Ingolstadt, Germany - This is the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo, originally created as a virtual car for ‘Vision Gran Turismo’, the 15th anniversary edition of Sony’s Playstation's cult-status street racing video game.

Looks real, doesn’t it? That’s because it is real - the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo has made the leap from screen to street, thanks to enthusiasts at Audi’s pre-production centre in Ingolstadt, who developed and built this real-life, fully functional version in just 11 months.

And it’s not just for show - starting on 14 April in Rome, it’ll be used as a ‘race taxi’ at Formula E electric-car races on street circuits around the world, giving VIP guests the chance to see what the circuits look and feel like from the seat of a real-life electric GT racing car.

A number of carmakers were approached to create futuristic concepts for ‘Vision Gran Turismo’ and quite a few were later built as full-scale models for display at motor shows - but this, says Audi, is the first one from the series to go into service on real-world race circuits.

“This is what we are particularly proud of,” said Audi chief designer Marc Lichte. “The design of a virtual car allows you much greater freedom to create concepts for which the technology doesn’t yet exist, but we didn’t want to put a purely fictitious concept on wheels - it had to be a fully functional car.”

The styling incorporates elements from Audi’s new design language, such as the body-colour inverted single frame that will become a signature feature of future electric Audis, but the livery echoes the all-conquering Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO that dominated the 1989 IMSA-GTO racing series with drivers such as Hans-Joachim Stuck, Walter Röhrl, Hurley Haywood and Scott Goodyear.

0-100 in 2.5s

The new race taxi also has all-wheel drive, with three electric motors of 200kW each, two on the rear axle and one on the front, with variable quattro drive. With a total of 600kW and a kerb weight of 1450kg, the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo has a power to weight ratio of 414kW per ton, and will launch off the line to 100km/h in less than 2.5 seconds.

It’ll be in use at all the European round of Formula E and a number of other events in 2018, in the hands of either DTM star Rahel Frey or Le Mans winner Dindo Capello.

IOL Motoring