Recognised as one of the most challenging racetracks in the world, more than 80% of the Nurburgring in Germany must be driven with full power.
In addition to that, 8,000 kilometres of endurance testing on the North Loop easily equates to a car's entire lifetime – a tough challenge. This is why the famous ‘North Loop’ is the benchmark for every performance car.
More than a Racetrack
“The North Loop represents the ultimate endurance test in our development and coordination work,” explains Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “Every RS model undergoes at least 8,000 kilometres of testing here. The track provides us with detailed information about the durability of our parts under extreme conditions and specifics about the suspension. With the RS Q8, our main focus was on the setup of the springs, dampers, and the ESP as well as the performance characteristics of the roll stabilisation and the sport differential.”
Not only that, but the North Loop tells a driver how the car is responding to the track. It reveals its strengths and weaknesses, where it is easier to control and when it is at its limits on the track. Something Frank Stippler knows all about.
Frank Stippler is one of the people who knows the North Loop best. He's closely connected with Audi Sport as a racing driver and engineer. Not only did he win the 24 Hour races of Spa and the Nurburgring, but he has been part of the team from the very beginning, debuting the Audi R8 LMS in 2009. He is even a record holder in an Audi RS, setting a North Loop record of 7 minutes and 42.253 seconds – an added bonus whilst out testing an Audi Q model.
The Nurburgring is only part of the RS testing programme. Engineers from Audi Sport GmbH spent around two years on the road in the RS Q8, covering more than 1.2 million kilometres, with various development vehicles and prototypes.
Testing the high-speed circular track in Italy was used to test resilience at a constant high speed. The suspension and control systems were tested in the icy conditions of Scandinavia. The heat and elevation in South Africa presented the air conditioning, engine cooling and performance characteristics with special challenges. All with the aim to produce an outstanding RS model.
A Unique Design
Inspired by the R8 and reminiscent of the Audi Sport Quattro, the RS models incorporate some iconic Audi features into the design. This includes horizontal slits between the grille and the hood, air inlets and other design features such as the design of the wings, the width of the model itself and the wheel arches. All designed to look like an Audi and to perform like an Audi RS.
Produced at Four Locations
RS models are produced at various different locations. The RS 3 Sportback, the Avant, Coupe and RS 5 Sportback are made at the German plant in Ingolstadt. The TT RS Coupe and Roadster, the RS Q3 and the RS Q3 Sportback are produced in Hungary. At the Neckarsulm site, the RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback are built. The RS Q8 is produced at the Slovakian plant in Bratislava. All of the models are produced on shared systems and the Audi press shops supply the specific sheet metal parts required to be assembled in the body shop.
Other parts such as the exhaust system, bumpers and wheels complete the RS models and once completed, each model is checked on a road course before finally being handed over to the customer.
The headquarters of Audi Sport GmbH can be found close by the Neckarsulm plant, which is where the sports and racing cars are designed and built in large part by hand. Soon the Audi e-tron GT will join the RS family there too.