Originally conceived as a virtual race car for the 15th anniversary of the Gran Turismo video game on Sony’s PlayStation 4, the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo has been turned into reality by Audi as part of a marketing campaign built around its new e-tron electric car sub-brand.
Audi has revealed that this new four-wheel drive 816hp electric-powered supercar is to be deployed as a race taxi at selected Formula E events; thus hinting that the low slung two-door car holds clues to a zero-emission flagship being considered as a performance figurehead for the company’s recently confirmed four-door e-tron GT. This car may sit on top of an extended line-up of pure electric production models due in the coming years.
The one-off prototype, constructed at Audi’s pre-production workshop in Ingolstadt, is planned to be used to provide selected customers and guests of the German car maker with high-speed passenger rides during Formula E race weekends, starting at the Rome event in Italy on April 14, 2018.
According to Audi, the decision to build this electric-powered supercar makes it the first simulated race car developed for Playstation’s Gran Turisimo to be made fully functional. It also hints at possible plans by Audi to bolster its presence in the supercar ranks with a new performance-based e-tron model that (Ingolstadt insiders suggest) could complement the R8 with pure electric drive.
Audi has so far confirmed three-battery-propelled e-tron models: the e-tron Quattro, the e-tron Sportback and e-tron GT. The e-tron Quattro (an SUV meant to rival the Telsa Model X) and e-tron Sportback (a high-riding five-door liftback) are planned to be produced at the company’s plant in Brussels, Belgium. The more exclusive e-tron GT is set to roll out from a dedicated production line being established at Audi Sport division’s showcase Bollinger Hof factory in Neckarsulm, Germany.
Backing up claims that the e-tron Vision GT could one day see production are comments from senior Audi officials that it represents more than a mere concept. “Although the design of a virtual vehicle allows greater freedom and the creation of concepts which are hard to implement in reality, we did not want to put a purely fictitious concept on wheels," says Audi design boss, Marc Lichte.
Lichte has headed the design team working on Audi’s upcoming range of all-electric e-tron models. He says that the car incorporates numerous elements of a new Audi design language, including the new grille – an inverted single frame in the vehicle's colour – which is to be featured on the new e-tron models.
Drawing on technology used by the ultra-low-volume R8 e-tron as well as the three upcoming e-tron production models, the Vision GT is powered by three electric motors – one sited up front, providing drive to the front wheels and two at the rear driving the individual rear wheels – each with 200kW, or 290hp.
The electric motors used by the new supercar are based on the production unit set to be unveiled in the upcoming production version of the Audi e-tron Quattro. Developed in-house at Audi parent company, Volkswagen, they are produced at its plant in Kassel, Germany.
Altogether, the three electric motors provide a combined 816hp – sufficient, according to Audi, to provide its new 1,450kg coupé with a power-to-weight ratio of 563hp per tonne.
No official torque figure for the new Audi prototype has been revealed, though our sister publication, Autocar UK, says that officials from Audi’s pre-production workshop have revealed that the trio of electric motors deliver more than 1,000Nm of torque.
Equipped with a specially developed quattro four-wheel drive system, the e-tron Vision GT is claimed to accelerate from 0-100kph in 2.5sec. Audi is yet to provide details to the battery used by the supercar, although Autocar UK has been told that it shares its technology with the lithium-ion unit planned to appear in the production version of the e-tron Quattro due out later this year.
Among those Audi has chosen to drive the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo on the sidelines of Formula E races is former DTM race driver Rahel Frey and Le Mans victor Dindo Capello.