Audi RS Q e-tron

The finest thing I observed in Italy was a bus driver shaking his fist at a flock of sheep blocking his way down a narrow highway set versus a hillside lined in wild lavender. He had a glorious mustache and an considerable vocabulary of what I presume had been sheep-linked curses. The second-best factor was the dashboard of Audi’s RS Q e-tron, which flashed my identify throughout its electronic display screen. I only observed it for a 2nd, and then I drove by way of a stream and all I saw was h2o.

Audi brought me to Italy to get a flavor of what its racing drivers working experience piloting the RS Q e-tron in the two-7 days-long Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. Just exchange almost 6000 miles of skyscraper-substantial sand dunes, rocky desert terrain, and superior-speed navigation with three laps about a little filth monitor on a fantastic spring day on a farm in Sardinia. Here, the most important interruptions have been the cows, all of which ended up putting on lovable minor bells, like in the cartoons, and the farmers, who retained giving me do-it-yourself wine, even while it was 9 a.m. Emil Bergkvist, an true Dakar co-driver, sat to the ideal of me in the RS Q e-tron’s passenger seat, so in some ways, it was kind of like driving in the true race.

The RS Q e-tron is a monster. It is wider than a GMC Hummer EV—a hulking place capsule of carbon fiber with air vents massive more than enough to crawl by means of and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires as knobby as an arthritic knuckle. Audi’s race equipment constantly have an scary existence, from the flattened R18 Le Mans racer to the extensive-bodied RS5 of the DTM collection to the brand’s prior System E motor vehicle, with its insectile folds and wings. The physique of the RS Q e-tron has all the scoops and fats fenders—and a general feeling of violence—of Audi’s past racers, but sits substantial on a double-wishbone suspension replete with Reiger fuel shocks as thick as my thigh. It seems to be less like a race automobile than a weapon, a stealth bomber on wheels. It’s also one of only three built (accomplished in a quite short time and at a price in the millions), so Audi was seriously hoping I, and the rest of the media users it introduced out to generate this equipment, would stay away from operating it into a cow whilst drunk on early morning wine.

The densely packed growth timeline of the RS Q e-tron noticed the vehicle go from an ambitious plan at the beginning of 2020 to a dune-leaping, stage-successful racer in January 2022. This restricted timetable forced the RS Q e-tron’s development workforce to rethink almost everything they understood about developing race cars.

Audi’s racing historical past features decades of establishing all-wheel-drive automobiles for the intent of driving in the grime. The manufacturer has also place in time competing in endurance racing. Considerably less acquainted to Audi, even though, was off-street stamina racing, and in purchase to ship groups to Dakar, it desired to make a entirely new motor vehicle.

The difficulty of the job was amplified by the brand’s wish to enter an electrical car. Audi understood its electric motors were being up to the activity courtesy of its now-defunct System E workforce, but it needed to find a way to be certain there was sufficient electrical power on board to electrical power these motors for the a lot of miles that individual each individual phase of an off-highway stamina race these kinds of as the Dakar Rally.

“If we’d wished to make it to even the initial fueling stop on battery ability [alone], we would have necessary a trailer to haul it,” joked Benedikt Brunninger, complex challenge leader for the RS Q e-tron. When Audi begun perform on the RS Q e-tron undertaking, the FIA continue to did not have policies in location that ended up relevant to the electric racer. By the time the car hit the setting up line, its powertrain’s output was confined to 288 kilowatts (about 386 horsepower), and its onboard gas ability was capped at 300 liters (about 79 gallons).

Wait, fuel? Audi worked around the electrical RS Q e-tron’s likely array challenges by equipping it with an onboard generator, earning it type of the reverse of the brand’s hybrid Prototype-course Le Mans racers. Although all those cars and trucks made use of electrical motors to give a electricity raise to the internal-combustion motor, the RS Q e-tron works by using its front- and rear-axle-mounted motors to ability the drive wheels and its turbocharged 2.-liter inline-four (cribbed from the RS5 DTM racer), which mates to a third electrical motor, rigged to provide as a generator, to recharge its 52.-kWh battery pack.

That helps make it a sequence hybrid, an electrical auto with a surprising muffler in the rear, and a decidedly non-electric powered audio though recharging. The application that connects the various systems and keeps all the things running and charging is so elaborate that various miles of wiring reside in the car or truck. From an environmental standpoint, functioning a gas engine for hrs to demand an electric powered motor is arguably no better than simply just relying entirely on an inside-combustion powertrain. On the other hand, the challenge-resolving carried out to deliver the RS Q e-tron to lifetime may well in the long run direct to a lot more effective hybrid powertrains in the long term.

Audi created the RS Q e-tron’s DTM-sourced motor for endurance racing, which tends to make it very well suited for the process of working at significant revs for extended durations of time when the desert racer calls upon it for recharging uses. With minor want for the engine’s comprehensive powerband, the RS Q e-tron’s engineers tinkered with the motor by upping its compression ratio and lowering the turbo’s improve in purchase to increase gas performance.

Fabian Titus, 1 of the combustion-engine advancement engineers for the car or truck, told me there have been initially some concerns about modifying the 4-cylinder for the Dakar race. “Normally, if an engine is at significant rpm, the automobile is going rapid, so you really don’t fear about overheating,” he mentioned. “Here, if it is charging in the dunes, it may be scarcely transferring.”

There ended up also problems about getting adequate air to the engine even though also keeping out grit and sand. To handle those people challenges, the four-cylinder receives a protecting box, replete with fans for cooling.

Speaking of cooling, Saudi Arabia can drop to freezing at night time, and there is no time for engine-oil warmers or idling in the pits. To check what may come about if the motor fired up cold, the crew took a retired DTM car or truck, left it outside the house in the German winter, and commenced it up the upcoming morning. “I was all set to run if it blew up,” said Titus, “but it was fine, it was not a problem.”

The procedure can immediately kick on the motor at a predetermined battery cost stage, but the driver can also begin the 4-cylinder at will, which Bergkvist did on our second lap around the observe. He warned me it was a odd cognitive knowledge, heading from the hums and clicks of the motors to the engine’s continuous 5000 rpm no subject the posture of the accelerator. It was specifically off-placing through braking to hear no transform in the roar and sense no a lot less vibration from the middle of the automobile. It was also shockingly loud, though not loud plenty of to drown out my recommendation to Bergkvist of getting the soar in the center of the system. “Ah, indeed. No,” he reported, pointing firmly towards the straightaway to the suitable of the hill.

Even with out a sweet bounce, I could notify the RS Q e-tron must be particularly capable in rough terrain. I was the past member of my media group to travel the auto close to the compact track, and its previously smooth dust surface area was comprehensively plowed and furrowed from my colleague’s at the rear of-the-wheel antics. Real truth is, although, I didn’t even understand the course’s deteriorating problem until finally a great deal afterwards, when I ran it in a flippantly race-prepped Audi Q5 and approximately experienced my enamel knocked out.

The RS Q e-tron bobbed about the ruts like a fishing float, the cabin suspended so considerably within the massive fenders that Bergkvist experienced to remind me a superior a person-3rd of the car or truck was hanging out on both aspect of our viewpoint. It felt odd to goal for an apex so considerably from the edge of the keep track of and comprehend your tires are nonetheless slightly up the berm.

Other than the motor observe, anything in the RS Q e-tron is soft. The steering is as light as a ’73 Chrysler’s, which tends to make sense when you imagine driver Mattias Ekström shelling out full times digging this thing through sand dunes. It’s sort of enjoyable when you get utilised to it: a minor tip of the wheel, wait around for the body to dip and recenter, get back on the accelerator. It’s a fragile course of action for these types of a brutish device. Through races, the RS Q e-tron features a set quantity of electricity recuperation as a result of braking, but for my push, it was off—full coast and conventional brake pedal experience. The nose dove like a fishing eagle each individual time I stepped on the brake and bounced back up when I bought again on the accelerator.

I was just acquiring the cling of letting the Audi rear up on the straights and surf through the turns when Bergkvist introduced the cool-down lap. I allow the physique settle down into a tranquil loaf and turned it back towards the pits.

Battery-electrical cars are at this time the darlings of automotive marketers, but the troubles confronted by the Audi crew in getting ready for Dakar are not so unique from those modern car or truck shoppers will have to consider. What’s the vary? The place can I charge? It is doable the solution for people could possibly be the similar as that for racers. If gasoline-electric powered hybrids return to vogue, then Audi might just guide the demand.

This content material is imported from embed-name. You might be in a position to find the same material in a further format, or you may well be able to discover far more details, at their world wide web site.

This material is designed and preserved by a 3rd social gathering, and imported on to this site to aid buyers supply their email addresses. You could be equipped to discover far more details about this and identical information at