Alfa Spills Chassis Secrets ripped from Auto Express
"Alfa Romeo is seeking to jump ahead of its European and Japanese rivals in terms of chassis technology when it rolls out its new Q4 four-wheel-drive system over the next few years. Talking exclusively to evo, Alfa's technical development chief Paolo Massai (image) revealed that work is underway on a series of innovations that could add up to one of the most innovative platforms on sale.
The basis of Q4 - a permanent 4wd system - has already rolled out on two new versions of the 156 Sportwagon. However, Massai admitted that this is effectively hanging the new drivetrain on an old platform. Next year's all-new 157 will provide a much more modern basis for Q4.
Massai is vocal about the advantages of Alfa's Q4 system over the part-time 4x4 systems used in other transverse-engined cars. Based around a central Torsen C differential, Q4 runs a steady-state torque bias to the rear wheels but can alter the torque distribution to suit the driving conditions.
He also revealed that the Q4 system will be further upgraded with an 'active' rear differential, 'active' anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering.
Active anti-roll bars (which only firm up when the car is being driven hard: at other times they are disengaged to improve ride comfort) are still relatively rare, while an active diff and active rear-steering remain a novel way of ensuring vehicle stability.
Directing differing amounts of torque to the rear wheels improves stability, cornering prowess and should keep the chassis resolutely neutral. Rear steering can also be used to resist oversteer in fast bends (and could work as a very swift stability system without reducing engine power) and should dramatically improve the car's turn-in and agility. With these innovations bundled together, the 157 Q4 promises the one of the most exciting new Alfas for some years. "