2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
With the all-wheel drive called Quattro, Audi has laid down a success story. Now the A1 lifestyle small car is also getting four-wheel drive, which means that even snow and ice can no longer harm it.
By Michael Specht
An Eskimo who reads a tire track in the snow. A car going up a ski jump. Images like this are enough to instantly evoke a term that has had an unprecedented career in the automotive industry: "quattro", Audi's all-wheel drive. In the fall, Audi is expanding its Quattro technology downwards, and is also giving its youngest and smallest offspring, the A1, four permanently driven wheels. Whether and how receptive the market is for such a model should first be tried out with a small series of around 500 vehicles. Investments are kept within reasonable limits.
3.7 million Quattros sold since 1980
What began in 1980 with a sporty coupé (Ur-Quattro) and as a niche technology is now under almost every second model with the four rings in the grill. "Of the 1.1 million vehicles delivered last year, 430,000 were Quattro models," says Audi Head of Development Michael Dick. The Ingolstadt-based company has sold 3.7 million Quattros since 1980. The current range currently includes over 120 4x4 variants, which are now joined by the Audi A1 small car.
Two prototypes were available for an initial test - in snow-covered Canada. The engineers are happy about what many drivers find anathema to. "The conditions here are ideal to fully enjoy the performance of the Quattro drive," says chassis developer Dr. Ralf Schwarz. How lightly Audi's Lifestyle Mini can be steered along the white runway can be clearly felt after just a few minutes. Where its front-wheel drive counterpart quickly understeers and pushes to the edge of the bend and can only be kept in lane with skillful steering and braking intervention, the all-wheel-drive version follows its course almost undeterred.
Strength thanks to 2.0 Turbo
The secret to driving fun lies in the way the power is distributed. The heart of the four-wheel drive in the A1 is a hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch with electronic control. It made its debut in the TT and A3 in 1998 and has been continuously refined since then. During normal driving, the clutch sends most of the torque to the front wheels. If these start to spin, the force is directed backwards in a few milliseconds, up to 100 percent depending on the situation.
While the two A1 quattro prototypes are still equipped with the 1.4-liter turbo gasoline engine and not exactly scanty 137 kW / 186 hp, the production version should get considerably more steam. Audi plans to implant the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo known from the A3, A4, A5 and A6. The exact performance is still silent. According to Dick, Head of Development at Audi, it will be “well over 200 hp” and should make the compact power athlete not only 230 km / h fast, but also unique in the small car sector.
Legendary name as a lure
The fact that the Ingolstadt-based company can pay for this exclusivity with around 27,000 euros doesn't require much math. In addition, Audi's smallest Quattro model will be given a legendary name: S1. With that chubby rally quattro, Walter Röhrl thundered towards various victories in the 80s. (mid)
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