A strong off-road hybrid

Audi RS Q e-Tron is set for 2022 Dakar Rally one of the greatest challenges in international racing. Less than a year ago, the German automaker announced its intent to enter the 2022 Dakar Rally with an electrified bespoke SUV. And on Friday, Audi has finally revealed and started testing the wild off-roader to represent as the four rings’ contender.

The RS Q e-Tron will play a significant role in the direction of Audi’s new motorsports. This is after Audi decides to withdraw from Formula E and DTM to focus on Le Mans and Dakar.

Three RS Q e-Trons have been enlisted to compete in the Dakar that is set for January 2022. It includes the most successful Dakar driver, Stéphane Peterhansel, with 14 victories. Carlos Sainz, a two-time rally champ and three-time Dakar winner. And Mattias Ekström, a two-time DTM titleholder and holds one World Rallycross championship.

RS Q e-Tron: Electrified for the world’s toughest rally

As Audi unveils the RS Q e-Tron, the brand intends to be the first car manufacturer to use an electrified drivetrain in the world’s toughest rally. The marathon will last for two weeks, with the daily stages up to 800 kilometers in length. Knowing how the desert environment lacks charging infrastructure, Audi has equipped the RS Q e-Tron with an innovative charging concept.

The vehicle’s system will rely on a highly efficient 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine from the DTM. This will act as a generator to recharge the vehicle’s 50.0-kWh battery that weighs approximately 816 lbs (370 kg). The vehicle operates in the efficient range of between 4, 500 rpm and 6, 000 rpm with consumption below 200 grams per kWh.

Its front and rear axles are powered with a motor-generator unit (MGU) taken from the current FE07 Formula E car. Thus, only a minor modification is needed for it to be used in the Dakar Rally.

The tri-motor power

However, RS Q e-Tron is not only powered by two motors. A third MGU acts as part of the energy converter system. This also serves to recharge the high-voltage battery while driving.

With its tri-motor powertrain, the RS Q e-Tron can produce a whopping 671 HP (500 kW/680 PS). However, organizers haven’t finalized yet how much of this can be used until later in 2021. In the meantime, testing will continue on off-road tracks and cross-country rallies to see any adjustments needed before the start on January 2 in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia.

This wild off-roader can accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in less than 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 106 mph (170 km/h).

The vehicle has the advantage to precisely control the electric motor for good drivability. Since the front and rear axles are not mechanically connected, the torque distribution can be adjusted when needed. In addition, braking can also be recovered.

RS Q e-Tron’s futuristic design

The off-road hybrid RS Q e-Tron has a different approach to its design. It has a typical Audi design element but not a conventional Dakar prototype. With Dakar Rally’s tough challenge that could get their front suspension compressed and frontend pointing downwards, a large open front is designed like a UFO.

Team Leader of Motorsport Design at Audi, Juan Manuel Diaz said, “The vehicle looks futuristic and has many design elements that are typical of Audi. Our aim was to symbolize Vorsprung Durch Technik and the future of our brand.”

Significantly, there is a resemblance of the RS Q e-Tron that pays tribute to the original Audi Quattro.  It models a rakish windscreen and a sloping roof with a massive air-intake used to cool the electric motors. Another notable feature is the 17-inch wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich tires. While a brake light function comes in lined LEDs in its central fin.

Conclusion

As Audi’s off-road hybrid RS Q e-Tron gets ready with its electric drivetrain in the 2022 Dakar Rally, the German manufacturer admits it as an ultimate challenge. In addition, Andreas Roos, the one responsible for the Dakar project at Audi Sport, said, “What we are trying to do has never been done before.”

As challenging as it is, with an innovative concept and an intense test program, RS Q e-Tron is all set. The desert of Saudi Arabia will definitely be welcomed with one wild off-roader.

With RS Q e-Tron, Audi is definitely keeping its promise of “Vorsprung Durch Technik”.

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All photos used are credit to the owners.