Audi has extensively updated its Dakar Rally prototype for 2023, with the improvements intended to increase powertrain efficiency and make the vehicle simpler for the crew to manage.

The E2 abbreviation, which was previously present on the storied Audi Quattro in its Group B derivation in the 1980s, is now part of the name of the Audi RS Q e-tron E2.

Since it made its debut at this year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, the car’s whole body has been completely redesigned. According to chief designer Axel Loffler, not a single body item from its predecessor has been carried over to the new model.

The original Audi RS Q e-tron was overweight due to its incredibly complex hybrid powertrain system, and several weight-saving measures have been implemented on the 2023 car. 

The German manufacturer admitted that it had to remove several kilograms from the vehicle even though the minimum weight has increased from 2,000kg to 2,100kg.

Another important area of focus was aerodynamics, with designers managing to minimize drag by 15% while needing to increase cockpit width to comply with rules.

The RS Q e-tron E2’s powertrain fundamentally remains a hybrid, with two electric motors supplemented by a DTM-derived engine that only serves to charge the batteries, not to drive the car itself.

A number of changes have been made to increase the powertrain’s efficiency and address some of the problems that surfaced when it first debuted, such as a spike in power that was noticed when the wheels made less contact with the ground during jumps or on uneven terrain.

Additionally optimized to reduce energy consumption during phases are the servo pump and cooling pump for the air conditioner, and fans.

Furthermore, a number of adjustments have been made to make it simpler for the crew to control the vehicle. First, to reduce the time required to change punctured tires, flat, easily removable body components have replaced the spare wheels’ cumbersome covers.

The center console’s control buttons have also been rearranged, and a new rotary switch has been introduced to enable the driver and co-driver to easily switch between the four system areas that is: stage, road, error, and settings.

Under Arnau Niubo Bosch’s supervision, the Audi RS Q e-tron E2’s first run was successfully completed. The vehicle is now prepared to head to Morocco for the Rally du Maroc, which will take place from October 1–6.

Stephane Peterhansel, a 14-time Dakar champion, Carlos Sainz, another legendary rally driver, and Mattias Ekstrom, a two-time DTM champion, will all be operating Audi’s whole fleet of three vehicles in Morocco.

“We’ve managed a good debut at the Dakar with the Audi RS Q e-tron and even our first stage victories in a motorsport discipline that is new to us,” Audi Sport managing director Rolf Michl said. “The entire team is working excellently together and pulling in the same direction.”

“As is usual at such an early stage, the drivers, co-drivers and technicians quickly agreed on the next development targets.”

“We have summarised the result in a new evolution package – the RS Q e-tron E2.”

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