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Dakar Rally ready: Audi’s RS Q e-tron hybrid returns from testing in Morocco

Our occasional roundup of new car news and notes


Last week, we showed a photo of rally and stunt driver Ken Block checking out Audi’s new hybrid/electric-powered Dakar Rally vehicle, the RS Q e-tron, which had just returned to Germany after testing in Spain and Morocco. 

As Audi prepares for the vehicle’s competitive debut January 1 in the Saudi Arabian desert, it offers additional details and images of the car.

“I cannot emphasize this often enough: The Audi RS Q-e-tron is the most sophisticated vehicle in terms of technology that Audi Sport has ever deployed in racing,” said Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH.

“The Dakar is extremely challenging – even for a conventionally powered vehicle,” added project leader Andreas Roos. “With our powertrain concept, the challenge is distinctly greater. The chassis and suspension do not entail major differences, but we have a lot more components in the car that have to be not only high-performing, lightweight and functioning reliably under the extreme conditions of the Dakar. They also have to be attuned to each other perfectly and work together smoothly.”

Dakar Rally ready: Audi’s RS Q e-tron hybrid returns from testing in Morocco

In a news release, Audi noted, “A conventionally powered Dakar vehicle features two major components: the internal combustion engine and the transmission.”

“In our Audi RS Q e-tron, we have an electric motor at the front axle, an electric motor at the rear axle, the high-voltage battery and the energy converter, consisting of another MGU and the TFSI engine (gasoline-fueled generator) from the DTM,” Roos explained. “And each of these components, for instance, requires a dedicated cooling system. That means we have not only one cooling system in the car but as many as six, including the intercooler and air conditioning system for the driver and co-driver.”

Jeep displays Wrangler Willys edition

At the recent Detroit 4Fast event, Jeep showed off the 2022 Wrangler Willys, a vehicle priced at $39,435 that comes with an Xtreme Recon Package that includes 35-inch tires BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires on 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, a 4.56:1 axle, a 1.5-inch factory suspension lift with specially tuned shock absorbers, 4-wheel performance disc brakes with ABS, and a reinforced rear swing-gate to carry the spare wheel and tire.

The vehicle also has special badging, including a “Willys” hood decal.

Jeep said the changes provide a 47.4-degree approach angle, 26.7-degree breakover, 40.4 degree departure, 12.9 inches of ground clearance and allow forcing through water 33.6 inches in depth.

Honda shares Rugged Roads project vehicle

Following quickly on the reveal of the 2022 Passport Trailsport, Honda has shown the Passport TrailSport Rugged Roads project vehicle which, it said, represents the vision for more off-road capable TrailSport models in the future.

Honda says the project vehicle is ready to go off the grid and features a Jsport suspension lift kit for more ground clearance, Firestone Destination A/T2 all-terrain tires on special 18-inch wheels, custom fabricated recovery points painted TrailSport orange, stainless steel skid plates, lower door brush garnish to protect body panels, roof crossbars, a Dirt Complex tow-hitch tire carrier, flared fenders, and a Sparrow XL rooftop tent.

Nissan offers off-road gear

Nissan’s Nismo performance division unveiled a lineup of off-road accessories for the 2022 Frontier pickup truck at the 2021 Overland Expo West, held this past weekend in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Parts include off-road 4-inch lights, an overhead bed rack and rooftop tent, and performance exhaust. 

“The all-new 2022 Frontier provides adventurers with an authentic midsize truck built to thrive in off-road and overlanding environments,” Michael Soutter, vice president, Nissan Aftersales U.S., was quoted. “The thousands of overlanding enthusiasts at Overland Expo West will see first-hand how these new NISMO Off Road parts can help elevate Frontier to an even higher level of style and capability.”

Caterham shows new Seven 170

Noting that the vehicle is the lightest of its products yet, Caterham has unveiled the new Seven 170, which is offered in S and R variants for street and race use, respectively. The cars are available in kit or factory-build forms. Prices start at £22,990 ($31,445), or as Caterham puts it, for as little as £199.99 ($275) a month.

“The first new model since Caterham’s acquisition by Japan-headquartered automotive group, VT Holdings, the Seven 170 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Seven 160, by complying with Japan’s world-famous Kei (small) car regulations,” the company said in its announcement. “The 170 not only represents the brand’s lightest Seven produced to date, but measuring 1,470 mm in width, it’s 105 mm narrower than anything else within its current range, making it the smallest Seven as well.

“Holding true to the mantra that spawned the original Seven, to ‘simplify and add lightness,’ Caterham’s Seven 170 weighs a little over 440 kg (970 pounds), which in part, is thanks to its 660cc turbocharged Suzuki engine.”

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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