Ahead of the times
Trailblazer in America
This touring car prototype was built for the 1989 season for fielding in the GTO class of the US IMSA racing series. In the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO Audi presented its leading-edge technology on the stage of circuit racing that was new for the brand at the time, so demonstrating its pioneering technical advantages of four-wheel drive, turbo engines, lightweight and compact design especially on the North American market.
This powerful 720-hp (530-kW) racing car was driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck (pictured left), Walter Röhrl (pictured right), Hurley Haywood and Scott Goodyear. Stuck won seven of his 18 races in the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO, one of them together with Walter Röhrl. In 1989 Audi did not compete in two IMSA rounds, but in the end still scored second place in the manufacturers’ classification. Stuck placed third in the drivers’ classification and Haywood fourth.
Audi initially created this futuristic concept strictly as a virtual vehicle and exclusively for the ‘Gran Turismo’ PlayStation game. Subsequently, in May 2017, Audi’s Pre-Production Centre, supported by Audi’s Technical Development and Audi Sport, began developing the car designed for virtual racing into a fully functional one. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology and featuring a futuristic design, a virtual became a real-world vehicle within the space of eleven months, with the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo having taken its cues particularly from the nearly 30-year-old Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO racing legend.
The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo serves several purposes: for one, Audi uses it to showcase its capabilities in electric technology, specifically the additional expertise gained in the Formula E racing series. For the other, this forward-thinking racing car makes it possible to experience the hot topic of electric mobility in an unprecedented way, so demonstrating that Audi is shaping electric mobility of the future in sporty, emotive and fascinating style as well.
The 815-hp (600-kW) Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo was deployed as a race taxi in 2018 during the European Formula E events held on the street circuits of big cities: Rome, Paris, Berlin and Zurich. Since the 2017/2018 season, Audi, with its Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, has been the first German car manufacturer involved in Formula E with a factory-backed commitment.
Vorsprung with new technology
Lightweight Design, Turbo Power, Four-Wheel Drive
Based on the Audi 80/90 B3 production model, Audi builds its most pedigreed touring car to date for the 1989 IMSA racing season. Only the outer shell of the roof, conforming to the regulations, has been adopted from the production saloon and is made of steel. The body consists of a tubular space frame clothed in a carbon fibre composite. The floor plate is made of carbon fibre as well.
Its rigorous lightweight design makes this racing car so light that it tips the scales at just 1,206 kilograms. The sides are super-wide and the four doors just painted on the body shell. For the sake of higher safety, the driver can only get in and out of the car through the side window.
The five-cylinder turbo engine of the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO is an evolution of the power-plant with which Audi won two drivers’ and two manufacturers’ world championship titles between 1982 and 1984 in rally racing in addition to setting a Pikes Peak record in 1987.
The transverse-mounted front engine is of a lightweight design as well. It consists of aluminium, has a four-valve cylinder head and an exhaust-driven turbocharger. At a maximum charging pressure of 2.5 bar up to 720 hp (530 kW) are produced from the 2.2 litres of displacement.
Combined with permanent four-wheel Audi quattro drive and a manually shifted six-speed gearbox, the brawny racing car displayed its dominance on the race track particularly in cornering. Its performance: from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds, top speed of 310km/h and maximum torque of 720 newton metres.
The forward-thinking concept delivers even higher performance than its nearly 30-year-old Audi brother: it takes the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo 2.5 seconds to sprint from 0–100 km/h. After 5.2 seconds, the electric GT racing car breaks the 200-km/h mark. Three electric motors, each delivering 200 kW, make this possible. One of them sits on the front axle and two are mounted to the rear axle resulting in a combined system output of 600 kW, which corresponds to 815 hp. The maximum torque is 1,000 newton metres.
This triple electric power output is transmitted to all four wheels. Audi’s permanent, all-electric e-tron quattro drive operates with variable torque distribution. As in the Audi quattro IMSA GTO, the body of the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo features a space frame and carbon fibre combination, but unlike its legendary role model the two-seat electric coupe has two doors.
The tradition continues
With the four-door saloon that evolved into a touring car Audi retained its original colour concept for racing: white as the basic colour of the bodywork. Emblazoned at the front on the fenders and at the rear on the sides and fenders is the rhombus-shaped logo used by Audi Sport at the time, featuring conspicuous red, silver and black stripes. However, on the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO they’re even longer and wider than on the rally cars with which Audi had begun its modern-day motorsport commitment in 1981. The effects are as stunning as the massive, flared fenders and mighty bumpers of the racing car – which makes it a brawny powerhouse visually as well.
For the design of this futuristic concept, the Audi developers neither had to conform to a production model nor a set of racing regulations. Albeit, sportiness, a powerful structure and clarity: this unmistakable spirit exuded by any Audi had to be embodied by the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo as well. So, the exciting look of the 1989 Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO provided the cues for further development, resulting in a GT racing car of the future that appears even more dynamic in terms of shape and colour.
Real fun to drive
Loved by Racing Drivers
Hans-Joachim Stuck is not the only racer to go into raptures about his former winning car. Even racing drivers who never competed in it love the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO. “For me, the IMSA GTO is and will remain my absolute favourite,” says Dindo Capello. The three-time Le Mans winner is an Audi ambassador and drives the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO from time to time at historic motorsport events.
Highly Energized Race Taxi
“Incredible!”This is always the initial reaction of any passenger riding in the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo. “The people we chauffeur around are particularly surprised by the immediate, extremely high acceleration and hardly audible motor sound,” says Dindo Capello (pictured above, on the right). The former Audi factory driver from Italy and the Swiss ex-DTM driver Rahel Frey provide customers and guests with a live, real-world experience of electric mobility on the track in Audi’s first all-electric race taxi.
For the electric chauffeurs, it’s an experience that keeps electrifying them as well. “I’m used to powerful cars but this one I feel is very, very impressive,” says Dindo Capello. The Audi driver with a licence for electric driving on the track adds: “The beaming faces following any taxi ride prove that we’ve achieved our aim: with this automotive concept for the future Audi evokes truly unique feelings.”