In the International Geneva Motor Show de 1980, Audi introduced a sports coupe with all-wheel drive that aroused the admiration of the press and the public: the Audi quattro. This vehicle marked a before and after in the field of passenger cars and in competition, thanks to its revolutionary technology to transmit power. Since then, the quattro traction system has been one of the hallmarks of Audi, which has already sold more than 10,5 million vehicles with four-wheel drive.
Sometimes great ideas lead to extraordinary vehicles. And the Audi quattro, the first high-performance all-wheel drive vehicle, is the fruit of a brilliant idea ... and countless dynamic tests in the snow.
The genesis of this four-wheel-drive car, a transmission concept that until then was reserved for use in trucks and off-road vehicles, emerged in the winter 1976 to 1977, during the tests of the Volkswagen illtis that Audi was developing for the German army in Scandinavia, under the leadership of Jörg Bensinger.
The brand with the four rings was working on a high-performance sports vehicle on the platform of the Audi 80 series production, equipped with the powerful five-cylinder turbo engine that fitted the Audi 200. And the incredible dynamic qualities of the Iltis on icy and snowy terrain led Audi engineers to adapt its all-wheel drive to the sports prototype, seeking to achieve an optimal and constant traction force regardless of the grip conditions.
In the spring of 1977 the green light was given to Project 262Directed by Walter treser. They were the origins of the future Audi quattro, also known as Ur-quattro, where "Ur" in German means "original", or "the first of its kind."
In January 1978, the first experimental prototype with a rudimentary system of solidarity axes demonstrated its impressive traction qualities on the first tests carried out on the snowy roads of the Austrian Alps, making two things clear: the undeniable superiority of the four-wheel drive over the slippery road ... and the disadvantages for its use in a car, due to twisting in the transmission when cornering tight on dry asphalt surfaces.
The genius of the quattro system developed by Audi was to make compatible the two conditions that all-wheel drive had to meet for a street sports car: being compact and light, and having a central differential.
To solve the size and weight problems of a transmission with a transfer case like the one used in off-road vehicles, the technicians turned to a genius solution: a concentric hollow shaft arrangement. The primary axle, responsible for distributing the force from the center differential to the front differential, passed through the interior of the secondary axle, which was hollow and transmitted the force from the gearbox to the center differential.
This allowed the size of the gearbox to be practically the same as in a front-wheel drive car. All three differentials were free, and to ensure power transmission in difficult grip conditions the driver could lock the center and rear differentials from controls located on the center console, ahead of the gear lever.
Thus was born the Audi quattro, which began to be sold in the late 1980s. A variant with the modified bodywork of an Audi Coupé, with sharp lines, with permanent all-wheel drive and a powerful supercharged engine that provided an extremely sporty dynamic behavior.
With a 5 cc 2.144-cylinder engine, two-valve cylinder head, a turbocharger with a blow pressure of 0,85 bar and 200 CV, the Audi quattro accelerated from 0 to 100 km / h in 7,1 seconds, and reached a maximum speed of 220 km/h. The sales price in Germany was 49.900 marks, including sports seats, fog lights and alloy wheels.
The original Audi quattro with a 200 hp engine remained a model in the Audi range until 1991 and underwent several technical updates.
In 1987, the manual locking center differential fitted to the first quattro since its launch was replaced by a Torsen differential. A very innovative solution, capable of distributing torque in a variable way and allowing the independent rotation of the axles, so that, in addition to the advantages in traction, it was achieved that the ABS anti-lock braking system was no longer incompatible with traction total. With this system, Audi retained a conventional differential on the rear axle, which could be locked in poor grip conditions. The differential lock was automatically disengaged from a speed of 25 km / h, and the ABS only remained disengaged as long as the rear differential lock was maintained.
AUDI SPORT QUATTRO: THE SHORTY
In 1983, Audi introduced the Audi Sport quattro at Frankfurt Motor Show. The brand with the four rings decided to develop this version to maintain the leadership in competition that it had achieved with the Audi quattro. And to be admitted to the Group B Of the rally, the international regulations required a minimum of 200 units to be mass produced, limiting the engine displacement by regulation to a maximum of 2.133 cubic centimeters.
On the basis of the “Ur-quattro”, the engineers of the brand with the four rings shortened the wheelbase and developed a version of the 5-cylinder engine with 2,1 liters, double camshaft and four valves per cylinder. The body was made of aramid and carbon fiber. With their 306 CV to 6.700 rpm and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 3.700 rpm, the sports coupe exuded technology and high performance. It became Audi's first supercar, and also the most powerful series-produced German car. His minor battle earned him the nickname of Shorty.
The Ingolstadt brand produced a total of 214 units of the Audi Sport quattro, which were sold at a price of almost 200.000 marks. This kept the Audi Sport quattro as the most expensive model ever marketed by the four-ring brand to date. In exchange, customers got an impressive vehicle, which combined in a single car the qualities of a car capable of prevailing competition with the reliability and comfort necessary to be used on the open road every day.
THE AUDI QUATTRO IN COMPETITION
Audi's entry into the world of rallying with an official team occurred in 1978, at that time with front-wheel drive cars. The regulation prohibited the use of all-wheel drive in the World Cup and no manufacturer even questioned its use when the German Federation, at the behest of Audi, asked the International Automobile Federation the authorization to allow the participation of vehicles with four-wheel drive. After all, the brand that made the request at that time did not even have a vehicle with these characteristics in its catalog.
However, the successes in the World Championship came just a year after the introduction of the original Audi quattro. On the snow of the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally, the Finnish driver Hannu mikkola he won the first six special stages with an absolute superiority: he missed the victory due to a problem with the alternator, when he had an advantage of almost six minutes. The first victory was not long in coming: it was in the next event, Rally Sweden.
The Audi quattro and all-wheel drive dominated the championship the following year, in 1982, with seven victories and the first world title. In 1983 Audi won the championship and the drivers' runner-up with Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist. And in 1984 came the double, with the brands title for Audi and the drivers' title for Blomqvist, who became the first in the specialty to win five rallies in the same season.
Still on the basis of the original Audi quattro, Audi developed the Group B Sport quattro for the 1984 season, with a shorter wheelbase for even more agile reactions.
In 1985 it was followed by Sport quattro S1, with an engine boosted up to 476 CV for a weight of just 1.090 kilograms, which allowed him to accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in just 3,1 seconds. A model elevated to the category of legend, which among its milestones was the victory in the mythical climb to the Pikes Peak in Colorado, United States, with Walter Röhrl behind the wheel.