Audi Promises to Make Four-Wheel-Drive Cars Eco-Friendly
As 4x4 vehicles have become more popular in recent years, many drivers will be aware that owning a vehicle designed for off-road use is not necessarily the most efficient or affordable option available.
Audi is looking to change this state of affairs through the introduction of so-called ‘Ultra Technology’ to its own Quattro all-wheel-drive system. And the German automaker believes that it will both be able to increase the miles per gallon which can be achieved with this type of set-up while also reducing the harmful emissions that are produced.
This could be a key part of the firm’s strategy to revive confidence in its brand following the VW Group emissions scandal in which it was unavoidably embroiled. It could also pave the way for cleaner, greener SUVs and 4x4s from other manufacturers in the future.
The first Audi to feature this new technology will arrive in mid-2016, with Quattro models across the A4, A6 and A8 ranges all set to benefit from it in the long term. Audi’s SUVs, including the Q5 and Q7, will also be getting next-generation 4x4 capabilities, which certainly makes sense.
The amount of torque that an engine offers will determine whether or not the Ultra Technology system can be added, so Audis with a V6 engine or greater will not be compatible and will instead feature the older Quattro set-up, according to Auto Express.
The reduction in emissions and improvements in fuel efficiency are achieved thanks to a dual-clutch set-up, which allows power to be delivered only to the front wheels during normal use. When onboard sensors detect that full 4x4 mode should be enabled, it will kick in automatically.
This extra traction can be provided in a fraction of a second, and Audi engineers argue that the car will in effect be able to foresee when a slip might occur and take action ahead of time to prevent it.
As a result, owners will still get the impressive performance and lack of wheel spin when accelerating hard, but for more sedate driving conditions the car will be less of a drain on resources.
While the new transmission set-up which facilitates the adaptive all-wheel-drive developed by Audi is more complicated than older Quattro set-ups, the company points out that it is also a little bit lighter. So it should not have a negative impact on performance and could ultimately lead to quicker 0-62mph speeds.
The system is all controlled by software and a dedicated processor which will learn about the driving habits of particular users over time. This will help it to make better calculations about when to provide power to all of the wheels while also improving safety in slippery conditions.
The real-world fuel savings and emissions reductions which are possible as a result of Audi’s Ultra Technology have yet to be confirmed. But testing suggests that CO2 output is reduced by 7g per kilometre travelled, with around 300ml less fuel used over this distance.
Early reports suggest that drivers will be incapable of telling the difference between an Audi with Ultra Technology on board and one with the standard Quattro set-up.
The Audi A4 Allroad is set to arrive in the summer, and it will be the first of the firm’s cars to offer Ultra Technology as part of its Quattro capabilities. More models with the system on board will not be arriving until next year, and Audi is promising that the difference in price should be negligible, meaning that buyers who were going to opt for a Quattro model anyway will not be put off because of the added expense.
So it seems that the best way to make a 4x4 car more efficient is to make it possible for the all-wheel-drive capabilities to be disabled until required