How does the Audi Sport quattro of the 1980s stack up against the current Audi quattro rocket ship with electric drive – Nico Müller hits the famous Col de Turini in search of answers.
12 October, 2021
One of the world’s greatest driving roads and one that has become a legendary part of motorsport history, the Col de Turini in the French Alps is the perfect place to put quattro to the test. An integral part of the Monte Carlo Rally each year, the succession of hairpins climbing up from the valley floor into the mountains attracts drivers from all over the world to test their skills and their cars in top flight competition as well as those just wanting drive this iconic piece of road.
With an elevation of 1607 metres it commands seeping views out over the surrounding valleys for those willing to stop along the way to look, although many are too intent on the road itself to take in the surroundings.
The Col de Turini is also a favourite with cyclists who are attracted to the challenge of the climb, its gradient of up to 7.2 percent in places, testing the strength, endurance and will of the fittest cyclist.
For Audi, with its rich motorsport past, the Col de Turini is a special place and the scene of many triumphant drives during the early days of quattro. The tight, winding roads offering the perfect environment for the revolutionary all-wheel drive system to shine – both then and now.
As part of a special event by Audi, it was the perfect place to bring both new models and those from the brand’s illustrious past to pay homage to the origins of technologies like quattro and to demonstrate how they continued to be refined and developed for the modern day. From the all-conquering Audi Sport quattro, in the hands of none other than Stig Blomqvist, to the all-new Audi RS e-tron GT with its state-of-the-art electric quattro, the technology continues to evolve and impress.
Audi Sport driver, Nico Müller, strapped in beside Blomqvist in the Audi Sport quattro and Formula E champion, Lucas di Grassi in the e-tron GT to experience the evolution of quattro first hand on the famous stretch of road. The mechanical all-wheel drive of the 1980s rally era, and the lightening fast electric system which takes just 30 milliseconds to adjusts the amount of torque applied by the electric motors to each wheel. The advancements in just over 40 years are both remarkable and reassuring – the electric quattro adjusting drive to individual wheels four times faster than in systems with conventional torque vectoring via mechanical connections. And yet, despite the technological differences, the driver-focused essence of quattro remains and is integral to the driving experience of the new RS e-tron GT. The Col de Turini is no less challenging in 2021, but quattro drive is still the best way to enjoy it.
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