Occasionally, someone (or a company) will do something so well it becomes them. For Apple it's design. Nordstrom is known for customer service. Starbucks redefined the cup of coffee. Audi created Quattro.
In the early 1980's, Audi did something no other car manufacturer was doing. They put AWD into a passenger car. At the time, this was done almost exclusively in trucks. Any car that had previously went the AWD route had a raised ride height, and lacked the technology to be effective. Audi rewrote the book.
In no place is this more evident than in Motorsport. Audi dominated the World Rally scene, won multiple championships, and became the only manufacturer ever to have a female driver win a World Rally event. In fact, this is still true today. Quattro set a new standard and changed Rally Racing forever.
The "off road" nature of rally racing seems a natural fit for AWD, but what about road racing. I'm sure you can guess what happened. Audi showed up with a 4 door family sedan, and destroyed the competition. With the racing dominance, despite weight penalties from sanctioning bodies, Audi was so successful that Quattro was banned by the FIA as an unfair advantage!
As you are reading this, you may be wondering what racing has to do with you. I will put it simply...everything. By utilizing Motorsport, Audi is able to develop and test technology far more effectively than without it. In fact, most people fail to recognize the safety significance of Quattro in day to day use. The most common cause of loss of control is a skid with an over correction by the driver.
On dry pavement, Quattro allows for much higher grip levels making all corrective maneuvers safer (never mind the performance benefits). The car settles down and maintains control. In inclement weather, the difference shows exponentially. I was fortunate enough to drive the upcoming Q3 in Germany. It was 40 degrees and raining. We did a panic braking test, a sudden lane change test, and a slalom course. Never once did the vehicle start to lose control...in fact I didn't even SEE anyone even close. Simply amazing.
Quattro. Audi. Truth in Engineering.