The Dakar Rally is one of the toughest motorsport events on the planet. Not only do competitors have to travel very long distances, but they also have to battle against unforgiving terrain. Audi wants to prove they can win at Dakar and even beat Toyota. The automaker is even ditching Formula E to compete in the series.

680 HP RS Q e-tron is Audi crazy electric Dakar racer image

After their announcement last year, the German marque has now revealed its 2022 Dakar Rally challenger. Meet the RS Q e-tron. It looks mean and unlike any other Audi on sale today. Just look at the roof scoop, for example. Interestingly, Audi managed to incorporate a single frame into the design as well. Despite the radical look of the RS Q e-tron, its most interesting features lies underneath.

680 HP RS Q e-tron is Audi crazy electric Dakar racer image

Unlike most Dakar challengers, it packs a unique powertrain. It’s “fully-electric” to the point that it uses the front and rear electric motors from the 2021 Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E car. But it doesn't run on battery power alone. A DTM-spec 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI engine is used to charge the high voltage battery and acts as a range extender, operating between 4,500 and 6,000 RPM. Audi claims that running at the optimal operating range reduces emissions. At the same time, it solves the issue of recharging the battery in the desert.

680 HP RS Q e-tron is Audi crazy electric Dakar racer image

A third identical electric motor is integrated into the energy converter to recharge the battery while the RS Q e-tron is being driven hard. Additional energy is also recuperated during braking. The battery weighs about 370 kilograms and has a capacity of around 50 kWh.

Audi says the powertrain of the RS Q e-tron outputs a maximum of 500 kW or 680 horsepower. As for weight, it should be at least 2,000kg per Dakar regulations.

680 HP RS Q e-tron is Audi crazy electric Dakar racer image

Testing of Audi’s Dakar challenger has already begun and will continue until the year ends. Considering how early Audi is preparing for the event, do you think they’ll be able to top Toyota at the 2022 Dakar Rally?