Audi’s Quattro GmbH Division Excited About SUVs and EVs
In his previous role at Audi, Heinz Hollerwegers job was to come up with ideas and concepts that ventured far into the future. Since 2014, however, he has served as head of Audis Quattro GmbH performance division—a job that might seem more narrow, but one which actually holds fascinating challenges and opportunities of its own. We spoke with Hollerweger at the launch of the second-generation R8. At the Estoril racetrack, in surroundings created to simulate a racing event, the Austrian engineer spoke about his vision for Quattro. The high-performance sub-brand should be defined by the transformation of racing technology onto the street, he said, which means “superior powertrain technology, aerodynamics, and lightweight materials.” And, more important than sheer power, “aggressive acceleration from take-off.” The newest R8 race car is a prime example of Hollerwegers strategy: It shares 50 percent of its parts with the series-production car. “Our street cars should have race-car performance,” he said. And thats one of the reasons why Audi no longer offers a manual transmission on the R8: Audis DL800 dual-clutch automatic performs better. While BMW and Mercedes-Benz play up the M GmbH and AMG connections of their less powerful M Performance and AMG Sport bridge models, Hollerweger is not interested in taking control of Audis S lineup. “They are not so near our RS models,” he said. “Quattro is the very top and a class of its own, derived from racing.” But that doesnt mean Quattro isnt open to new technologies. Hollerweger is excited about the fully electric R8 e-tron, which will be powered by two motors that allow for precisely metered torque-vectoring functionality. Electrification of further models is an option down the road, Hollerweger said, but not for the imminent future. And what about SUVs? The companys experience with the 340-hp RS Q3 has been so positive that further models are a distinct possibility. Think RS Q6 and perhaps RS Q8.