The Audi quattro was first unveiled at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show. Audi UK came up with a plan of truly lofty ambitions: to hoist the car 100 feet above the London traffic to the top of Kensington Roof Gardens, where it would be presented to VIPs and members of the press.
The white quattro from the Geneva Motor Show was borrowed from Audi in Germany and, early one Sunday morning, unloaded from the back of a lorry and attached to a crane. The VIP event happened a few days later, and the quattro went down a storm. Sir Stirling Moss was present as he was driving an 80 Saloon for Audi UK in the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) at the time.
And then the Audi quattro rally car arrived. With its combination of all-wheel-drive traction and turbocharged pace, it blew the opposition away and changed the face of the sport forever. In the 1981 RAC Rally, Hannu Mikkola rolled the car on the first night and then tore through the forests to win by 11 minutes! Audi’s quattro technology went on to dominate not just rallying, with four world championship titles, but saloon car racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours race too. And it rapidly cascaded across Audi’s road-car range. Today, from the SQ2 SUV to the R8 supercar, it can be found enhancing safety, grip and traction.
Over four decades, Audi’s engineers have never ceased to take quantum leaps forward with quattro drive. Recent developments have included quattro-on-demand and e-quattro. The quattro-on-demand system, deployed on models such as Audi’s new A6 Saloon TFSI e, switches from all-wheel drive to front-wheel drive to enhance efficiency, and back to all-wheel drive when greater grip and traction are required – all in the blink of an eye. Audi’s e-quattro innovation brings electric all-wheel drive to models such as the e-tron SUV and e-tron Sportback.