Audi RS Q e-tron E2: lighter, more aerodynamic and even more efficient!

In March 2022, the Audi RS Q e-tron won its first desert rally in Abu Dhabi, now the next stage of evolution is ready. The innovative prototype has been significantly improved for the 2022 Morocco Rally and the 2023 Dakar. The body is completely new and has significantly better aerodynamics. It helps lower the weight and center of gravity of the prototype. New operating strategies further improve the efficiency of the electric drive. In the interior and when changing wheels, the driver and front passenger benefit from easier operation. After these further developments, the RS Q e-tron now the abbreviation E2. It is reminiscent of the legendary Audi Sport quattro in its final expansion stage for Rally Group B in the XNUMXs.

Gentle in the wind, light in the sand: the new body

“The Audi RS Q e-tron E2 does not take a single body part from its predecessor,” says Axel Löffler, Chief Designer of the RS Q e-tron. In order to comply with the prescribed interior dimensions, the cockpit, which was previously drawn in tightly towards the roof, is now significantly wider. The front and rear hoods have also been redesigned. “We are now doing without the underflow of the rear hood to the left and right of the B-pillars. In connection with modified lay-ups, i.e. optimized fabric layers of the composite materials, this solution reduces the weight,” says Löffler. In the future, T1U prototypes will have to weigh 2.100 instead of 2.000 kilograms. Since the first generation of the RS Q e-tron was still overweight, it was still necessary to save several dozen kilograms. This is accompanied by a lowering of the vehicle's center of gravity.

The aerodynamic concept in the body area below the hood is completely new. This section is almost reminiscent of the shape of a boat hull: its widest point is at the level of the cockpit, while the body narrows significantly towards the front and rear. Audi now dispenses with the part of the fenders that was behind the front wheels and represented the transition to the door. Internally, this structure was called "elephant's foot". As a result, the designers save further weight and optimize the air flow. "The aerodynamic aspect should not be underestimated in desert rallying either," says Löffler. The body has a larger and therefore less favorable cross-section due to the new cockpit dimensions.

Nevertheless, it was possible to reduce the overall aerodynamic drag by around 15 percent, i.e. the product of the cw-value and the face (A). This does not change the top speed. It remains limited to 170 km/h in the regulations. The improved air flow still offers a big advantage. "It further reduces the energy requirement of the electrically powered car," says Löffler. "We completely implemented the aerodynamic calculation using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)." This computer simulation replaces the time-consuming work in the wind tunnel and still delivers extremely precise results.

Even more environmentally friendly: optimized energy management

The electric drive of the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 includes an energy converter consisting of a combustion engine and a generator, as well as a high-voltage battery and the two electric motors on the front and rear axles. Energy management plays a decisive role here. The electronic control of the complex electric drive has proven itself in the first rally use. Only in extreme cases did challenges arise. At the Dakar Rally, for example, Audi noted short-term excess power in situations in which the wheels had little contact with the ground when jumping or on uneven terrain.

Those responsible at the World Automobile Association (FIA) intervene from a threshold of 2 kilojoules of excess energy and hand out sports penalties. "For comparison: Within the permissible limits, more than one hundred times the amount of energy flows to the motors per second," says Florian Semlinger, Development Embedded Software, Application and Test Bench. “We could have taken it easy and lowered our threshold by several kilowatts, but that would have meant performance disadvantages. Instead, we put a lot of fine work into the power controller.” The software now recalculates two individual limits – one for each machine – in the millisecond range. It thus works exactly along the permissible limit.

So-called secondary consumers also benefit from optimized control. The servo pump, the cooling pump of the air conditioning system and the fans have a measurable influence on the energy balance. In the course of the 2022 debut season, the Audi and Q Motorsport rally team gained valuable experience that will enable a better rating. Take the example of the air conditioning system: It works so extremely that the coolant threatened to freeze when the system was running at maximum output. In the future, the system will run in intermittent operation. It saves energy, but the interior temperatures fluctuate only slightly, even over longer periods of time. The operating strategy has also been optimized for the fans and the servo pump. The systems can now be regulated differently for the lower loads on the connecting stages than on the special stages.

Simplified operation: Ease of use in the cockpit and when changing wheels

The Audi drivers Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz can look forward to their new jobs. The displays are still in the usual style in the driver's field of vision and in the center console, and the central switch panel with its 24 fields has also been retained. However, the engineers restructured the displays and controls. "The entirety of all functions quickly creates confusion," says Florian Semlinger. "That's why the driver and co-driver can now, for the first time, choose from four areas with a rotary switch." All functions that are important in competition operations are stored in the "Stage" theme - such as the speed limiter in the sections with speed limits or the jack.

The "Road" area contains functions such as turn signals and reversing cameras that are often in demand on the connection stages. The "Error" selection is used to detect, categorize and catalog errors. Settings are grouped under "Settings" that are useful for the engineering team during tests or after arriving at the bivouac, for example detailed temperatures of individual systems. The crews can now work much easier after a puncture. Simple, flat and easily removable body parts replace the previous voluminous covers of the spare wheels in the flanks. The new ten-spoke rims from Partner Rotiform are much easier to grip. The driver and passenger can grip them more easily and make the change more safely.

presented on September 1st in Neuburg an der Donau

“We summarized all the learning effects in a very short time. The result of our ideas is the E2 evolution stage,” says Uwe Breuling, Head of Vehicle Deployment at Audi Sport. "Our development team has prepared itself well for our second Dakar Rally with its goal-oriented and cost-efficient work." After initial tests led by Arnau Niubó Bosch, Head of Test Engineering, Audi Sport has the RS Q e-tron E2 presented on September 1st in Neuburg an der Donau. From October 1st to 6th, the new technology has to prove itself for the first time in competition at the Rallye du Maroc. All three Audi driver pairings will then contest the desert rally, starting and finishing in Agadir in the south-west of the North African country.

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Audi RS Q e-tron E2: lighter, more aerodynamic and even more efficient!
Photo credit: Audi
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