When Audi debuted its quattro all-wheel drive system in the 1980 Quattro rally car, it dominated the racetrack and icy conditions in the Alps, gripping the road and track with precision at every turn. Today, the quattro system is found in various types of Audi models and is not limited to just the racetrack like its early launch. The quattro system offers sports car-like performance and handling with uncompromised all-wheel drive traction. Find out what makes Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system so special.

What quattro is and How It Differs from Other AWD Systems

quattro® is a mechanical system with a self-locking center differential and continuously variable torque distribution. It is a proactive system, which means it distributes torque equally to the axle that has more grip. Drivers cannot notice the instantaneous response to wheel speed differences during this adjustment of power to the wheels with the most traction.  

Traditional all-wheel drive systems, on the other hand, are reactionary systems. This means it waits until poor road conditions are encountered to adjust torque. Because they are not proactive, traditional systems are unable to sense and predict when all-wheel drive might be needed and adjust accordingly.

The quattro system has one center differential mounted in the gearbox. In contrast, traditional transfer boxes have differentials mounted on each driven axle. By allowing a central location inside the gearbox, Audi quattro vehicles are lighter and more nimble. Traditional all-wheel drive vehicles have a bulkier transfer box and weigh more, affecting the ability to corner quickly.

quattro offers drivers several advantages over a traditional all-wheel drive system with driver confidence and active safety. Drivers know that all four wheels will unfailingly provide dependable traction on a variety of driving surfaces:  

  • Windy conditions
  • Winter precipitation (sleet, snow, hail)
  • Rainy weather
  • Dirt and gravel roads

Not all quattros are one-size-fits-all


Most Audi quattro systems are Torsen T1, which means it senses the torque at a 50:50 split. However, Audi tailors each quattro system to a particular vehicle, such as specific versions of quattro for high-performance models, sedans, crossovers, or SUVs. Drivers powering a vehicle with traditional all-wheel drive do not get the advantage of a variable torque split. quattro splits range from 50:50 to 60:40 and even a 15:85 split on the Audi R8 model.

  • Sport differential uses an active rear differential that utilizes rear wheels to help achieve maximum cornering performance when turning the wheels. S and RS models use a sport differential.
  • Available torque vectoring brakes inside wheels in corners and transfers torque to the outside wheels.
  • The Haldex quattro system, found on models like the Audi TT and Audi A3, is used due to engine placement. The front wheels receive the engine’s torque in normal road conditions. The clutch locks when a front axle slip is detected, and all the torque is sent to the back if needed. A variable torque split between the front and rear wheels can deliver power where and when it’s needed most, granting more traction to the wheels with the most grip. Regardless of road conditions, drivers know the quattro evenly distributes power to all wheels no matter what.

Other auto manufacturers have been unable to replicate such advanced technology found in quattro. For unparalleled power distribution, an active commitment to safety, increased driver confidence, and specialized, tailored ratio distribution, Audi quattro truly is an innovative, superior traction control system.

Other auto manufacturers have been unable to replicate such advanced technology found in quattro. For unparalleled power distribution, an active commitment to safety, increased driver confidence, and specialized, tailored ratio distribution, Audi quattro truly is an innovative, superior traction control system.