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The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo offers a glimpse into an all-electric future that is intense, exciting, and importantly, coming.

11 Oct 2018

What happens when you take a car that was originally designed for a racing simulator video game, and subsequently actually build a fully functioning model in the real world? Well, you get this - the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo.

The car, originally designed for the video game, is now a fully functional car with identical mechanical specifications
The Gran Turismo series of video games have regularly featured concept cars virtually designed by various brands, which push the boundaries of what is possible for a track-going car.

Fans of the game may recall the Red Bull X2010, a car that pushed the theoretical limits of what's possible in a racing car. It utilises a fan underneath the car to effectively suck the car onto the tarmac, allowing it to achieve outrageous cornering speeds.

Indeed, these virtual concepts ask a very simple question, "What if?" Audi, too, has done the same with the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo. But, the brand clearly has an eye on the future. The concept car is an all-electric racer that wants to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Speaking with Editor Julian is 32-year old Swiss racing driver Rahel Frey
Electrification isn't new to the Audi brand. Indeed, the brand already has an all-electric vehicle in the recently unveiled Audi e-tron. So you may be wondering, "What's the point in making a concept with a technology that's already available?"

Well, one part of it is to drive excitement around future technologies. In spite of the clear environmental benefits of hybrid and electric cars, many drivers are still hesitant to embrace these alternative drivetrains. Part of it is down to image - when hybrid and electric cars first came to the market, they were perceived as niche products, but lacked that cool appeal and desirability. With the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo, Audi wants to change that.

How? Design comes first. After all, the visual impact is the first thing that identifies in a car, and the Vision Gran Turismo has that in spades. Sleek, futuristic, almost spaceship-like, the Vision Gran Turismo is stunning to look at. The exterior is just as you'd see the car in the game. Inside, the race car functionality of the car is clear - roll cage, the raw mechanical components of the steering wheel and pedals, racing seats and harnesses, a fire extinguisher, and very little else. 

Rahel Frey is one of the professional drivers who pilots the car at Formula E events as the race taxi
But this isn't just about painting a pretty picture. No, more importantly for Audi, it's about putting people in the car. The car is designed for taxi rides, in the hands of highly capable race drivers. We had a chance to experience a few quick laps in the car (driven by Former DTM racer Rahel Frey no less), and suffice to say it's an intense and outrageous experience. 

Looking at the car's specification sheet is eye-watering - three electric motors with a system output of 805bhp and in the vicinity of 1,000Nm of torque, fully electric quattro all-wheel drive, a 1,450kg kerb weight, and 0-100km/h in 2.5 seconds. 

It may be almost cliche to call it videogame-like, but the car accelerates, brakes and corners with a fierce intensity. It's effectively and essentially a race car, which should come as no surprise because a lot of its parts are sourced from Audi's racing program. It's harsh, visceral and unforgiving. And this isn't even the car at full tilt. Because of the intense heat and short track, the brake, tyre and battery temperatures meant that our pilot was only pushing the car at about 60%.

Cars such as the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo envision the possibility of an electrified future that is exciting and dynamic
Making the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo a reality isn't just a one-off project for Audi to beat its chest (though that certainly is part of it). It's a way for the brand to highlight how it envisions and approaches the future, one where technology and electrification plays an undeniably huge role. And the car will continue to be in the public eye - in conjunction with Formula E, the car with serve as an experiential race taxi at races, with plans to also make it the Formula E safety car.

As Rahel Frey tells us, "Why not build something cool, something that showcases how exciting e-mobility can be?" Effectively, this is Audi telling us, "This is the future. Get excited, and get used to it." Moving forward, we can only expect electrification to continue to grow, as the industry constantly seeks new solutions to problems that we face today. As Frey highlights, "No one knows what the one single solution is, but I think its important that everyone is searching for new solutions." One thing's for sure, it's going to be one hell of a ride.

You can get a first hand look at the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo at the Audi Brand Experience Singapore 2018, which is ongoing until this Sunday.
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