Of all the major automakers scrambling to get serious about EVs, Audi has long been considered closest to making the leap. Its all-electric “e-tron quattro” SUV concept bowed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and if all goes according to plan, it’ll be doing battle with the Tesla Model X by 2018. And with a projected 310 mile range, it should be more than enough to make Elon Musk and company plenty nervous.
But back at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the company unveiled an electrified version of its all-new R8 supercar, which it strongly hinted at bringing into production. Dubbed the R8 E-Tron quattro, the company said that the EV would serve as “…a mobile laboratory for developing new electrical concepts and components at Audi.” Making an electric version of the venerable R8 is no small task, however. Sharing its architecture with the Lamborghini Huracán, the gas-powered car comes standard with a 5.2 liter V10, which makes 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque in base trim. For a little extra kick, there’s always the R8 V10 Plus, which puts out a whopping 610 horsepower and 413 pound-feet.
So to say that electrifying an R8 is a little more high stakes than slapping an electric motor in a Fiat 500e or Chevy Spark is an understatement. Plus Audi has been hinting at an R8 EV since 2009, and it has never seemed to make it off the back burner – until now, that is. Audi confirmed that the R8 E-tron is now a go for production in 2016. If there’s any problem, it’s this: The car won’t be making its way to the U.S. anytime soon.
Joining the ranks of the 354-horsepower SQ5 TDI Plus SUV and the 560 horsepower twin-turbo RS 6 Avant Performance wagon, the R8 E-Tron will be hand-built to order, and will only be available in Europe – proving once again that if any automaker delights in keeping its best close to home, it’s Audi. And the company is giving us plenty to be jealous about, too. According to Carscoops:
In this form, known internally as the R8 e-tron 2.0, it features a T-shaped lithium-ion battery placed into the center tunnel behind the passenger compartment that energizes a pair of electric motors on the rear axle that channel 340kW or 456hp and 920 Nm (678.6 lb-ft) to the rear wheels via single-speed transmission. Audi quotes a zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time of 3.9 seconds and a maximum driving range of 450 kilometers (280 mi) on a single charge of the battery.
Astonishingly, thanks to the insane amounts of torque produced by the electric motors, the E-Tron will scramble from zero to 62 in the exact same time as as the V10 powered version. And seeing how the big motor consumes fuel somewhere in the 14 mile per gallon range, its 280 mile range suddenly doesn’t sound that bad.
But Audi won’t have you mistaking the E-Tron for its gas-powered stablemates. The car has a revised front and rear fascia to aid in aerodynamics, and unique chrome strakes front and rear, since the car’s electric motors don’t need quite as much cooling as that big V10. And behind the car’s signature sideblades are a strip of orange LEDs, to let people know exactly what’s overtaking them as you swoop silently past at night.
Seeing how Audi’s been roped even further into parent company Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal recently, launching what could arguably be called the world’s mass-production production EV supercar is by no means a bad move. We’d just love to see what it could do on our side of the pond.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
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