Here's proof that Audi wants to join the supercar elite. Here's the 214mph Le Mans Quattro, and a super-fast production version of this car is pencilled in for 2006.
A quick glance at the spec sheet is all it takes to realise the serious intent of the Audi supercar: a bi-turbo V10 developing 602bhp; space-age composite construction and brakes; and 0-62mph in just 3.7sec.
Why are the Italians upset? Because the new Audi borrows its basic technology, drivetrain and suspension from Lamborghini's own recently launched V10 supercar, the Gallardo. And adds not one, but two turbos.
With a Lambo-bashing output of 602bhp, the Audi boasts a power-to-weight ratio that will make a Gallardo look sick, and humbles even its Murcielago big brother. Engineers have stretched the Lambo's wheelbase by 90mm and dressed the alloy spaceframe in a new set of clothes.
Powering the 602bhp two-seat coup is the same 40-valve bi-turbo direct-injection V10 that showed up earlier this year in the Nuvolari concept car. In normally aspirated 493bhp form, the
5.0-litre 90deg V10 (itself a development of Audi's V8) first appeared in the Gallardo.
Audi claims the Le Mans Quattro is restricted to 155mph, but there is a growing trend among German manufacturers to break their own voluntary 155mph top limit with bona fide supercars (Porsche, and now Mercedes with the McLaren SLR). Expect Audi's new supercar to be allowed to run to at least 186mph maximum, and perhaps even to the claimed 214mph top speed. What, after all, is the point of a supercar if you don't get bragging rights to the 200mph club?