An all-electric Audi RS 3 has set a new world record, though unofficially. Driven by Daniel Abt, the modified sedan hit 130 mph...in reverse. Abt posted video of the attempt to YouTube on Tuesday.
Daniel Abt is part of the Audi Sport Abt Formula E team. The car was an Audi RS 4 modified by the Schaeffler Group to produce a staggering 1,200 horsepower. That's instant horsepower, too, since this is a fully electric four-door. Gone is the entertaining 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine. It's been replaced by not one, but four Formula E electric motors. Each one produces 295 hp.
Using a clean stretch of flat tarmac, Abt pulled the RS 3 up to the starting line. Instead of selecting a forward gear, he put the car into reverse and made several runs before he set the final record. He started out slowly, hitting 100 mph on his first run, but eventually smoked the tires as he headed toward the record books.
This is, after all, a car built to embarrass any so-called supercar that lines up next to it. Abt has used this RS 3 to demonstrate straight-line speed in the past, as he's taken down Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Audis, often while fighting for traction yet still winning races.
An electric car is an ideal candidate for a record run in reverse. Transmission gearing limits the speed of internal combustion engine cars to 10 or maybe 15 mph in reverse and those speeds can be terrifying.
Abt was quite nervous to go so fast backwards, but he did it anyway. In fact, he drag raced a Porsche 911 GT2 RS prior to making his fastest runs. In a run up to 178 kph (almost 111 mph), the RS 3 beat the Porsche, with the Audi running backward and the Porsche forward.
Prior to Abt's attempt at the record, it stood at an even 100 mph. Now it's 130 mph.
During Abt's final two runs, the danger of driving that fast in reverse became apparent. The car spun out when he got on the brake both times. Still, in the last attempt, he set the record at 209.7 kph, or 130.3 mph.
Abt noted that this is an unofficial record, and it's not clear if it's entered into any official record book. Top-speed records usually have to be repeated in both directions, but Abt didn't make that attempt. He was so jittery after the last run and subsequent spin-out that he had to get out of the car.
This might seem like an easy record to break. But some folks have trouble backing up at 5 mph, never mind 130 mph. The physics of the car change when the steerable wheels move to the back. Keeping it stable at that speed is difficult and Daniel Abt did a great job of setting what is at least an unofficial record with his modified Audi.