Audi and Ducati jointly launched their newest off-roading models at a press event in Sardinia.
Taking on Cross Country Rally racing, Audi has demonstrated winning innovation and technical features with their new RS Q e-tron.
Ducati’s DesertX joins the adventure market segment it’s traditionally left untouched.
What’s more fun than loose surfaces and a whole lot of suspension travel? Adding gobs of power to the mix, of course. Audi and Ducati have done exactly that with their new RS Q e-tron and DesertX models, which they recently debuted at an off-roading event on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Audi and Ducati dressed their newborns up in a matching anthracite livery and set them loose on a dirt circuit. Both models promise off-road prowess, and the RS Q e-tron has already developed a rally pedigree of its own. After a rocky start at the Dakar Rally in January, the car secured its first overall win at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March. Driven by Formula-E electric motors at each axle, the car’s 50.0-kWh battery is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four out of Audi’s RS5 Turbo DTM car and produces 671 horsepower. The steel tube chassis weighs just over 4400 lbs and claims a 0-60 mph time of less than 4.5 seconds on loose surfaces.
“What Audi has achieved with this concept is technically unique and a real benefit for us drivers,” Audi Factory driver Carlos Sainz said. “The event in Sardinia was great to communicate the benefits of the electric drive.”
Ducati’s DesertX, on the other hand, is a new foray for the legendary sport and touring motorcycle manufacturer. While Ducati is no stranger to the adventure touring and scrambler markets—even winning the Turkish Transanatolia Rally in 2020—the DesertX represents a commitment to the off-road market. Competing with benchmarked favorites like Honda’s Africa Twin and KTM’s 890 Adventure R , Ducati has big shoes to fill.
With a 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear wheel, Ducati is on the right track. The 445-lb DesertX will be powered by the 937cc Testastretta L-twin originally introduced in the Hypermotard 939. The narrow-headed engine produces 110 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque. Six different ride modes and four progressive power settings are sure to keep everyone but the purists happy. Sprung with 9.1 inches and 8.7 inches of front and rear suspension travel, respectively, and almost 10 inches of ground clearance, Ducati hopes to prove that the rally-pod headlights and skid plate are more than just a styling exercise.
Ducati’s DesertX will roll into U.S. dealers in June, though European dealers will have the bike by the end of May. At an MSRP of $16,795, the DesertX will be slightly more expensive than its direct competitors like the Africa Twin or Husqvarna’s new Norden 901. That said, the riding impressions of the DesertX are yet to be seen, and the bellow of an 11-degree L-twin is hard to beat.
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