FORMULA E: DANIEL ABT TESTS AUDI E-TRON IN NAMIBIA
Daniel Abt grew up with Audi’s most fabulous vehicles. But even for an expert like him, the first meeting with the new Audi e-tron turns into a special event. “What a cool beauty, this first all-electric Audi! Plus, what perfect conditions here in Namibia for my first test of the Audi e-tron.” In the hot salt pans and savannas of Africa’s southwest with temperatures of nearly 40 degrees, the Audi Formula E factory driver takes the wheel of the first fully electric production vehicle of the brand with the four rings.
In focus at the test: the superbly agile driving dynamics, powerful traction and confident directional stability delivered by this all-wheel drive luxury SUV. The look of his test object thrills Daniel Abt as he gets into the car: “Just because it’s fully electric, this car has not been artificially trimmed for a futuristic look. Really cool, the new Audi e-tron is just beautifully modern!”
“Just like home! You don’t get the feeling of sitting in a space shuttle here.” This is Daniel Abt’s reaction after getting into the driver’s seat. Ample space and the materials used are fully in line with the typical characteristics of a luxury car of the Audi brand. The cockpit of the Audi e-tron features the MMI Navigation plus infotainment system including LTE Advanced and a WLAN hotspot as standard equipment.
Standard as well is comprehensive internet connectivity: the e-tron route planner (shows suitable routes including charging points), automated billing at charging columns, smartphone-based remote control. “Really cool, too, are the seams in the seats that look like electrical conductors,” Daniel Abt says, emphasising his love of visual detail.
CAMERA INSTEAD OF MIRRORS
Driving off without a loud engine sound is routine business for Daniel Abt. Since the 2014 season he has contested all 45 races of the fully electric Formula E racing series held to date. “The way this E-SUV takes off is really awesome,” says Abt. “When you depress the accelerator pedal the car is propelled so directly and with such power, that’s super-cool.” Primarily responsible for the agile character of the Audi e-tron that weighs 2.5 tonnes are its two electric motors. One is located at the front axle and the other one at the rear. Together, they deliver output of near-300 kW (408 hp). They accelerate the vehicle from zero to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds and power it to a top speed of 200 km/h.
PROGRESS THROUGH E-QUATTRO
The Audi e-tron as standard equipment uses an electric all-wheel drive system, the new generation of the quattro concept developed by Audi nearly 40 years ago. It permanently and fully variably controls the ideal distribution of the drive torque between the two axles. To achieve maximum efficiency, the electric SUV mainly uses its rear electric motor.
If necessary, the propulsion forces are predictively shifted to the front axle – even before slip, under- or oversteer occur on slippery roads or in fast cornering. The progress achieved by e-quattro impresses factory driver Daniel Abt: “Due to everything being controlled electronically, this new Audi all-wheel drive responds even faster and even more precisely than its predecessors all of which were already outstanding as well.”
DRIFTING BY CHOICE
“You can adapt the Audi e-tron exactly to suit your driving preferences via its various smart assistance systems. I think that’s mega,” says Daniel Abt. During his test in Namibia, for example, the Formula E racer selected the driving modes like this: ESC (electronic stability control) to ‘sport’ and drive select (driving dynamics system to ‘auto’.
This selection results in the following response when cornering at excessive speed: grip is initially lost at the front and then at the rear axle. The front pushes straight on while the rear pushes outwards off the direction of travel. The electronic stability control system intervenes via the drive system and chassis, instantaneously shifting the propulsive torque to the outside cornering wheels and in the direction of the front axle. In this way, the fine-tuned interaction between the two electric motors and precisely coordinated braking interventions of the electronic locks restores the lost traction and puts the Audi e-tron back on a stable track.
“The car understands and detects critical driving situations and automatically corrects them,” explains Daniel Abt. If the ESC in the Audi e-tron is deactivated, mastering critical cornering situations requires the driving skills of someone who knows what they’re doing at the wheel.
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