Audi Celebrates 40 Years Of Quattro

There is one feature of Audi that we have all come to know and love, regardless of if you are a classic Audi fan or a modern Audi fan: the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The Quattro started as a single model designed for low production and quickly became a badge proudly worn by at least one trim of every Audi model currently available.

How the Quattro came to be

There is a little bit more to the Quattro back story than a bunch of engineers and designers sitting around a conference table trying to decide on the next best thing.

The Quattro story began on a snowy winter day in Sweden. The year is 1976 and the engineers of Audi are out to test drive their latest road-worthy cars to see how they’d perform in snowy conditions.

The engineers had noticed how another car with less horsepower was handling the slick roads with a lot more ease, outperforming the prototypes that Audi was working on at the time. The front-wheel-drive that the Audi cars had wasn’t holding up to the task, and at some point in that day the engineers decided that their cars need an innovative upgrade: all-wheel-drive.

Audi Ur-Quattro during the Jaennerrallye 2020

The Audi all-wheel-drive system, or cleverly named Quattro, made its major debut in 1980 with the manufacturer’s Ur-Quattro, the original Quattro car from Audi. This boxy and awkward had 200hp, and when it took the stage at the year’s Geneva Motor Show Audi announced that they would be a limited production run.

And it was better than anyone ever expected

What Audi wasn’t expecting was for the car to become a massive hit, leading it to become a full-scale production car later down the road. The Quattro model was revamped and restyled until 1991, but the Quattro badge stuck.

There is something that makes the Quattro system unique, and that’s the use of hollow components. Instead of using unnecessarily heavy shafts to connect the drivetrain, the hollow tubes weighed significantly less and negated the need for transfer cases or the secondary prop shaft. Because the system was no longer solid, it wasn’t useful for heavy-duty all-terrain cars and trucks, but instead took it’s footing in the world of powerful sports cars.

The addition of an all-wheel-drive system gave Audi an edge over the competition. Cars with the Quattro badge not only produced power but was able to deliver that power to all of the wheels, giving it a noticeably improved driving experience over the manufacturers also available front-wheel-drive cars.

Having all-wheel drive also made the Quattro cars a good option for anyone who lived where there was snow or frequent rain, and that meant you had options besides a truck or an SUV if you were looking to get all-wheel drive, a major benefit several manufacturers didn’t see for several years after the Quattro’s inception.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive option became available in almost all Audi models today, giving the cars unforgettable driving experience.


Quattro: How This Car Made Audi What it is Today