Ken Block’s partnership with Audi has gone beyond modifying cars to building the one-off S1 E-Tron Quattro Hoonitron for Block’s upcoming “Elektrikhana” video. Block recently showed off this unique build in a deep-dive video.
Unveiled in December 2021, the Hoonitron S1 is a tribute to the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 Pikes Peak, which dominated the legendary hill climb and was one of Block’s earliest automotive inspirations. It’s also the most expensive car ever built for one of Block’s videos. Block estimates about $12 million, but Audi won’t actually say how much it costs.
Working with an automaker has its advantages, not just in how much money can be thrown at a project, but in how quickly a car can get built. The Hoonitron took about six months to complete, compared to about two years for Block’s “Hoonicorn” Ford Mustang. And the Hoonicorn was based on an existing car.
The bespoke chassis and electric powertrain yielded a car that’s a bit longer and wider than the original S1 Pikes Peak, while maintaining that car’s proportions. Four battery packs from a Q7 plug-in hybrid (a model not sold in the U.S.) sit low in the middle of the chassis. They provide enough range for a full day’s video filming, with a charging break during lunch.
The packs’ position optimize weight distribution and lower the center of gravity. That also means Block sits on top of the batteries, in a reclined, elevated-leg position that’s more Formula 1 car than rally car.
An electric motor is positioned at each axle for all-wheel drive (one motor can also be disengaged for rear-wheel drive). They power the wheels through conventional differentials, which are still necessary despite the motors’ instant torque because they offer greater control for initiating and maintaining drifts. The motors are the same ones used in Formula E racing, specifically from Audi’s Season 5 race car. Audi quit Formula E after Season 7 to focus on its Dakar Rally and LMDh sports car programs.
The electric powertrain required some adjustments for Block’s driving style. With no clutch or conventional handbrake, he has to rely more on throttle modulation to get the optimal amount of wheelspin for drifting and donuts. On the other hand, electric motors’ instant torque provides quicker acceleration, and the Hoonitron can even be driven in reverse at full speed (when a software limiter is disengaged, that is).
Block usual kills about 40 tires when making a Gymkhana video. The Hoonitron claimed more than 100 tires.
The Hoonitron also features custom Rotiform wheels inspired by the the original Quattro S1 wheels. They match the S1-inspired bodywork, which includes a NACA duct that draws cooling air into a series of rear-mounted radiators. However, the suspension has been updated to a modern rally-style setup, with asymmetric components that can be swapped to other corners of the car, reducing the amount of spares that need to be brought to a shoot.
For much more on the design and engineering of the Hoonitron, click on the video above.
It won’t be long before we get to see the Hoonitron in action. “Electrikhana” premieres on YouTube Oct. 25. Stay tuned.
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