With rally legends Stig Blomqvist and Fabrizia Pons, Audi DTM driver Nico Muller explores quattro’s past and future.
In 1980, Audi made a life-changing move for itself by introducing the quattro system to the world. No longer would all-wheel drive be the domain of trucks and agriculture. Now, passenger cars could use all corners to provide greater control on the road. Combined with high-performance, turbocharged engines, the new quattro carved a path for all cars to consider taking going forward.
In 2021, Audi’s quattro is now part of the electrification revolution in the overall auto industry. As a tribute, Audi’s YouTube channel enlisted their DTM driver, Nico Muller, to go back to where it all began: France’s Col de Turini. Of course, he wouldn’t be alone on this journey.
“Beginning of the Eighties, first ’82, you couldn’t believe the difference with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive,” said rally legend Stig Blomqvist. “It was really nice, and the feeling was fantastic. I think Audi has done a good job before they started rallying because they wanted to show the rest of the world what four-wheel drive can do. Everybody was thinking, ‘Okay, it’s another Jeep system.’ But they soon find out it was a lot better than that.”
Blomqvist is one of a few to wield the might of the quattro in the Group B era. Through the ur-Quattro, Audi would not only rack up wins and records, but upend rallying forever with all four of its wheels. And what happens on race day translates to the showroom.
“In a combustion engine car, you have a single motor” said Audi Formula-E champion Lucas di Grassi. “You need a very complicated and sophisticated mechanical distribution with differentials and drive shafts to get this power and torque distributed in the four wheels.”
With the RS e-tron GT, computers and electric motors handle the job. Thus, performance is maximized. Blomqvist says the electric Audi outperforms his Group B terror. That’s certainly saying something.
“We had such a huge passion,” said rally legend Fabrizia Pons. “It didn’t matter at all how many nights we were not sleeping, and we were working, working, working. It’s important, the commitment. It’s important to know the car.”
Pons says her role as half of the first all-women rally duo with Michele Moulton didn’t hit her at first. Only years later did it occur to her how momentous and historic it was. She adds she’s always working toward the future, then and now, an attitude Audi knows well, especially with quattro.