Audi has been branding its all-wheel drive cars “Quattro” since the ’80s. However, during the ’90s, Audi actually began using two different all-wheel drive systems, for different types of cars, but never changed the name. So every single all-wheel drive Audi says “Quattro” on the back but not all of them actually have proper Quattro all-wheel drive. The other all-wheel drive Audis used what’s called a Haldex system and, in this video from Hagerty’s new show Know it All, we get to learn the difference between the two.
Quattro originated in the ’80s, with the iconic Audi rally racer of the same name. The early versions of Quattro worked a lot like a selectable four-wheel drive system, sort of like a pickup truck’s, just with permanent four-wheel drive. Those cars were very difficult to drive, until Audi began using a Torsen center differential, which helped quite a bit and eventually became a staple of Audi’s performance cars. However, that’s not how every “Quattro” branded Audi works.
In fact, many Audis, such as the A3, TT and Q3, used a Haldex system, identical to their Volkswagen counterparts. Haldex essentially works by taking a front wheel drive car and added an electronic clutch pack to the transmission, which can squeeze some of the power to a driveshaft that sends power to the rear wheels. However, at most, a Haldex system can only ever send 50 percent of the engine’s power to the rear axle. The majority of the time, a Haldex-driven car is 100-percent front-wheel drive, with only a bit of power getting sent to the rear as the computer deems necessary.
So while Audi has made its name with Quattro-drive performance machines, which actually have used and still do use real Torsen-based Quattro, many Audis on sale today use Haldex just like a Volkswagen. So, as Hagerty’s Jason Cammisa notes, don’t listen to what the salesperson at the dealer tells you because they probably don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.