A successful Audi technology is celebrating its anniversary this year: the quattro transmission is 40 years old. Since the quattro's debut in 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show, the principle of four-wheel drive has become one of the main pillars of the brand. To date, Audi has produced nearly 10.5 million cars equipped with the quattro transmission. The celebration of the 40th anniversary of Audi quattro technology took place on October 13 and 14 in an exclusive setting.
The highlight of this event is the presence of more than 20 historic Audi quattro models available to guests for an excursion on the second day. The highlight of this event is the presence of more than 20 historic Audi quattro models. available to guests for an excursion on the second day. Special thanks to the private owners of rare models, as Audi Switzerland has been able to make a wide range of quattro models available thanks to the support of enthusiasts of the brand. Were present: The “father” VW Iltis, urquattro from 1981, Audi quattro 20V models, group 4 rally cars, a Treser quattro convertible, of which only 30 were built, and two Audi Sport quattro, of which only 220 were built. exist. And here is the next chapter in this success story: The fully electric Audi e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback use the electric Torque Vectoring system.
For more than 40 years now, quattro permanent all-wheel drive has been the key technical competence and a true pillar of the Audi brand. On the occasion of the anniversary, Audi Switzerland celebrated the event as it should in the presence of renowned historical legends. It was a unique opportunity to experience various Audi quattro icons from the past 40 years on the dynamic roads of the Lucerne region. On site, the event began with a friendly aperitif followed by an expert dialogue moderated by Dino Graf, Head of AMAG Group Communication, in the presence of the two Audi Sport legends Harald Demuth and Marco Werner.
Dieter Jermann, Brand Director Audi Switzerland, opened the expert dialogue with the current state of development of the e-quattro transmission. Mr Jermann then presented the 40 years of innovation as well as the latest technical creations of the brand with the four rings – the Torque Vectoring system, available for the first time as standard on the new Audi e-tron S, ready for a race. test from November at Swiss dealers.
Audi Sport legends Harald Hemuth and Marco werner were interviewed by Dino Graf, Head of AMAG Group Communication, as part of the expert dialogue on quattro transmission. Insider knowledge and personal experiences from an unforgettable time have been revealed.
World premiere of Audi quattro technology at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980
In March 1980, at the Geneva Motor Show, an all-wheel-drive sports coupe was a real eye-catcher. The Audi quattro system offered for the first time a high-performance vehicle with all-wheel drive – a drive concept until then reserved for trucks and off-road vehicles. The idea for such a four-wheel-drive touring car was born in the winter of 1976/77 during test drives with the Volkswagen Iltis all-terrain vehicle, intended for the Bundeswehr, which was in development at Audi. The excellent driving behavior of this all-terrain vehicle on ice and snow gave rise to the idea of combining the all-wheel drive of the Volkswagen Iltis with a production Audi 80.
The road tests were convincing. The result? A sporty Audi coupe named quattro. The vehicle was powered by a 147 kW / 200 hp variant of the 2.2-liter turbo five-cylinder engine introduced in the fall of 1979.
The Audi quattro made its motorsport debut at the start of 1981, at the Jänner Rallye in Austria. Since then, the sporty four-wheel drive from Ingolstadt has revolutionized the international rally and racing scene.
Change of image: then and now – every 40 years
"Vorsprung durch Technik": Although this slogan has been used by Audi since 1971, it only gained strength with the Audi quattro in 1980. "quattro" was synonymous with four-wheel drive. Before the launch of the Audi 100 (generation C3) with aerodynamic lines, it was the Audi quattro that changed the automotive landscape – the brand with the four rings was thus making its first steps in the premium segment. It is greeted by the specialized press around the world with an avalanche of superlatives.
40 years later, Audi is launching a new brand campaign in October 2020. Audi is redefining the concept of "Vorsprung" and placing people with their values and needs at the center of its refined brand strategy. Sustainability, digitization and design continue to be central themes. The new global brand campaign and its motto “Future is an attitude” explains the transition to sustainable and digital premium mobility.
Audi's long-term electrification strategy
Audi’s board of directors has come out clearly in favor of an electric-focused branding strategy. In 2019, Audi launched the first fully electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron. This was followed in 2020 by other electric vehicles such as the Audi e-tron Sportback as well as several plug-in hybrid models. In 2025, one in two Audi vehicles sold must be an electric model, including plug-in hybrid. The Audi brand is clearly synonymous with design, connectivity and driving experience, and customer satisfaction is the top priority in order to become the leading provider of premium, CO2-neutral mobility. Climate-neutral development and production are expected after 2030.
Switzerland, the “land of the quattro” – legends and legal changes
The quattro is naturally the car for Switzerland and arouses enthusiasm throughout the country. Switzerland is quickly becoming the "country of the quattro", which is corroborated by another event: in 1984, AMAG organized an event in Davos with the world rally champion Hannu Mikkola and the Audi quattro. At the same time, the Graubünden police must go and look for people blocked by snow in the Flüela Pass. However, it is impossible to cross the pass in the period police car. Accompanied by a policeman, Mikkola reached the pass in the quattro vehicle without difficulty and with summer tires. According to legend, this event is so significant that the regulations on the wearing of chains are therefore relaxed, so that all-wheel drive vehicles are no longer required to be fitted with them.
Cutting-edge technology – the Audi e-tron S and the Torque Vectoring electric system
Audi continues its electric offensive with the new Audi e-tron S and Audi e-tron S Sportback. Each of these two fully electric S models uses three electric motors, two of which are on the rear axle. Their intelligent transmission control takes driving safety and above all driving dynamics to an unmatched level: For electric all-wheel drive, the electric Torque Vectoring system works on the rear axle with active and fully variable torque distribution.
In S mode, they deliver their full power for eight seconds – an output of 370 kW and 973 Nm of torque. The standard sprint lasts 4.5 seconds, and the acceleration stops at 210 km / h. The new S models have two electric motors on the rear axle and one on the front axle – they are the world's first electric cars with three electric motors to roll off the assembly lines in mass production. The arrangement of the transmission components is based on the modular principle: the most powerful electric motor, which drives the rear axle on the Audi e-tron 55, is now suitable for mounting on the front axle. The front electric motor from the Audi e-tron 55 runs at the rear with a similarly constructed twin and some modifications.
The balance of success
Since 1980, nearly 10.5 million cars with quattro transmission have been produced2019 report: 804,224 quattro models produced worldwide; quattro technology goes hand in hand with all powerful models of the brand
Quattro mechanical technologies
A wide range of specialized technologies: quattro permanent all-wheel drive, quattro with ultra technology for models with engine located longitudinally at the front, not to mention the sport differential with which many top-of-the-range quattro models are equipped, with multi-plate clutch for models with transverse engine and the R8 sports car
Electric all-wheel drive
Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback with two independent electric motors Audi e-tron S and Audi e-tron S Sportback with three electric transmissions, including two electric motors on the rear axle, with electric Torque Vectoring system
Years 1980 to 1999: original quattro from 1980 and quattro sport (1984) with central differential with manual locking, 1986 differential Torsen, 1999 TT and A3 with transverse engine and quattro transmission with viscous coupling Years 2000 to 2020: 2005 central differential with basic distribution asymmetric dynamics, 2007 Audi R8 with viscous coupling, 2008 sport differential, 2016 quattro with ultra technology
quattro in motorsport
1980s: from 1982 to 1984 four titles in the world rally championship, from 1985 to 1987 three victories in the Pikes Peak mountain race, then great successes in the United States at the Trans-Am Series and IMSA GTO 1990s : 1990 and 1991 drivers' championships in the DTM championship, 1996 seven titles in seven national Super Touring Car championships in one season 2010: three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and four WEC titles with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.