Inspired by early quattro ads that seemed to defy gravity, Ken Block hits the challenging landscape that is Swing Arm City in Utah to see what his Audi e-tron can do.
8 April, 2022
It’s Ken Block’s idea of vehicle testing, but you’ll see no measuring equipment or computers set up to record performance. This is more a ‘seat of the pants’ test, to see what a standard Audi e-tron can do when pushed to extremes by someone like Block.
After taking his Audi e-tron GT to Laguna Seca Raceway for some hot laps (complete with a roof storage pod installed), it was only a matter of time before he’d do something a little ‘unorthodox’ with what he affectionately calls his other Audi ‘daily driver’, the one he calls his ‘e-tron off-roader’.
The site in Caineville, Utah, is like an off-road playground for giants – imagine a mountain bike skills area but on a massive scale. It represents the perfect place for Ken to try and enact his own version of Audi’s famous television commercial from 1986, which saw rally driver, Harald Demuth drive an Audi 100 CS quattro up a ski jump in Kaipola, Finland to demonstrate the extraordinary traction of quattro.
The famous demonstration was recreated in 2005 to mark the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking drive, with Demuth again getting behind the wheel – this time of an Audi A6 4.2 quattro – as he drove up the Pitkävuori ski jump.
This famous campaign and other similar Audi re-enactments have had a profound effect on Block, so in his all-electric e-tron SUV, he decided to head out into the Utah back blocks and try a re-enactment of his own.
But as with all things Block, this ‘climbing exercise’ had a twist of its own. After some initial warm up runs to get a sense of the e-tron on the dirt, it was straight at the Knife’s Edge formation – which has appeared in Block’s ‘Terrakhana’ video in the past.
The result – straight up the face of the bizarre desert formation, which turned out to be a 40 degree slope – even more extreme than the 37.5 degrees of the original ‘quattro climb’. And this with two grown men on board, on dirt and with only the most casual of run-ups. Still, best not something to try at home.
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