Taking Audi’s iconic rally cars into the future was a labor of love for the Gymkhana superstar, and enthusiasts got the goods.
When Ken Block first teamed up with Audi to help develop electric vehicles, he revealed that watching Group B — and the company’s legendary S1 E2 — was what inspired him to become a rally driver. So working with the wizards of the Four Rings on the Audi S1 HOONITRON, then using it to tear up the streets of Sin City for the ELECTRIKHANA video was a dream come true. Even by Block’s lofty standards, the latest entry in his Gymkhana series is a riot to watch — and now that the smoke has settled, he’s giving us a peek behind the scenes.
Of course, there’s no question that the HOONITRON is a new-school machine. So it was interesting to see that some of the techniques used to construct it are as old-world as it gets. I’m talking specifically about the fact that before the final bodywork was completed, the prototype was sculpted in clay. Given how much can be done with 3D modeling today, the choice to use a physical medium to massage the lines was an interesting one.
But it’s hard to argue with results, and as James Bond taught us in Skyfall, “sometimes the old ways are best.”
As Bastian Rosenauer, Chief Engineer of the HOONITRON project explains, making a high-performance electric vehicle with the level of maneuverability Block requires for his videos was no easy feat. Specifically, the extremely short wheelbase meant finding a place for the battery was a challenge. And obviously, weight distribution — along with giving the machine the proper center of gravity — was a big factor as well. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Block describes the finished product as the most advanced drift car he’s ever driven.
At this point, exactly what’s next for the Hoonitron remains to be seen. But given the fact that Audi is headed toward an all-electric lineup, and has no intentions of letting its motorsport involvement fall by the wayside, you can bet some of the lessons learned here will be used to craft other weapons-grade kit. Perhaps someday, we’ll even see Audi return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an electric endurance car…