Ed speak

Evo - - CONTENTS - Stu­art Gal­lagher, Editor @stu­artg917

MY FIRST ME­MORY OF A FOUR­wheel- drive per­for­mance car is of a Hannu Mikkola- driven Audi Qu­at­tro break­ing up the monotony of Grand­stand’s horserac­ing cov­er­age. The seven-yearold me didn’t re­ally un­der­stand how this bulky coupe could get the bet­ter of the wild Ford Es­cort RS1800 and the ace look­ing Opel As­cona 400.

But by the end of the Swedish round of the 1981 World Rally Cham­pi­onship sea­son Mikkola had claimed the Qu­at­tro’s first WRC vic­tory, and the rest, as they say, is his­tory (and a day lost ‘re­search­ing’ this topic on Youtube).

When it came to per­for­mance road cars and four-wheel drive, Porsche was an early adopter, with the 959 in 1987, the 964-gen­er­a­tion 911 Car­rera 4 in ’89, and the 993-gen 911 Turbo in ’95. Both Ford and Re­nault of­fered four-wheel- drive pow­er­trains, too, on their Sap­phire Cos­worth and 21 Turbo re­spec­tively.

By the time Lam­borgh­ini added an­other pair of drive­shafts to the Di­ablo a lit­tle over a decade af­ter Mikkola’s suc­cess, four-wheel drive was no longer a niche, al­though two-wheel drive was still con­sid­ered the purer choice. An ar­gu­ment that still stands to­day – but only just.

The wide­spread adop­tion of tur­bocharged en­gines and the torque they de­liver is ne­ces­si­tat­ing that more and more per­for­mance cars are equipped with four-wheel- drive trans­mis­sions. Of the six cars fea­tured in this month’s 4WD megat­est, we can think of only one that would work bet­ter as a two-wheel- drive car (the mid- en­gined, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated Aven­ta­dor S).

Be­cause, while the idea of a rear-wheel- drive, 600bhp AMG sa­loon car sounds ap­peal­ing, you try de­ploy­ing 627lb ft of torque through rear wheels alone while still mak­ing for­ward progress.

The ques­tion now is how long be­fore two-wheel- drive per­for­mance cars be­come the niche?

Not for a long time, I hope.

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