A new evolution of the Audi RS Q E-Tron rally car is heading to the 2023 Dakar Rally.
Now bearing the suffix E2 in reference to Audi's Group B rally cars of the 1980s, the RS Q E-Tron gets redesigned bodywork, tweaks to optimize energy efficiency, and some ergonomic upgrades, Audi said Thursday in a press release.
"The Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 does not adopt a single body part from its predecessor," Axel Löffler, the car's chief designer, said in a statement. The cockpit has been widened, and exterior panels were redesigned to improve aerodynamics. The front fenders now sit up and away from the body instead of blending into the doors, and the body itself has a new shape similar to a boat's hull. These changes reduce the coefficient of drag by 15%, and should also make tire changes easier, Audi claims.
Audi RS Q e-tron E2
Revised class rules have raised the minimum weight from 4,409 lb to 4,629 lb, but since the previous RS Q E-Tron was overweight, engineers still aimed for weight reduction. The new front fenders helped with that, as did changes to the rear hood that did away with some air ducting. Changes to the carbon-fiber lay-up of the body panels further reduced weight, according to Audi.
Like the original version, the RS Q E-Tron E2 is powered by one electric motor per axle, with an internal-combustion engine acting as a generator. But, having noted short-term surpluses of energy while racing, Audi changed the energy management software to wring more efficiency out of the powertrain.
The air conditioning system was also tweaked to run more efficiently. Audi found that it was running so often that coolant was actually freezing, so it's been dialed back to an intermittent mode. The revised system uses less energy while still keeping the cockpit cool.
Audi RS Q e-tron E2
As before, the cockpit has multiple display screens and a panel with 24 switches. But to lessen confusion, engineers added a rotary knob with four settings—Stage, Road, Error, and Settings—that cover the most important functions.
The Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 will make its competition debut at the 2022 Morocco Rally, scheduled for Oct. 1-6, with three driver pairings: Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger, and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz. The Moroccan event will serve as preparation for the 2023 Dakar Rally, scheduled to start on New Year's Eve in Saudi Arabia.