Audi's Le Mans-inspired hypercar could yet see production, alongside a Boxster-sized sportscar
20 April 2013

Audi's Le Mans-inspired road car project is progressing into the design stage, although it has yet to be signed off for production.

Speaking to Autocar at the Shanghai motor show, Audi technical chief Wolfgang Durheimer said there had been "no business decision on series production, but we hope to create one".

A platform for the model has also yet to be finalised, and the engine remains an "open question". To closely link the Le Mans race project to the road car the model would need to be a diesel-electric hybrid, but diesel lacks global appeal, particularly in key markets China and North America.

But new rules set to come into Le Mans in 2014 could swing the favour back towards petrol models, which could in turn make an easier business case for the Le Mans-inspired road car.

Durheimer also said there was space below the R8 for an Audi sports car, as well as above it.

He said a Porsche Boxster-sized model had been in "design, packaging and evaluation" phases, but the project was not a priority. "It's difficult to realise for production," said Durheimer. "We would want to bring technology to the segment, but getting the volume and pricing right for a mainstream sports car would be a challenge."

"Something mid-engined would be the perfect solution for an Audi of this size," he added. "It would have two boots, perfect weight distribution and perfect handling."

Our Verdict

It may not have a posh badge, but when it comes to what really matters the R8 has what it takes to hold its head high among supercar rivals

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22 April 2013

Audi's new-for-2014 LMP1 car *will not* be a petrol engined car, they will continue to use diesel for a few reasons.  Firstly because Audi Sport wants to continue with diesel and they've stated this on numerous occasions, plus secondly and more crucially, they *have to*.  This is because they need to take a diametrically opposite direction to Porsche, their sister company whom they will be racing against next year in LMP1 and are using petrol-hybrid power.  In turn, this is to ensure VAG are prepared to fund both efforts and they don't step on each others' toes when it comes to leveraging their respective marketing strategies and forecourt sales, which at the end of the day, is what it's all about.

Next year's rules are energy-consumption not energy-density derived, therefore in theory at least, one specific solution should not "swing back into favour".

If they do build a "road going" R18 e-tron quattro, it'll have to use a diesel-electro-mechanical drive train, similar to that in the racecar.  Audi have already done a great deal of good to improve the image of diesel, in North America, particuarly.  I see no reason why a diesel hypercar would not continue this trend.

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