Learning the leisure

The Audi RS e-tron GT is a crazy fast sports car. On the one hand. On the other, it is so much more. Understanding this is a philosophical challenge. You don't have to travel to Greece for that. But the weather is nicer there.
Text Matthias Mederer
Photo Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures

"Within large historical periods, the entire way of thinking of human collectivities also changes the way of their sensory perception." A beautiful sentence. Very reassuring. And that really says it all about electromobility in general and the new Audi RS e-tron GT in particular. The only thing is that I probably won't get away with this stunt. Neither with you, dear reader, nor with the text editor, let alone with the editor-in-chief. So I might as well write a few more words right away…

Unfortunately, Benjamin was not able to get directly involved with the Audi RS e-tron GT for reasons of contemporary history.

I read this sentence in Walter Benjamin's Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, third edition. Unfortunately, Benjamin was not able to get directly involved with the Audi RS e-tron GT for reasons of contemporary history. This would have been particularly interesting, because he could certainly have considered the significance of this electrically powered car with a permanent propulsive force of 830 Newton meters from 646 hp in the overall historical context of human mobility with a view to the car as a usable machine for the masses and a work of art for the individual enthusiast far better than I could.

But well. It is what it is. And right now, it's very fast. It's really exhilarating how the e-tron GT pulls off in the RS variant. Impressive how casually the Audi shakes its performance out of its sleeve. There's no more effort, no more preparation phase through a pressure-building-rev explosion-fueled crescendo in search of the appropriate torque peak. One thought. Insane acceleration. Near-silent. That's how it is in the RS e-tron GT. The process of driving is so impressively modern in this car that as a driver you feel you have to slow down a bit here and there out of consideration, so as not to drive away from the great historical period in the direction of the future.

After all, this is probably the biggest challenge currently facing electromobility in general: it's too fast. Not only physically, but also in the context of society as a whole. This may sound all the more perplexing to many because they have been denouncing the inertia of mobility change on this very point for years and are fed up with it. They forget that people are fundamentally skeptical of change. This is all the more true the larger the social group. And in terms of individual mobility, this group is now quite considerable, not to say global. There's even a car on the moon. Incidentally, it also has an advanced electric drive system.

There's even a car on the moon. Incidentally, it also has an advanced electric drive system.

And yet there are still a great many people who have had no experience at all with electromobility. (Not counting the bumper cars at the carnival). In other words, the way their senses perceive mobility is still unalterably coupled to the starting of an internal combustion engine that goes wroom wroom, to the somewhat jerky start-up, the torque that builds up and the acceleration that increases with it, the brief nod of the head when shifting gears, the smell of gasoline and diesel at the gas station - all of these are natural and learned things that very many people associate with driving a car.

And none of this is present in the Audi RS e-tron GT or in any other electric vehicle. You have to get used to it. That happens very quickly. But only once you're sitting behind the wheel. That's the place people have to get to. Or be brought to. And only then can a car like this Audi once again become a seductive leisure, a stimulating example that forms the projection surface for our dreams of the future. Just like the BMX bike, the first moped, or the first car with an internal combustion engine. Discovering the big wide world. The classic.

"The way our senses perceive mobility is still unalterably coupled to the starting of an internal combustion engine that goes wroom wroom."

Stopover on the coast, somewhere halfway between Rhodes Town and Kritina on the coastal road Epar.Od. Kalavardas-Empona. What a historic place this island is! What battles had been fought here on land and sea in the past millennia! What myths and legends were born here? This futuristic whirring Audi with its peculiar neon-orange-black-grey camouflage optics immediately attracts the attention of the people, here, where most of them are on the road with a moped. Or an old Toyota Hilux.

I take a strawberry smoothie and linger in the subjunctive a little longer: How would people have reacted to this Audi 2,000 years ago? They would probably have been very frightened by this strange car. But also curious. Perhaps even a bit more curious than people today. They would probably have asked themselves which God would appear to them and with which intentions he would come to them.

It cannot be denied that the car with an internal combustion engine has a certain tradition. But already Benjamin stated that tradition itself is "something quite living, something extraordinarily changeable". He used an ancient statue of Venus as an example. Among the Greeks, she was the object of a cult, but the medieval clerics saw an ominous idol in her. It would be a scoundrel to derive a comparison for the combustion engine from this.

Well, the strawberry smoothie is almost finished. There's still a sip left in the glass and thus a last moment for the question of how people will look at this Audi in 2,000 years? Perhaps not at all, if the apocalypse-believers have their way. Because then mankind will only have something between a few hours and a few decades, depending on the calculation model and depending on when something as mundane as a stone might fall on our heads.

What we can say with some certainty: should there be something resembling humans in 2,000 years, then they will look at our time with the necessary distance - temporally and probably geographically.Here there is already sufficient ambition in the direction of Mars and beyond. By the way, also on the part of a certain Elon Musk. Anyone who laughs at this should briefly remember that Elon Musk tried to get into a conversation with women at parties in South Africa as early as the end of the 1980s by asking them whether they thought about electric cars as much as he did. The last sip of strawberry smoothie. Moving on.

We're on the road in a development vehicle, prototype status. The interior is completely covered and protected from prying eyes. A pretty cool look actually. Encourage us to at least offer this as an option for series production. Sensory perception also happens visually. In terms of driving dynamics, everything is already at production level anyway. All-wheel steering, chassis, tungsten carbide brakes with a surface as hard as diamonds. This reduces particulate emissions by 90 percent, and they are also more durable than steel. The low center of gravity thanks to the battery in the floor of the car, combined with the suspension and steering and that wall of torque, makes this car snap out of the corners like a go-kart. Absolutely addictive!

How would people have reacted to this Audi 2,000 years ago?

But you don't actually want to push the e-tron GT to the limit. With all the assistants and support that the e-tron GT offers, at some point you’re just happy sitting there and holding the steering wheel for a bit. In everyday life, that's quite wonderful. The experts probably call it deceleration. A whole new way of driving. It's impressive, quite honestly. You switch on the cruise control and the Audi hooks into an invisible, virtual guard rail. It reads the traffic signs, senses the road and its boundaries, traces the course of curves, observes and analyzes other road users and adapts to them, anticipates intersections, turns, and, of course, other people. This significantly expands the sensory experience of driving to include the aspect of support and assistance. The ease of driving is thus raised to a new level.

That, too, takes some getting used to.

Audi e-tron GT
Drive system: Zwei E-Motoren
Output: 475 kW (646 PS)
Torque: 830 Nm
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3,5 s
Vmax: 250 km/h

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