2009 Audi A4 3.2 quattro
2009 Audi A4 3.2 quattro. Click image to enlarge

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2009 Audi A4

For many people, the decision to buy an Audi is a decision to buy an all-wheel drive vehicle, and the trademarked term “quattro” is generic for their all-wheel drive (AWD) system. Audi does make a few front-wheel drive vehicles, but it’s true, AWD is the company’s bread and butter.

The quattro AWD system as found on the A4 3.2 features a centre differential (called a Torsen, or “torque sensing” differential) that distributes torque between the front and the rear when slippage is detected at one or more of the wheels.

The system also features Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) to distribute power from side-to-side, but this is achieved by applying braking to the slipping wheel so that power is transmitted to the wheel with better traction. The EDL technology is part of the Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) and traction control that’s standard on the A4.

The latest version of Audi’s ESP (ESP 8.0) also features a function that dries the brakes in adverse weather conditions. It wipes water off the brake rotors by very gently applying the brakes at regular intervals, and Audi claims this feature will reduce the stopping distance in wet weather compared with a conventional system.

2009 Audi A4 3.2 quattro
2009 Audi A4 3.2 quattro. Click image to enlarge

My experience so far is that the A4’s brakes bring the car down from speed with such authority that it takes a little getting used to (I don’t know whether the brake drying technology is at work here or not, but on wet or dry pavement, the Audi’s brakes can sure stop it in a hurry). And when you’re ready to go again, the quattro system is known for its surefootedness on any road surface.

The quattro all-wheel drive system is always on, and there are no driver inputs required of the driver. You just turn the key and go (well, actually you don’t… you press a button and go, with the key in your pocket).

Unfortunately, typical winter conditions in Ottawa have deserted us to be replaced by mild temperatures and clear roads. So we can’t really get the full benefit of quattro all-wheel drive as experienced in severe winter conditions, and in fact, as March winds down, large amounts of rain are anticipating April showers.

Not that you don’t appreciate quattro in rain, because when cornering at speed on slick, wet roads, the A4 is rock-solid, and feels stable and planted.

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