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Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD Beats Audi’s Quattro By Offering 4 AWD Systems

Subaru’s all-wheel-drive lineup is dominating today beating much larger Audi. Why do they offer four different systems?

Subaru created a niche brand of all-wheel-drive cars nearly 50 years ago they are still dominating today. According to figures from Subaru, the Japanese automaker is the #1 producer of all-wheel-drive vehicles on the planet beating out much larger Audi for the top spot. In fiscal year April 2015 to April 2016, tiny Subaru sold 965,892 all-wheel-drive vehicles, which represented 15.3 percent of the global market. Auto giant Audi, sold 720,510 all-wheel-drive Quattro units around the world.

Subaru is the only automaker with four AWD systems

Subaru offers four different all-wheel-drive systems in their current stable of vehicles, and it’s why they are dominating AWD sales around the globe. Their AWD vehicles include the 2018 Outback wagon, Forester SUV, Crosstrek crossover, Impreza compact, WRX and WRX STI performance sedans and Legacy sedan. Subaru’s rear-drive BRZ sports coupe is the only model without it.

Why does Subaru offers four different all-wheel-drive systems?

Subaru doesn't have a “one type fits all” approach with their multi-purpose vehicles. They all come standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, but each vehicle gets a “tailored” version of Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive to fit a particular powertrain or model.

Subaru also doesn’t adapt all-wheel-drive components to a front or rear-wheel drive vehicle, they develop all their multi-use vehicles around Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Many automakers do adapt their AWD system to fit a front-drive configuration and thus they function passively, transferring torque away from the main drive wheels only when they slip. The competition equipped with such systems essentially operate in two-wheel drive when there is no slippage. They can be better than front-drive car, but don’t provide the “full-time” benefits and road handling ability that a true full-time All-Wheel Drive system like Subaru’s does.

subaru symmetrical awd

All versions of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive distribute torque to all four wheels all the time, and each is tailored to the specific vehicles engine, suspension and transmission. Each reduces the load on each wheel and reducing and even helping to prevent tire slip, especially on slippery or loose surfaces.

Subaru's 4 AWD versions and which vehicle it’s tailored to

1. Viscous Coupling Center Differential AWD. This system is used for the Impreza, WRX, Crosstrek and Forester equipped with manual transmissions, excluding the WRX STI.

2. Active Torque Split AWD. This system is used in the Subaru Legacy and Outback models (excluding WRX) equipped with the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

3. Variable Torque Distribution AWD. This system is exclusive to the WRX with the Sport Lineartronic CVT. This AWD system delivers sportier performance and superior efficiency all at once.

4. Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) AWD. The Subaru WRX STI features this ultimate in high-performance AWD system that is completely unique in the industry.

Subaru uses four versions of Symmetrical AWD for their all-wheel-drive 2018 Outback wagon, Forester SUV, Crosstrek crossover, Legacy sedan, and WRX/STI performance models. These four AWD versions are what sets Subaru vehicles apart from the competition (Audi Quattro) and why they are the #1 all-wheel-drive automaker in the world.

Watch How Every Single Modern Subaru AWD System Works by Engineering Explained video.

Photo credit: Subaru