Audi Announces New ‘Ultra’ Efficient Quattro All-Wheel-Drive System

Audi Quattro all-wheel drive is evolving.

Essentially, the new Quattro Ultra system will deactivate all-wheel drive when it isn’t needed, but keeps it permanently available. As a result, there’s a reduction in fuel consumption without the downsides of a “slip and grip” system. It’s a bit like Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC system on the CLA 45 AMG.

The German automaker announced Quattro Ultra with the development goal of an all-wheel-drive system that is “optimized for efficiency with no discernible differences to permanent systems with respect to traction and driving dynamics.” In other words, it’s an all-wheel-drive system that remains fuel efficient. According to Audi, equipped test vehicles used an average 0.3 liters per 100 kilometers less fuel compared to conventional all-wheel drive with the tests conducted on a route throughout the Ingolstadt area in normal traffic.

But there’s a catch. Audi says that the all-wheel-drive system is activated before the driver needs it. Every 10 milliseconds, the system acquires and analyzes a wide variety of data like steering angle, lateral and longitudinal acceleration and engine torque. The all-wheel-drive system then follows a three-stage strategy: proactive, predictive and reactive.

This is all made possible thanks to two clutches in the drivetrain. When the system switches over to front-wheel drive, the front clutch disconnects the propshaft. In addition, an integrated decoupler in the rear-axle differential opens to shut down the primary cause of drag loss in the rear section of the drivetrain. The new Quattro drivetrain is also 8.8 pounds lighter than the previous system.

The next-generation Quattro Ultra will debut on the new A4 Allroad Quattro with S tronic in the second quarter of 2016. It will then gradually roll out to additional models with longitudinally mounted front engines and manual or S tronic transmissions.