- Lighter Quattro system is no longer permanently engaged
- Electronics determine when rear wheels are needed
- Quattro Ultra system promises to lower running costs
Audi’s much-vaunted Quattro four-wheel drive system has been known as a watchword for safety in slippery conditions for approaching forty years, but the extra weight of the drivetrain, plus its inherent efficiency drop compared with front-wheel drive models, has limited its appeal with company car drivers.
That could be set to change with this, the new Audi A4 Allroad, which is available to order from the end of April 2016 with first deliveries beginning in June.
What’s different about this Quattro?
You’ve not missed anything: the second generation A4 Allroad – essentially a more rugged version of the popular Audi A4 Avant – retains the Quattro-only mantra of its predecessor, but it employs the German firm’s ‘Ultra’ technology, hitherto restricted to its super-efficient TDI diesel models.
Not only is the new Quattro Ultra system 4kg lighter than its previous iteration, it’s also designed to work much more efficiently, although Audi’s yet to reveal precisely how significant those fuel consumption and CO2 emission gains are.
Rather than being a permanent four-wheel drive system, the Quattro Ultra’s operation is ‘permanently available’ – in other words, unless the additional grip of rear-wheel traction’s deemed necessary, the latest A4 Allroad will merrily go about its business as a front-wheel drive car, running more efficiently as a result.
Three-stage strategy boosts efficiency
Activation of the Audi A4 Allroad’s four-wheel drive system happens automatically, with sensors measuring the cars’ parameters every ten milliseconds to determine when to switch it on and off.
The Proactive element of the system takes measurements and pre-empts whether or not to engage the Quattro system, such as if it detects the front wheels may be on the brink of losing adhesion through a quick corner.
The Predictive part learns the driver’s behaviour and anticipates whether the rear wheels will need to be engaged based upon what it previously observed and how frequently the stability control software is called upon.
Reactive is the final element and is the one which is used the least, delivering drive to all four-wheels when the system would have no way of knowing what was coming, such as a sudden and immediate transition from a conventional road surface to slippery ice.
Four engine range for A4 Allroad
Parkers will be reviewing the new Audi A4 Allroad in the near future, sampling its 2-litre TFSI petrol engine as well as a 2-litre and a pair of 3-litre TDI diesels.
How effective and efficient its Quattro Ultra system really is will then be put to the test.
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