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Audi’s Quattro Ultra system to appear on next A6, A7

Ultra combo: Audi’s Quattro Ultra technology will proliferate across the brand’s range and next appear in the new-generation A6 and A7 models.

More models across Audi’s stable to get Quattro Ultra, but not A1, A3, Q3, Q7, Q8

Audi logo12 Jul 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI’S cutting-edge, fuel-saving Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive system – which made its debut on the A4 Allroad and has just arrived in the second-generation Q5 crossover – will migrate to the new-generation A6 sedan and wagon and A7 liftback.

Speaking with journalists at the national media launch of the new Q5, Audi AG head of development of all-wheel-drive systems, Dieter Weidemann, confirmed that the Quattro Ultra technology would not simply proliferate across the brand’s vehicle range and would be limited to certain models.

“This Quattro Ultra system we built for the mid-size engines,” he said. “It is constructed for all variants with a longitudinal engine, so A4, A5, Q5, A6 and A7. It’s in … the next-generation A6 and A7.”

Mr Weidemann said the Quattro Ultra technology took about six years to bring to fruition and that the development team used the permanent all-wheel-drive Quattro with self-locking centre differential as a benchmark.

While the tricked-out rear-drive-decoupling system would make the most sense in a smaller crossover such as the Q3 and Q2, or passenger cars including the A1 and A3, Mr Weidemann said the decision is out of Audi’s hands.

“The transversal engine models, the drivetrain is developed by VW and now they are thinking about it (utilising the Quattro Ultra technology), but there has not been a decision yet,” he said.

“From a technical point of view it would be possible to adopt it to a transversal (engine), but as far as I know, there is not a decision made yet.”

Similarly, Mr Weidemann said Quattro Ultra also would not work for anything above the A7, as the system is built to handle engines outputting up to 500Nm of torque and with an S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.

“We have a platform for the Q7, together with the Porsche Cayenne and the VW Touareg, and this platform, we only have the eight-speed automatic gearbox,” he said.

“So the tunnel of the body of the Q7 was made for the tiptronic eight-speed gearbox and not for the S tronic.”

Audi’s incoming Q8 SUV will share its underpinnings with the already released Q7, which means the flagship crossover will feature the self-locking centre differential Quattro system with the option of a sports differential and an eight-speed tiptronic transmission.

When asked if the Quattro Ultra system could be developed in reverse, to decouple the front axle and send power exclusively to the rear for a sports application, Mr Weidemann said the technology was developed, but deemed ultimately impractical.

“We built up demo cars with that (front-axle decoupling), we had a deep look on that, but there are several reasons why we did not do that,” he said. “The main reason was the driving dynamic is better in our cars with direct drive through to the front wheels and a hang-on clutch to the rear wheels … because you have less initial understeer.

“We made a lot of testings in our winter test centre with these two concept cars and it was absolutely clear that in an Audi it fits better to our perspective of driving dynamics with the direct drive through the front wheels.

“The next reason is you have more efficiency benefits if you have direct drive through the front wheels because if you are driving in front-wheel-drive mode, it’s all very compact and very efficient.”

While BMW’s incoming M5, the new Mercedes-AMG E63 S and the Ford Focus RS all feature settings that allow more power to be sent to the rear wheels for a ‘drift mode’, Mr Weidemann said such a setting is not within Audi’s thinking.

“We are developing our Quattro system for the normal customer on the normal street, and of course, if a customer is going to a racetrack it should be very fast, but it must not be a drift mode,” he said.

“It’s really obvious that if you have a rear-wheel-driven basis and a hang-on clutch to the front wheels, you have more understeer in initial turn in.

“So we want to have really high cornering speed, we want an easy-to-handle car, so even a normal customer can use as much of the potential of the car. We don’t want the car to do any strange behaviours or the driver is maybe not able to handle it, so it must be fast and easy to handle.”

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