BMW’ xDrive AWD vs Audi’s Quattro AWD

Interesting, News | January 20th, 2017 by 9
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It seems as if every car on the market has some sort of all-wheel drive system as an optional extra these days. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was rare to see any all-wheel drive sedans or coupes, if you saw any at all, but now it’s become a normality. So each and every brand has its own all-wheel drive system with its own brand-name for it. Audi was one of the first, if not the first, auto company to really brand its all-wheel drive system and make it a household name — Audi Quattro.

However, various other brands have their own systems that are also quite excellent. BMW, for instance, has been doing all-wheel drive for almost as long as Audi, though its brand-name for it is far newer. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system is the Bavarian brand’s current all-wheel drive system and many enthusiasts will argue that it’s better than Audi’s Quattro and vice versa. So which system is actually better? Let’s find out.

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Car Throttle recently took an extensive look into both systems to see which one is better, Audi’s Quattro or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. It turns out, that there really isn’t an answer. Both systems are so significantly different, which each having its own pros and cons, that they’re actually better than the other at certain things.

For instance, Audi’s Quattro system is a fully mechanical system, with just some stability control interference. It uses a center Torsen (Torque-Sensing) differential, that can “sense” which axle is slipping and then lock the diff to the other axle to create power to the wheels. Once that other axle gains traction, the diff unlocks and reverts back to its normal 50/50 torque split.

This isn’t to be confused with smaller Audis’ Haldex-based all-wheel drive systems. All transverse (sideways) mounted engined Audis, such as the Audi A3 and Q3, actually use a Haldex-based system. This doesn’t use the Torsen diff as the proper Quattro-equipped Audis, even though it says “Quattro” on the back of the cars. Only longitudinal-engined Audis have proper Quattro.

BMW’s xDrive system works quite differently. It uses a multi-plate clutch that can vary torque between the axles. However, under normal driving conditions, the rear axle gets 100 percent of the power, as a BMW should. Even under slipping conditions, BMW’s xDrive is designed to send more power to the rear wheels if possible.

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For performance driving, it’s probably best to go with BMW’s xDrive. Its rear-drive bias makes it sportier and more fun to drive. Plus, because its multi-plate clutch is controlled automatically by the car’s computerized brain, it can actually learn and read situations and make changes accordingly. Audi’s Quattro is spectacular to rally driving and snow driving, but it won’t be fantastic for performance driving on tarmac or high-traction environments, where its front-heavy design will cause a bit of understeer.

All-in-all, it really depends on the situation. If you’re more one for performance driving but want some extra all-weather capability, BMW’s xDrive is probably for you. If you’re looking for some hardcore rally-capable driving, Audi’s Quattro is probably best. However, both systems are superb and both will offer tremendous traction in all weather. It’s just each has its own special skill.

[Source: QuattroDaily]

9 responses to “BMW’ xDrive AWD vs Audi’s Quattro AWD”

  1. JohnS1000RR says:

    Audi Quattro has a default torque split of 40/60 front-rear lol
    Is it normal to not look up facts before posting articles on this site?

  2. Mike Vella says:

    I thought that the BMW system also sends power to all 4 wheels. That’s what it says on the BMW site, a 60/40 split. Though as someone who has owned both kinds of cars, they feel vastly different when pushed or when traction changes are necessary.
    Also, for the new Ultra system – which is only on the Allroad for now – it gets rid of the center diff and can and will also go only FWD:

  3. JRobUSC says:

    My understanding is while xDrive may default to 40/60 front/rear, it can vary that inifinitely from 0/100 to (almost) 100/0, meaning a BMW with xDrive can be rear drive, front drive, or anything in between. Can any Audi do that?

  4. Vitt says:

    Just found this as I am searching for information on the current gen X1 xDrive (considering leasing one). The question is, does the info on this article apply to the new X1 AWD as well, or is that system more front biased because the car is based on a FWD platform? It appears that it is referring to all BMWs other than the X1 and there is no mention of the system on X1, even though they talk about the AWD system on FWD biased Audis like the A3 and Q3.

    • This does not pertain to the X1. As the X1 is FWD-based, it actually uses a Haldex-based all-wheel drive system. So it’s fwd most of the time but can send a lot of power to the rear wheels whenever it needs to and it does so often.

      If you’re wondering whether or not the X1 can handle some bad weather or soft-roaring, it absolutely can. On its press launch I experienced some off-road stuff that really tested the X1 and it handled everything with ease.

      • Vitt says:

        Nico, I was wondering how the handling is actually. I don’t really need AWD in SoCal (but even a diff would be nice on a FWD in the rain). I never owned a heavy car that was FWD before. I think FWD is fine on a lighter, nimble car (GTI for example), but don’t know if I’ll get used to it on a heavier car. I test drove an X1 xDrive today and although I couldn’t push it, it did drive a lot like a car. It didn’t bother me that the front wheels were pulling the SAV along.

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