It was a logical inevitability, sooner rather than later Ken Block would surely foray into the burgeoning realm of high-performance EV chicanery and that is exactly what we have here. The official name for this one-off creation is the Audi S1 E-Tron Quattro Hoonitron. And yes, as the name suggests, it draws inspiration directly from the legendary Sport Quattro S1 Pikes Peak racer. It’s not a modified version of that car, however – this is an entirely new machine designed from the ground up to be a modern all-wheel-drive monster, and as such, you won’t hear a screaming turbocharged inline-five engine under the hood. This is an all-electric affair, though sadly at this point, no information is available regarding just how much power it makes.
We can tell you it went from design to reality in an astounding four weeks. This is a process that typically takes a year or more, but according to the video featured at the top of this article, Audi designers were incredibly excited to be part of the project. Several designs were sketched, all using the original S1 as a basis. The winning sketch was then rendered in a computer, and instead of building a scale model, it went straight to a full-scale model. That’s primarily what we see in the video, along with footage of the Hoonitron in its final form.
Apparently, Block has already driven it, too. It’s unclear if any live-action video will follow this debut, but in an interview posted on the Audi Progress website, Block says that he’s “thrilled” after the initial test drives. That’s good because this is the car in which he’ll tackle his next Gymkhana project, appropriately called Electrikhana.
“The S1 Hoonitron combines a lot of what Audi was already famous for in the nineteen-eighties,” says Ken Block, whose enthusiasm for Audi’s rally cars was sparked at an early age. “For instance, the car’s spectacular aerodynamics have now been translated into a totally modern form. I think it’s cool that the Audi designers have been inspired by their own past and uniquely transferred the car’s technologies and appearance into the present.”
Two electric motors, all-wheel drive, power galore, a carbon fiber chassis, and the full safety standards as prescribed by motorsport’s top governing body, the FIA – these are merely the S1 Hoonitron’s statistics. In November, the driver got to know the car for the first time. “Audi gave me the opportunity to test it for a few days in Germany,” says Ken Block. “I’m familiar with a wide variety of cars using internal combustion engines and transmissions, but there were a lot of new things for me to learn here. Spinning into a donut at 150 km/h directly from a standstill – just using my right foot – is an all-new experience for me. Our work was focused on getting the car and I used to each other. My thanks go to the whole Audi Sport squad for their outstanding teamwork.”
The entire development, including the technology, of the S1 Hoonitron, was conducted by Audi Sport at the Neckarsulm location – a perfect fit for the project, because that’s also where the Audi RS e-Tron GT* is produced. Audi Design in Ingolstadt was responsible for the styling, which has been anything but a run-of-the-mill job for Marc Lichte and his team. “When we first heard about this project, the whole team was thrilled immediately: we had the opportunity to develop a car that combines an icon of our brand with the future,” says Audi’s chief designer. The challenges were tremendous: “It was about creating a modern, all-electric interpretation of the S1 Pikes Peak. The timeline was extremely tight: while our design process normally takes one to one-and-a-half years, we only had four weeks from the first drawing to the final design. We were constantly in touch with Ken Block and his team and engaged in intensive exchanges.”
Fans will soon be able to see the US star’s success with the project for themselves: under the working title Elektrikhana, Ken Block and his team are going to produce the next video of his famous Gymkhana series featuring the S1 Hoonitron. “The collaboration with Audi is a very special partnership for me. The brand and its passion for motorsport motivated me to get into rallying,” says Ken Block. “That Audi has now developed this car for me and my team, and has joined us in our next project, has made a dream come true for me. The Hoonitron is writing the next chapter in our history and taking our Gymkhana story into the future.”
A story of the future that everyone at Audi is also looking forward to: “Knowing that we’re developing a car for a video with Ken Block that millions of people around the world are going to watch has provided our team with additional motivation,” says Marc Lichte. “These new inspirations are also immensely important for our daily work. The development of this car will encourage us to approach future projects with an even more open and progressive mindset.”