Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is one of the most famous — if not the very most famous — all-wheel drive system on the market. Not only that but it’s one of the best. It’s also quite unique in its setup and seems to work flawlessly in nearly all situations. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely unflappable, as there are some (very few) situations where it can be caught out. Though, even still, a Quattro-equipped Audi can make it through almost anything, as evidenced by this video of a first-gen Audi S3.
In this video, we get to see the Quattro system of a first-gen Audi S3 tested down to individual wheels. So it gets put through five different “4×4 Intelligence” tests. The tests are conducted by placing rollers underneath certain wheels, to remove their traction. It’s then timed to see how long it takes for the Quattro all-wheel drive system to shunt power to the wheels with traction on the ground and pull/push the car off its rollers.
First, it starts off with just its front wheels on rollers and it only takes 2.19 seconds for the rear wheels to get enough power to push the S3 off of its front rollers. The rollers are then put under the rear wheels and it only takes 1.06 seconds for the fronts to pull it off (phrasing).
After that, subsequent tests put the rollers on just the driver-side wheels, just the passenger-side wheels and then on three of the four wheels. That last test tries to see if it can shunt enough power to just one wheel (and multiple individual wheels are tested for this) to get the car off of its rollers.
What’s interesting about this is that the Audi S3 doesn’t use proper Quattro. The first-gen S3, being based on the MkIV Volkswagen Golf, uses a transverse engine setup with a Haldex-based all-wheel drive system. So it’s primarily front-wheel drive (hence why the front wheels were the fastest at pulling the car off its rollers) with a clutch pack that can distribute torque to the rear axle when needed.
Proper Quattro uses a longitudinal engine layout, with the engine and transmission in a straight line, and a center crown Torsen (torque-sensing) differential mounted to the back of the transmission. Power is sent through the transmission into the Torsen diff. That diff then distributes power to the front and rear driveshafts, to power each axle. The torque split is 60/40, rear/front, under normal circumstances. But being a Torsen diff, when one axle slips, the diff sends power to the other axle almost instantaneously.
Still, even though the Audi S3 in this video uses a Haldex all-wheel drive setup, it works quite well and is capable of sends a surprising amount power to even single wheels. So if you have an all-wheel drive-equipped Audi (especially proper Quattro), there’s a good chance you’re not getting stuck.