When it introduced the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system in the Ur-quattro at the Geneva show back in 1980, even Audi wouldn’t have imagined how successful this modest technology will go on to be. Now, three decades and a half later, the German brand’s proprietary all-paw drive setup is available in more than 100 model versions, and has reached a major milestone, with the eight-millionth such drivetrain rolling off the assembly line.

The landmark car to have received the eight-millionth Quattro system is a Q5 SUV finished in Garnet Red and built in Audi’s new production facility in San José Chiapa, Mexico. The second generation of the mid-size SUV gets the latest variant of the quattro system that features what Audi calls the Ultra technology. Designed for models with a longitudinally mounted engine, this system uses an actively controlled multi-plate clutch at the end of the transmission which doles out the torque between the drive axles. When the system gauges that all-wheel drive does not offer any advantage in a particular situation, a decoupler in the rear axle differential opens both clutches, disengaging parts of the rear drivetrain responsible for drag. And If the system detects the inside wheel losing grip, it shifts to all-wheel drive. Ingolstadt claims this new setup enhances efficiency considerably without affecting traction or driving dynamics.

The quattro all-wheel drive system is now standard in the Q7, the A4 Allroad quattro, the A6 Allroad quattro, the A8, the R8 and all S and RS models. It’s also available as an option in all other model series. The carmaker says in 2015, up to 44 per cent of all its customers globally chose models with quattro drive, with particularly strong sales in the Middle East.