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Four years ago, Audi put a trendsetter on the road with the Q2, and it was a huge success. Now the compact SUV is showcasing its progressive character even more clearly – with an even more striking profile with new headlights on the outside and additional Audi connect services and driver assist systems on the inside. The Audi Q2 is a real eye-catcher – and now it is even more fun to drive.


For four decades, Audi has been setting the pace with permanent quattro all-wheel drive and thus initiated a paradigm shift in powertrain technology in the automotive world and in motorsport. The brand is now using the knowledge it has accumulated in this area since 1980 for the next step. The electric quattro in the models of the e-tronrange marks Audi’s next milestone achievement in the age of electric mobility. Enjoyable driving and efficiency are fused into a total package.

Audi combines quattro and e-tron into a powerful combination of high performance and notable economy. The company mass-produces an all-wheel drive system that is highly variable, dynamic and precise while making efficient use of the available energy.

Why does Audi use electric all-wheel drive?

“For us, the electric quattro is the perfect combination of powerful performance and high efficiency,” says Michael Wein, Project Leader All-Wheel Drive Control Systems. “We combine the efficiency advantages of a driven axle with the traction and dynamic performance of an all-wheel drive system.” 

In the current e-tron model range, only the rear wheels propel the car in good traction conditions, while the motor for the front-wheel drive concurrently runs without being energized. Since the motor is an asynchronous type, there are no inherent electrical drag losses, so that this drive layout consumes a correspondingly low amount of energy. The front axle – within milliseconds and unnoticeably for the driver – is additionally activated only as needed – for instance, when there is a demand for high driving dynamics, high torque transfer, or in the case of a low coefficient of friction due to wetness, mud or snow.

What is so unique about electric quattro drive compared to competitors?

Audi is the first manufacturer to enable highly variable torque distribution in the e-tron S due to the drive topology featuring one motor at the front axle and two electric motors installed in a housing on the rear axle. In combination with sophisticated control and regulation, the electric quattro, due to its single-axle operation with variable, unnoticeably additional activation of the front axle, resolves the conflicting aims of dynamic performance and efficiency. 

Audi integrates functions such as electric torque vectoring on the rear axle, wheel-selective torque control due to a braking intervention with the mechanical differential, and high recuperation performance in an electric powertrain. Additionally, drivers can adjust the high variability of the system to their personal preferences by individual program selections.

When do e-tron and e-tron S models activate their electric all-wheel drive?

The electric all-wheel drive is active in situations of degrading grip on road surfaces with low coefficients of friction, in particularly dynamic driving conditions, when the driver demands high traction power, or when maximum recuperation is desired – in other words, the recovery of energy during braking and deceleration. If the driver decelerates the car to a level of 0.3 g, the electric motors act as generators, using the car’s kinetic energy and converting it into electrical energy which, in turn, charges the battery. This applies to more than 90 percent of all braking maneuvers in everyday driving situations. Only when stronger pedal pressure is applied, the system additionally and seamlessly activates the hydraulic wheel brakes. For instance, in a braking event at 100 km/h, the e-tron S can recover kinetic energy with output of up to 270 kW, compared to 250 kW in the Formula E electric racing series. If the driver demands full power while accelerating, the e-tron S models provide a total boost of 370 kW and torque of 973 Nm. Whether in drive or recuperation mode: interconnected control models always select the best torque distribution.

What opportunities does electric quattro open up compared to conventional all-wheel drive?

In the Audi e-tron models, one electric motor each drives the front and rear axle. By contrast, the e-tron S versions use one motor on the front axle and two on the rear axle. With electric torque vectoring – in other words, specific torque development left and right – the e-tron S provides quattro drive on the rear axle with even greater agility.

The key advantage: Without a mechanical connection between the two electric motors on the rear axle, the functions of a controlled transverse differential lock and thus the functions of a sport differential have been achieved within a single system purely by means of software-based activation. 

Consequently, thanks to intelligent drive control, Audi has implemented active and fully variable torque distribution in transverse direction on the rear axle.

How did Audi achieve this high variability in the electric drive system?

Audi combines an electric powertrain architecture – a novelty in high-volume production – with sophisticated control units in which all the key software components and their network integration have been developed in-house.

Compared to a mechanical all-wheel drive, this results in a fast-response drive system. For instance, latency in the case of electric torque vectoring – in other words, the time gap between the sensor measurement and active torque distribution – amounts to just 30 milliseconds. This is merely around a fourth of the response time of a mechanical system. In addition, electric drives provide clearly higher torque levels. Up to 220 Nm more torque can be allocated to the outside wheel in a cornering situation which, due to the transfer ratio, equates to as much as 2,100 Nm per wheel. This is how the drive system generates the desired yaw moment in cornering: The car correspondingly rotates around the vertical axis in the cornering direction and thus feels particularly agile.

When the coefficient of friction on snow or ice is low, traction can be optimized with great precision as well: The respective friction coefficient of the driven wheels is measured and, due to the torque allocation, used in an ideal way, thus enhancing overall traction.

How is this precision control achieved?

Intelligent interlinking is the prerequisite for this software function. The drive control unit (DCU) distributes torque between the electric motors. The best possible energy conversion efficiency is decisive for optimizing efficiency. The integrating control unit of the Electronic Chassis Platform (ECP) uses sensor signals to monitor the car’s driving condition and calculates the ideal distribution of longitudinal and lateral torque. It integrates the vehicle dynamics control of the quattro, in other words, electric torque vectoring as well as wheel-selective torque control via the braking intervention on the front axle.

At the dynamic limit, on the e-tron S, the wheel brake slightly decelerates the inside front wheel in cornering and on the e-tron, the front and rear wheels. Thus, via the effect of the mechanical axle differential, more torque is distributed to the outside and the car follows the steering command in the cornering direction with particular agility. The traction control system (TCR) acts at one-millisecond intervals. This is achieved because individual functional components of the electronic stability control (ESC) have been shifted into power electronics directly on the electric motors. 

Can the driver influence the characteristics of the electric quattro?

Drivers can adapt the electric quattro as desired via two controllers. The Audi drive select system, which is standard equipment for the e-tron models, offers seven profiles: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, individual, allroad and offroad. Thus, among other things, the electric all-wheel drive as well as the suspension and other systems can be adapted to the road conditions and personal preferences. 

The electronic stability control (ESC) system contains four programs: Normal, Sport, Offroad and Off. In offroad conditions, it optimizes stability, traction and brake control, and activates the standard hill descent control system. In addition, drivers can select three levels of deceleration recuperation: In level 0, the car coasts, in level 1, the car slightly decelerates. In level 2, which has a deceleration range of up to 0.13 g and recuperates the largest amount of energy, drivers experience a strong one-pedal feel. In manual mode, the car retains the previously selected recuperation level.

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How do you provide a large SUV with sporty road-holding properties and minimal body roll without impairing ride comfort? Audi has resolved this conflict of objectives by means of electromechanical roll stabilization (eAWS). Assisted by the 48-volt onboard electrical system and powerful actuators, the stabilizers on the front and rear axle can be actively controlled according to the driving situation.

As a result, the models retain their high level of ride comfort in straight-line driving. By contrast, in cornering and load alteration situations, they impress with enhanced lateral dynamics combined with minimal body roll. The technical advantages of Audi’s electromechanical solution: it is energy-efficient, operates in near-real-time and is maintenance-free due to the absence of hydraulic elements.

What challenges do large SUV models pose to chassis engineers?

Customers of large SUV models are thrilled by the many practical talents they offer – from ample space in the cabin to cutting-edge chassis technologies to powerful engines and advanced control and assistance systems. 

Plus, an SUV delivers superb off-road performance. Due to their design, these vehicles feature a higher curb weight and a higher center of gravity. This means that the body of an SUV leans more toward the outside in cornering than it does on models with a lower center of gravity.

What technology counteracts body roll and body movements?

In cornering, the body leans toward the outside due to the centrifugal forces, in other words, the wheel on the outside of the corner goes into jounce travel while the one on the inside of the corner goes into rebound – the vehicle rolls around its longitudinal axis. Torsionally flexible anti-roll bars between the left- and the right-hand side of the axle are proven means of compensating for this effect. They reduce the body’s tendency to roll by applying reverse torsion torque to the suspension on the outside and inside of the corner, thus counteracting the body’s tendency to roll. This passive suspension component has the same effect in both cornering and straight-line driving. However, an effect that is desirable in cornering may impair ride comfort in straight-line driving on roads with bumps or potholes on one side of the surface. 

While passive solutions reach their limits here, Audi has resolved this conflict of objectives by means of electromechanical roll stabilization. Using sensors to capture and detect the situation, the system will intervene with pinpoint precision only when less body roll is desired. Thus, the spring rate of the stabilizers on uneven and straight roads is lowered to a basic level and the spring and damper forces act by and large independently on the left- and right-hand wheels.

How does electromechanical roll stabilization work?

A conventional stabilizer operates passively, in other words, it just balances the suspension movements on both sides by means of mechanical coupling. By contrast, electromechanical roll stabilization can be specifically controlled. The system consists of two stabilizer halves per axle, with an electric motor operating between them on both the front and rear axle. It can rotate the stabilizer halves in opposite direction of each other and thus generate torque that counteracts body roll torque – individually for each wheel. As a result, it reduces the body roll angles and actively supports them against the physical effects of the driving situation. 

The system receives its commands via control units on the front and rear axle, which are part of the Electronic Chassis Platform (ECP). The ECP is the central brain of the chassis. Within milliseconds, it matches a variety of parameters such as speed, ride height, roll and pitch movements of the car, the friction coefficient of the road surface, the current driving condition such as under- or over-steer, plus the data of the chassis systems involved. From this input, the system calculates the ideal responses for the integrated components and adjusts them quickly and precisely to each other. 

The required electrical energy is supplied to the eAWS by a powerful 48-volt onboard electrical system. Within milliseconds, the system calculates suitable actuation values for the stabilizers. The electric motors deliver their power output via three-stage planetary gearboxes, with torque levels of up to 1,200 Nm being generated at the stabilizers.

What is “Vorsprung durch Technik” in the case of an electromechanical solution?

The 48-volt system enables an immediate system response even at low speeds. Latency between the sensors detecting body roll and the response by the electric motors is just a few milliseconds. 

Unlike hydraulic solutions, the eco-friendly electromechanical system does not require oil circuits and is maintenance-free. It is even able to recuperate energy by capturing suspension impulses on its electric motor, converts them into electrical energy and stores it in the lithium-ion battery of the onboard electrical system. The electromechanical solution uses energy more efficiently as well. In contrast to hydraulic circuits, it does not have to store and provide pressure.

How does the driver benefit from the system?

The system reduces the body’s tendency to roll, provides a sportier and more confident handling impression and thus emphasizes the versatile character of the large Q model ranges. It can actively distribute roll torque to the front and rear wheels and thus influence the car’s intrinsic steering characteristics such as the tendency to under- or oversteer. The Audi drive select driving dynamics system offers various setup options for this. Electromechanically active roll stabilization imparts to the driver a dynamic and precise feel in any situation and enables enhanced handling characteristics. It is one of various systems that perfect the dynamism of the top-end models of the Q range. 

The Q7*, SQ7*, SQ8* and RS Q8* models with their controllable stabilizers always respond to the driving situation precisely as expected by the driver. On uneven road surfaces, the body movements are reduced while ride comfort increases. In sporty driving and at high cornering speeds, the car feels more stable and at ease. It pushes itself into a bend in the road. Audi has deliberately selected a setup that does not completely neutralize the roll angle but continues to impart an authentic feel of the driving dynamics situation.

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A good 20 years ago, Audi opened up the sporty premium compact market segment with the first S3. Now the brand is presenting the new generation – an S3 Sportback and an S3 Sedan. Its 2.0 TFSI engine produces 228 kW (310 PS) of power and 400 Nm (295.0 lb-ft) of torque. Both models (S3 Sportback: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.4 (31.8 US mpg); Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 170–169 (273.6–272.0 g/mi); S3 Sedan: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.3–7.2 (32.2–32.7 US mpg); Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 166–165 (267.2–265.5 g/mi)) accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.8 seconds. A seven-speed S tronic, the quattro drive with intelligent control, and an S-specific sport suspension with optional damper control deliver the power to the road effortlessly. A number of other new features – including the operating concept, infotainment, and assist systems – round off the high-tech character of the S3 models.


Characteristic design and lighting

The new S3 models3 display their dynamic character from the very first glance. The front is dominated by the Singleframe with its large rhombus-patterned grille and impressive air inlets, while the housings of the exterior mirrors have a gleaming aluminum look. The shoulder of the body extends in a strong line from the headlights to the rear lights. The areas below are curved inward – a new element of Audi’s design that places a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches. 

The new S3 Sportback4 and the S3 Sedan5 can be fitted with matrix LED headlights on request. Their digital daytime running lights consist of a pixel array made up of 15 LED segments, ten of which form two vertical lines. At the rear end, the large diffuser and the four exhaust tailpipes accentuate the sporty look. 

Powerful drive

With 228 kW (310 PS) of power and 400 Nm (295.0 lb-ft) of torque, the new S3 models3 are powered by the 2.0 TFSI engine3. High-tech features like the Audi valvelift system (AVS) – which adjusts the lift of the intake valves as required – mean that the combustion chambers are well filled, while thermal management helps to ensure high efficiency. Both models3 accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.8 seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph). The driver can use the standard series Audi drive select system to make the sound of the powerful four-cylinder turbo engine even crisper.

The seven-speed S tronic with lightning-fast gear shifts and freewheeling function and the quattro all-wheel drive deliver the torque to the road. The hydraulic multi-plate clutch in front of the rear axle is fully variable and moves between the front and the back as required, combining dynamic performance with stability and efficiency. It is managed by the modular dynamic handling control – a new system that closely links the quattro drive to the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) and the controlled dampers that are available optionally. 

Dynamic suspension

With its four-link rear axle and progressive steering, the standard suspension offers everything that is required for pleasurable driving. It lowers the body by 15 millimeters (0.6 in). Audi can also install the series S sport suspension with damper control on request. Valves control the oil flow in the dampers so that they adapt to the condition of the road, the driving situation, and the driver’s requests in an individual and ongoing in a few thousandths of a second. The spread between comfort and dynamism is even wider than for the predecessor model. 

The new electric brake booster ensures strong and spontaneous deceleration. All four brake disks are internally ventilated. The brake calipers come in black as standard, with red offered as an option. The S3 models3 come with 18-inch wheels as standard, with 19-inch wheels available optionally.

Generous space concept

Compared with their predecessors, the new S3 models3 have grown in size: The Sportback4 and the Sedan5 are three centimeters (1.2 in) and four centimeters (1.6 in) longer respectively, while both models are three centimeters (1.2 in)wider. 

The five-door car is now 4.34 meters (14.2 ft) in length, while the four-door is 4.50 meters (14.8 ft) long. Other than minimal differences, the two body variants are identical in terms of width (1.82 m (6.0 ft)), height (1.43 m (4.7 ft)) and wheelbase (2.64 m (8.7 ft)). The interior offers greater shoulder room and elbow room. The luggage compartment of the S3 Sportback4 holds between 325 and 1,145 liters (11.5–40.4 cu ft) depending on the position of the rear bench seat, while the Sedan5 has a capacity of 370 liters (13.1 cu ft)

Sporty interior 

The strikingly sporty design of the new S3 models3 continues on the inside – with the new, compact shifter for the seven-speed S tronic and decorative aluminum or carbon inlays whose design evokes the cut of the headlights. The cockpit is focused on the driver. The distinctive air vents form a single unit with the instrument cover, underlining the sporty character. A 10.25-inch digital display is offered as standard. Alternatively, the Audi virtual cockpit and its “plus” version can be selected. Both have a 12.3-inch diagonal, with the latter also offering three different screens. The optional ambient lighting package plus delivers targeted lighting effects in the dark. The sport seats have been newly developed, and their standard series upholstery is largely made from recycled PET bottles, accentuated by stylish contrasting stitching.

In the middle of the instrument panel is a 10.1-inch touch display embedded in a large black panel. It recognizes letters entered by hand and provides acoustic feedback. As an additional operating level, the infotainment can also be voice-controlled using natural language as standard. Audi also supplies a head-up display as an option. 

A new generation of infotainment 

The MMI operating concept of the new S3 models3 is powered by the third generation modular infotainment platform (MIB 3). Its computing power is ten times higher than that of its predecessor, it performs all tasks relating to connectivity with LTE Advanced speed, and it has an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot. Route guidance is flexible and accurate. Navigation offers predictions on the development of the traffic situation, high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth, and information about the traffic flow. Individual settings, such as frequently selected destinations or air conditioning preferences, can be stored in up to six user profiles. 

The Audi connect online services also include car-to-X services, which help with finding available parking spots on the roadside or allow the driver to surf the green wave by communicating with traffic lights in cities like Düsseldorf and Ingolstadt. Connectivity between the new Audi S33 and the user’s smartphone is free of charge via the myAudi app, as well as via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the Audi phone box – which links the device to the vehicle’s antenna and charges it inductively. 

Another feature is the Audi connect key, which authorizes the customer to lock and unlock the car and start the engine via their Android smartphone. For HiFi fans, the Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 3D sound delivers a particularly spatial soundscape.

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