German manufacturers like Audi hold the consensus gold standard in all-wheel drive systems. Audi in particular has led innovation in all-wheel drive systems since the early 1980s with their famous quattro® system. On the other hand, BMW offers drivers its capable xDrive® system.

But which German manufacturer has the best of the best when it comes to all-wheel drive?

What are the Differences Between Audi quattro® and BMW xDrive®?

Both of these systems offer all-wheel drive, but there are key differences that give each make a unique driving experience.

BMW xDrive®

BMW’s xDrive® is an electronic all-wheel drive system. xDrive® uses a multi-plate clutch system to electronically adjust torque distribution every 0.1 seconds based on current driving conditions.

The biggest difference between xDrive® and quattro® is the axle balance. BMW gives their cars a standard rear-balance BMW feel with 40% of torque in the front axle and 60% in the rear. That distribution is automatically adjusted on the fly as the system detects wheels slipping. The drawback is that this system can also adjust in normal conditions without input from the driver.

BMW X-Drive® is available on most BMW vehicles.

Audi quattro®

Audi quattro® is a mechanical system that offers a more balanced all-wheel drive experience. It features a 50/50 split in torque in stable driving conditions, giving any Audi car equipped with a full all-wheel drive experience, complete with a feeling of balance and superior control.

quattro® uses center Torsen Differential torque sensing to allow all four wheels to spin at different rates depending on road conditions. If one wheel begins to slip, the center differential is locked and torque is transferred to the axle that has better traction. This way, quattro® can quickly shift torque to respond to different levels of traction.

Audi quattro® is standard on the majority of Audi vehicles.


Both systems create superior all-wheel drive experiences, but which comes out on top? Though the speed at which the electronic xDrive® adjusts is appealing, it can lead to unwanted intervention under stable driving conditions.

The Audi quattro® system’s mechanical shift makes it simpler, more reliable system. The balanced approach to all-wheel drive also makes quattro® handle significantly better in more treacherous conditions, such as a snowy road.

Audi quattro® has history on its side.  quattro® has been the leading system in all-wheel drive, and despite recent improvements made to xDrive®, BMW’s system still has a long way to go before they can fully catch up.  

So get the best all-wheel drive system, and take control of the road. Test drive a new Audi quattro® equipped car today at Jack Daniels Audi of Upper Saddle River in New Jersey or contact us at (888) 480-0268.