Modern all-wheel drives have been in use at ŠKODA since the introduction of the Octavia estate 4×4 in 1999 and have enjoyed a large fan base ever since. The current fifth generation of the 4×4 drive technology based on an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch works fully automatically, highly efficiently and extremely economically, coming into its own, especially on wet or snow-covered roads. The variable power distribution between the front and rear axles increases driving safety and driving performance in every season and on any terrain.
From the 1999 market launch of ŠKODA’s first all-wheel-drive model – the Octavia estate 4×4 – to the end of 2019, ŠKODA has delivered more than one million vehicles globally with 4×4 drive. In 2019 alone, ŠKODA AUTO produced more than 157,000 4×4 vehicles in the Octavia, Superb, Karoq and Kodiaq series. Around 60% of all Kodiaq customers opt for the 4×4 variant of the large SUV, a higher percentage than any other ŠKODA model.
Gravel, mud and snow are no longer the sole domain of all-wheel-drive technology; ŠKODA’s modern 4×4 drive also ensures safety on dry asphalt. In terms of traction, driving stability and handling, it is advantageous when not only the front axle but also the rear axle of the vehicle is driven. Under normal driving conditions, only the front wheels are driven. If there is a risk of losing traction, the electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch automatically transfers a percentage of the drive torque to the rear wheels within fractions of a second so that propulsion is maintained. This means that the power always goes where it is needed without the driver needing to step in.
Electronic control interventions within milliseconds
ŠKODA’s all-wheel-drive system is interlinked with the most important assistance systems such as ABS (anti-lock braking system), ESC (electronic stabilisation control), the electronic differential lock EDS and its extension XDS +. As a result, the control electronics can react to changing driving conditions and critical situations within milliseconds, for example, when cornering at high speeds or on surfaces with a different grip. To keep the vehicle safely on track, the electronics also selectively control individual wheels. This is the case when cornering quickly, and the load shifts off the inside wheel, a percentage of the drive torque is transferred to the opposite wheel to stabilise the vehicle. ŠKODA’s 4×4 technology also supports the vehicle’s dynamic control systems to ensure safe and smooth handling on dry, wet or slippery surfaces. Many drivers who travel with trailers or caravans, in particular, appreciate this feature; when pulling away and on hill starts, the all-wheel-drive offers noticeable advantages thanks to its excellent traction. In addition, ŠKODA 4×4 variants can tow loads up to 25% heavier than comparable vehicles with front-wheel drive.
Consumption-optimised all-wheel-drive control
At the heart of ŠKODA’s current 4×4 models is the fifth-generation electronically controlled multi-plate clutch. This is a hydraulic system that controls the continuous distribution of power between the front and rear axles. Under normal conditions, the front wheels are driven. If necessary, the oil pressure is raised in the clutch, which compresses the disk pack and directs the power flow also to the rear axle. This varies depending on the changing road conditions. An electronic control unit enables automatic interventions even with the smallest speed differences between the axles. In addition, information from sensors, such as engine speed, accelerator pedal position, wheel speed, steering angle and lateral and longitudinal acceleration, is processed. In this way, the electronics can react to the smallest changes within milliseconds and ensure that the torque distribution between the axles and individual wheels is always appropriate to the situation. The drive can be relied on even if the front wheels cannot grip the road surface. In these situations, the clutch will shift up to 90% of the drive torque to the rear axle. Under extreme conditions, the system is even able to transfer up to 85% of the power to a single wheel. The 4×4 drive is very efficient and also extremely economical. The rear axle is only engaged if the situation requires it. For overrun, low loads or driving straight ahead, the drive is primarily over the front axle to save energy.
ŠKODA’s 4×4 expertise is very popular with customers
In recent years, ŠKODA has consistently expanded its range of all-wheel-drive vehicles. The 4×4 variants have made a vital contribution to the brand’s success. More and more models are available with all-wheel drive as an option, and many come with two driven axles as standard. The two SUVs Karoq and Kodiaq, as well as various variants of the third-generation Octavia and Superb, are available with four wheel drive.
ŠKODA made its first attempts with a multi-axis drive in the late 1930s. Find out more about ŠKODA’s 4×4 history on the ŠKODA Storyboard.