Words: Nathan Chadwick | Photography: Audi
Audi is celebrating the past and future of its infamous Quattro nameplate at Concours on Savile Row, bringing an Audi RS e-tron GT, Sport Quattro and Sport Quattro S1 E2 rally car to the centre of London’s tailoring world, in association with Richard James.
The RS e-tron GT is the latest in a long line of hyper-performance all-wheel-drive Audis, and is the most powerful yet. It is built alongside the R8 supercar at the Audi Sport facilities at Böllinger Höfe in Germany. Production of the e-tron GT was designed without physical prototypes – a first at Audi; instead, tests of the work procedures on the assembly line and the logistic processes were conducted in the virtual domain for the first time, with container planning also performed with the help of VR technology. The bodyshop for the e-tron GT is around 85 percent automated; there are ten stations with a total of 34 robots. Each body moves down the assembly line twice, with a maximum-possible deviation in build of more or less than 0.20 millimetres.
The car produces 440kw (590bhp), or 475kw (771bhp) with peak electrical boost, which means it can hit a limited top speed of 155mph, having kissed goodbye to 62mph in 3.6 seconds, or 3.3 seconds with the electrical acceleration-boost mode. Its 612lb ft of torque gives it sublime shove, too. The car has a range of between 277 and 307 miles, and can fast charge at a rate of 270kW. As such, the car takes just 22.5 minutes to go from five percent battery charge to 80 percent. You’ll be able to see the car up close outside tailor Richard James, alongside a very special rally machine.
Just 20 Sport Quattro S1 E2s were ever built, in a bid to build on the earlier successes of the Audi Quattro in the World Rally Championship. In 1983, Hannu Mikkola won the drivers’ championship, while in 1984 Stig Blomqvist took the drivers’ title while Audi won the manufacturers’ championship. However, as rallying became ever-more popular and manufacturers started to seriously invest, Audi had to keep up with the latest developments. The most extreme version of the Sport Quattro rally car was the S1 E2, which produced between 473bhp and 493bhp from its turbocharged 2.1-litre five-cylinder engine.
Not only did it feature an extreme bodykit to increase downforce, but the weight was cut down to 1090kg; this meant it could hit 62mph in 3.1 seconds. Some versions even used an early forerunner of the DSG semi-automatic gearbox common to many road cars today. The last factory machines were rated at 592bhp, and after Audi withdrew the car from rallying after several tragedies in the sport, Walter Röhrl would pilot an S1 E2 to victory on the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
There’s also a chance to see the road-going version of the Sport Quattro at the concours. Just 224 examples were built, featuring a 2.1-litre five-cylinder engine that produced 302bhp in road trim. It also featured a steeper windscreen than the standard Quattro of the time, to allow for better visibility in the rally cars. In addition, it had a 12.6in-shorter wheelbase, to make the rally cars more agile. Inside it’s luxuriously appointed – in stark contrast to the rally weapons.
Audi is partnering with tailor Richard James for the event. Richard James is the only Savile Row tailor to have won the British Fashion Council’s Designer of the Year award. Established in 1992, it was the first of the modernising New Establishment tailors on the street. Richard James now has a flagship ready-to-wear store as well as dedicated bespoke premises, and all of its bespoke tailoring is produced on Savile Row.