Several performance cars with all-wheel drive have gained a drift mode in recent years, enabling a tail-happy behavior that up until not long ago was only possible with rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Back in 2017, Audi Sport’s head of technical development Stephan Reil (now chief of research and development at Audi AG) spoke against this feature.
Talking to the media, Reil was brutally honest, saying that he doesn’t like them, nor does he see a reason to install such a feature in a vehicle as all it does is destroy the rear tires without making the car any faster. Well, things have changed since then considering the new RS3 Sportback and RS3 Sedan duo features a torque splitter, which comes along with an RS Torque Rear driving mode.
While it’s not called a drift mode, it behaves in a similar manner. Audi explains it “allows the driver to perform controlled drifts on closed roads” by sending up to 100% of available torque to the rear axle. So, why the change of heart? Car Throttle spoke with RS3 chassis development chief Norbert Gößl and he said the torque splitter was not conceived for doing drifts, even though the RS Torque Rear makes it easier for the driver to quickly burn some rubber:
“We have not decided to do this rear axle for the Torque Rear mode. We decided to make the car faster and better [behaved]. [RS Torque Rear] was not the main topic in the development.”
The point of integrating the torque splitter into the RS3’s Quattro AWD system was to get rid of understeer, which is mostly associated with cars based on a front-wheel-drive platform. The system is quite similar to what you’ll find in the latest Volkswagen Golf R, but with different software and additional heat shielding.
Interestingly, Gößl went on to say Audi Sport wanted the RS3 to have first dibs on this feature, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of giving the lesser S3 the torque splitter, saying “We’ll see what happens in the future.”
Source: Car Throttle