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Cool aids

Finally got caught up to the traffic, just in time to head off to Steamboat
tomorrow.  Thoroughly enjoying the discussion Matt brought up regarding the
advantages (implied, claimed and tested) of the quattro drivetrain.  Given my
posts in the archives on this exact subject, a heretical brave soul, is still
that.  And Matt's points are well taken.

AWD has advantages, but how high is it?  Well, one could argue that 70+% of
'quattro' owners use the summer wheels as winter wheels.  So that BMW with
Blizzacks or Hakas, just might even have the edge in the nasty stuff.
Traction control and smart ecu's and tires have really given 'quattro' a run
for the money.  And the tests seem to prove this out.  Apples to apples, the
gains are minimal, if a bunch of road test guys can only eek a 1/10th or 2 out
of the quattro over fwd, that should tell us all that maybe quattro might be a
neat toy, but in torsen iteration, maybe the marketing advantages outweigh the
real.  Audi is targeting the 7/10ths market with torsen, not the enthusiast.
Does it work?  Sure, at 7/10ths, where 95% of the drivers "play".  

However, that last 2-3/10ths, the torsen is a beast few want to tame.  BTDT on
just about every torsen chassis audi made (save Dave E's RS2, but been
promised).  This is not just a wet/slick environment problem, this is a
control problem at the limit.  And not a comforting one.  Coming from a
ProRally background, I enjoy driving q's hard, on the track, street, and
snow/ice.  The torsen has bitten my butt more times than ANY other setup, the
VC cars included.  VC goes to a set split when engaged, that IMO, beats a
hunting Torsen any day.  And hunt they do.

I am trying to find some of the offline discussions that a couple of us had
regarding the torsen and why.  If I can find them, will post them up.  But
bottom line is this:  you better be a really good driver to play beyond
7/10ths, cuz 11/10ths comes with little forwarning, and there, you aren't
driving with skill, only instinct.  And lucifer trying to kick you off the log
with a hunting differential.  The weight shift of the bigger cars tends to
exaggerate the hunt, but the small cars have it too.  A small change in input
on the gas or the brakes, has an effect on the torsen split.  Not a great
problem at 7/10ths, a major problem beyond that.  My first experience with it
btw, was with a snow covered road, haka 10's, 70mph and a brand new torsen 88
90q (sideways, with a long slide to recovery).   

Several have pointed out the advantage of awd.  It has them.  I might point
out Dave E, that Walter didn't run torsens.  He ran fixed diff cars in
Rallyes.  The TC A4 had a neat little knobben for diff split.  All the race
cars of the 80's used a fixed split.  And with awd, torsen isn't in the racing
program (center diff).  So, is it good for the street, probably.  Is it better
than the Gen I?  For 7/10ths driving and 95% of the Audi market, yup.  For
those that drive beyond that market?  I'll take Gen I anyday.  Those running
Torsens?  Get a switch to control the rear locker beyond the 15mph, that at
least can help. 

Ice is ice, studs are studs.  I don't see the argument there.  Learn the limit
folks, it should become instinct, not a lesson.  Steamboat is THE spot to do
this, and fun to boot.  Once a year driving at the limit and harmlessly
beyond, helps instinct.  And those of you that haven't yet been bitten by the
Torsen lucifer, will.  And when you do, you want instinct on your side.  

My report of Steamboat will follow next week.  

Scott Justusson
'87 5ktqwRS2
'86 5ktqw
'84 Urq