Audi RS Q e-tron Makes History at Dakar 2022

Audi RS Q e-tron Dakar 2022

Victory of Stage 3 of Dakar 2022 marks the first time a hybrid vehicle has triumphed at the legendary rally.

The 2022 Dakar Rally hasn’t gone exactly as planned for Audi Sport. But while the race is only about half over, the team has already made history. Because four days into the race, driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz brought their RS Q e-tron in ahead of all the competition. That marked the first time that a hybrid-electric car has won a stage during the legendarily grueling test of man and machine. Make no mistake — this isn’t just a watershed moment for Audi, or the Dakar, but the world of racing as a whole.

To be clear, the RS Q e-tron isn’t a fully electric vehicle, as it features a small internal combustion motor to charge the batteries when plugging in would prove impossible. That said, given the resources that Audi is dedicating toward electric development, and the pace at which battery technology is developing, an all-electric Dakar rig might not be all that far off. So don’t be surprised if you see Dakar veteran and Audi partner Ken Block behind the wheel of a green machine in the next few years.

Unfortunately, an overall victory in 2022 isn’t in the cards. On the first stage, Audi driver and 14-time Dakar champ Stéphane Peterhansel hit a rock which took out not only one of his wheels, but a decent chuck of the rear suspension. While that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you’re racing for 5,000 miles through the desert, the time spent sitting on the trail means the time off the lead will be all but impossible to overcome.

More frustrating than the crash, however, was a confusing roadbook that left his teammates Sainz and Cruz lost for a whopping two hours. In fairness, they weren’t the only car that wound up off the course, but since Audi declined to file a grievance with race control, the standings will reflect the unfortunate detour. That said? While it would have been amazing to win overall on the e-tron’s first effort, it was always a longshot, and Audi will undoubtedly learn plenty about its innovative powertrain over the course of the race.

Photos: Audi

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Audi Poised to Announce an F1 Program

Audi F1

What Audi’s F1 effort would look like is uncertain, but an official announcement should come soon.

If you’re a Formula 1 fan who’d like to cheer for a car wearing the famous Four Rings, it sure sounds like you’re in luck. Because a new report from out friends over at Autocar says that Ingolstadt is set to announce an F1 program, as forthcoming changes to the rulebook will put a focus on sustainable fuels and electric powertrains. While those rules don’t take effect until 2026, and the deal has yet to be approved by the Volkswagen Group brass,  it sounds like fans have every reason to be encouraged. Here’s what Audi CEO Markus Duesmann recently wrote to FIA president Jean Todt:

Thanks to your efforts we are now close to the finish line. Recently, we saw another milestone being reached – the first draft of the technical, sporting and financial regulations… We believe that it contains satisfying solutions for all the objectives.

We look forward to working with you and your team, to complete this important process and to confirm our Formula 1 entry early next year

At this point, exactly what an F1 effort from Audi would look like is uncertain. As rumors have swirled about the company taking the plunge into motorsport’s top tier series, there’s been speculation that it could involve a partnership with McLaren, a role as an engine supplier, or even a traditional factory team. Further complicating any move are rumors that corporate cousin Porsche is also mulling a Formula 1 campaign.  Given how expensive a presence in the sport is, the big question is how much money Volkswagen Group would be prepared to spend to have two of its marque properties battle each other.

As foggy as the outlook might be, however, it does seem like a good time to start planning for an Audi F1 campaign. Right now, arch rival Mercedes is on its heels after Red Bull driver Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton in a historic showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier this month. Verstappen’s victory broke an amazing seven-year run for the Mercedes team, and may very well mark a changing of the guard in the long-stagnant series. Fortunately, since 2022 is right around the corner, we’ll have more news soon. So stay tuned!

Photos: Audi

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Hennessy-Tuned Audi RS6 Avant Hits 183 MPH While Hauling a Christmas Tree

Hennessy-Tuned Audi RS6 Avant Hits 183 MPH While Hauling a Christmas Tree

This 800 HP Hennessey-tuned Audi RS6 Avant is pushed to its absolute limit as part of HPE’s “World’s Fastest Christmas Tree” tradition.

2021 had its fair share of challenges as the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for Hennessey Performance Engineering, Christmas came early this year. As its annual Christmas tradition, HPE loads a tree atop the roof of one of its souped-up creations. The team then pushes the car to its absolute limit. This year the team decided to use A Hennessy-tuned Audi RS6 Avant for the Christmas celebration.

“World’s Fastest Christmas Tree” is what Hennessy calls its Christmas tradition. The specially tuned station wagon belongs to the wife of Hennessey Performance Engineering’s founder and owner John Hennessey. Professional driver Spencer Geswein was behind the wheel of the wagon. Geswein also happens to be the senior instructor at the Ford Performance Driving School.

The twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8 powerplant under the hood produces 800 HP of maximum power, 209 HP more than what it produced in its factory spec, courtesy of the Hennessey treatment. HPE’s modifications allowed the Ingolstadt brand’s offering to hit a top speed of 205 mph during its first run without the Christmas tree.

Hennessy-Tuned Audi RS6 Avant Hits 183 MPH While Hauling a Christmas Tree

The souped-up Audi RS6 Avant gets a modified exhaust system, which bestows it with a gnarly baritone.

As a result, the tuner claims that its high-performance Audi has set a new speed record for the world’s fastest station wagon. Safe to say, this is nothing short of a Christmas miracle for Hennessey Performance. The car also qualifies as a sleeper because Hennessy’s RS6 Avant retains its factory styling for the most part.

However, RS6 Avant’s top speed was reduced to 183 MPH once the tree was strapped onto the wagon’s roof. In addition to the extra weight, the car’s top speed was also affected by its compromised aerodynamics. Hennessy’s super wagon could perform better without the tree because of its 0.35 drag coefficient.

To put things in perspective, Audi claims that a dynamics plus package equipped RS6 Avant can achieve the top speed of 190 mph. Lastly, we are happy to report that the Christmas tree survived the high-speed run (yet another Christmas miracle).
“This was a fun way to end our most recent high speed testing session with our Venom F5. Afterall, who needs reindeer when your wife has an 800 bhp sleigh?” said John Hennessy.

Image Source: Hennessey Performance Engineering

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&Audi Initiative’s SocAlty Study Addresses Central Issues of Autonomous Driving

Audi Initiative’s SocAlty Study Addresses Central Issues of Autonomous Driving

As part of the &Audi initiative, the SocAlty study tackles concerns about liability, ethics, and security that are relevant to the future of autonomous driving.

Mercedes will be the first automaker to sell a vehicle with level 3 autonomous driving capability. The company has plans to introduce the new model sometime next year. Fellow German automaker Audi has now released a 70-page SocAlty study by the &Audi initiative, which addresses central issues about the future of autonomous driving. Earlier in September, SEMA markets research revealed that 58% of consumers want safer cars, but a large majority of them also have strong reservations against fully autonomous cars.

CEO of AUDI AG, Markus Duesmann shared his thoughts on the new study. “After electromobility, the next, clearly more radical change is the transition to more intelligent and, ultimately, autonomous vehicles,” said Duesmann. He further added, “For us, autonomous driving is a key technology that can help make traffic safer and mobility more comfortable and inclusive.”

Nineteen internal and external experts from the field of science, policies, and economics contributed to the study. They discussed different social dimensions of autonomous driving. The study tackles three focal points.

  • Law and progress: A chapter that discusses concerns regarding liability on a global level.
  • Relationship of trust between human and machine: Dives into the ethical implications.
  • Network security: Deliberates over security and data protection-related concerns.

Audi Initiative’s SocAlty Study Addresses Central Issues of Autonomous Driving

SocAlty proposes that in addition to producing more solutions, 2030’s mobility landscape will also be more compartmentalized and diverse. Especially in large cities like New York, Shanghai, and London.

The project manager for the &Audi Initiative at AUDI AG, Saskia Lexen highlighted the automaker’s objective behind the SocAlty study. “All in all, the result is an image of a mobility landscape that will look different in 2030 from what it looks like today, but will manage without science fiction,” said Lexen. She further added, “So Audi wants to establish appropriate expectations for the possibilities and limits of technology in society and to create trust.”

The study claims that the world’s largest EV market, China will be responsible for widespread technology penetration and scaling. The United States will become the most influential entity when it comes to defining autonomous driving technology. Europe’s regulations regarding data protection and consumer rights will impact product standards on an international level. Lastly, the study also proposes that the adoption of autonomous driving technology will be a gradual process. In addition to learning new rules, road users will also have to develop a relationship with the technology.

Image Source: Audi

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2022 TT RS Heritage Edition Limited to 50 Units

Audi TT RS Heritage Edition

The 2022 model year marks the end of the TT RS in the States, and if you want one of the last examples, you better act quick.

The Audi TT has been a fixture of the company’s lineup for nearly 25 years, and the sporty coupe is often cited as a modern design classic. Since 2009, there’s also been an RS version on the books — but all good things must come to an end. The 2022 model year will mark the end of the TT RS on our shores, and if you want one of the last examples, you’re going to have to act quick. Only 50 versions of the top-spec model are headed for the States, and they’re sure to be snapped up before they leave the production line.

The 50 units will be composed of five unique color schemes, and for the math-challenged folks out there, that means there will be ten of each. The choices will be Malachite Green with Cognac Brown leather and black stitching, Alpine White with Ocean Blue leather and Diamond Silver stitching, Helios Blue with Diamond Silver leather and Ocean Blue stitching, Tizian Red with Havana Brown leather and Jet Gray stitching, and Stone Gray with Crimson Red leather and Jet Gray stitching. Fans will note those are all color combos sported by the iconic UR-Quattro

Under the hood, all the RS models will have the turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder good for 394 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of twist, and send power to all four corners via a seven -speed dual clutch transmission. But while there won’t be any more power on the menu, the Heritage Edition TTs will get unique 20-inch wheels, a sport exhaust, OLED lighting, and lose the rear wing. Along with the distinctive colorways, these models will also have “Heritage Edition” and the I5’s firing order — 1-2-4-5-3 — etched into the rear quarter windows.

At this point, there’s no word on when the standard TT and TTS models will be put out to pasture. But given Ingolstadt’s rapid push toward electrification, it’s a safe bet it won’t be too long. Maybe the brass will decide to stick it out until 2023, and let the model mark its 25th anniversary? Regardless, the TT Heritage Edition will arrive in showrooms in early 2022, and list for $82,495. If you manage to score one, make sure to upload some photos!

Image Source: Audi

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