Audi has a new supercar being prepared and this time it is a diesel-hybrid. It has won LeMan endurance race 11 times and so it may be felt that they would have had their fill of victories but it seems that this is not the case. They have now got the R20 lined up which is a street legal car but also a LeMan racer.
Audi has looked into diesel powered supercars before, when in 208 they built an R8 that had a twin turbo 6.0 litre V12 but due to the lack of a suitable gearbox that could cope with its engine layout and the 737lb ft of torque it never went in to production.
However, after the R18 E-tron won LeMans in 2012 the r&d boss at Audi, Wolfgang Durheimer decided that it was time to build something that would transfer from track to road with a diesel engine that was a hybrid using the same technology.
This new car will be based on the track car that succeeds the R18 E-tron Quattro which was incidentally the first hybrid to win LeMans. It is possible that the car will not make any profit though, but it seems Audi is willing to risk that so that they can get a huge bonus to their brand image.
It does have many features that Audi are known for such as the lightweight body reflected in their Ultra, the superior efficiency as per their E-tron and the grippy dynamics illustrated by the Quattro. Therefore this car is likely to very different to anything seen before.
In 2014 there will be limited on the energy consumption for each lap at LeMans and this will affect the engine on the Audi R20. It is therefore likely to have a 3.7 litre turbo V6 TDI alongside the hybrid system. This is what the R18 currently has and the road car will have similar meaning that it will have 550bhp. It also has a boosted torque curve, huge traction, on-demand boost, short range EV mode and torque vectoring.
There was a R8 E-tron electric supercar with zero emissions that had been on the cards. Some people feel that it is no longer an option at all but it seems like it is not completely been abandoned. However the low sales probably indicate that it is unlikely to be more that the 1000 unit initial production run.
The look of the R20 road car will be similar to the next generation track car so it will really have a racer look. It will have a shark fin engine cover which they always have on the LeMans cars. There will also be a rear spoiler that is adjustable and acts like an air brake. The front and rear wings will be ventilated, there will be LED headlights a downsized grille and a narrow cockpit which will be accessed through swan wing doors. There are active aerodynamics as well so there will be a downforce between the front and rear axle that will mean the car remains stable when going over 200mph.
Inside the racing car there is just one seat, as it is a two seater car with the passenger seat taken away. It is expected that the inside will be intuitive and dynamic with black panel central display, active seats with four point belts and a trick wiper to clean the unusually curved windscreen. There are also plans for a camera that will give a surround view so there will no need for wing mirrors, if future legislation allows this.
The car is expected to be revealed in 2015 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It is then likely that production will start in spring 2016 but with a very limited run of just 100-250 vehicles. Durheimer is very confident that it will be a success and so the price will probably reflect that as well as the performance, low energy and low emissions. It is expected that it will therefore probably be in the range of about £800k.