at different diameters. The lever effects are therefore unequal. With the basic torque split, 60 percent of the engine torque flows to the differential for the rear axle and 40 percent to the front. This permits very good traction and driving dynamics.
When drive torques are introduced via the gearing of the compensating gears, axial forces occur inside the differential. These force both crown gears outwards. This axial force is used to compress plate packages located behind the crown gears. The resulting locking torque redistributes the torques between the crown gears.
For example if the RS 5’s front wheels encounter a patch of snow, the speed of the front axle will momentarily rise. This produces a speed difference between the two crown gears and the housing. The self-locking effect in the crown gear center differential now immediately diverts the drive torque to whichever axle achieves better traction. Up to 85 percent of the drive torque reaches the rear wheels. In the opposite scenario – if the RS 5’s rear axle achieves less grip – the same happens in reverse; now up to 70 percent of the torque is diverted to the front axle.
With this broad torque distribution range the newly developed crown gear center differential surpasses its predecessors – traction becomes even better thanks to increased locking effect. Forces and torques are redistributed permanently without any time lag, and absolutely consistently. The driver can easily handle the situation. No control electronics or electromagnetic or hydraulic actuation are needed. The purely mechanical operating principle guarantees maximum efficiency and no-delay response.
Other strong points of the crown gear center differential are its compactness and low weight – at 4.8 kilograms (10.58 lb) it is up to 2.1 kilograms (4.63 lb) lighter. After making its debut in the RS 5, it will then become available in other models. This Vorsprung durch Technik impressively demonstrates the constant progress being made by quattro drive technology. It also increases Audi’s lead over its competitors.
For dynamic cornering – torque vectoring
Audi combines the crown gear center differential in the RS 5 – and in other models in which it will subsequently feature – with an intelligent software solution, torque vectoring. An evolutionary form of the ESP with electronic differential lock that is already fitted as standard in many front-wheel-drive models, it acts on all four wheels. The new system makes cornering even more precise and dynamic.
Using the driver’s steering input and desired level of acceleration, the control unit calculates the optimal distribution of propulsive power between all four wheels for each specific situation. If need be it marginally brakes the wheels on the inside of the bend – just slight application of the pads on the disks at minimal pressure is all that it takes.
This assistance is provided continuously and directly for high-speed cornering. The neutral handling range becomes noticeably broader and understeering when turning and accelerating is reduced. ESP action can take place later and becomes softer.
The new crown gear center differential with is constant, always precisely defined operating method permits responsive, precise torque vectoring action.
For greater lateral dynamics and more driving fun, the quattro driveline can be further enhanced with the sport differential that actively distributes power between the individual rear wheels. When the sport differential is active, torque vectoring applies only to the front axle.