Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Monday 7th April 2008

Audi R8 V12 TDI

Audi is serious about making a diesel supercar. Kevin Hackett finds out what it would be like...



Speed, as we say at PistonHeads, matters. There’s simply nothing quite like it to make a driver feel alive; the sensation of dropping a gear, flooring the loud pedal and being pinned into your seat is what it’s all about for many of us. And what is the fuel we need for these thrills; the lead we need in our pencils; the blood we must have in our veins? Petrol.


Diesel? That’s the fuel for sales reps and blue-rinsed grannies isn’t it? Audi reckons not and, to make their point in the greatest possible style, they’ve invited a group of journalists to Miami so they can gauge opinion and decide whether or not to put their latest concept car into production. It is the world’s first diesel supercar: the R8 TDI Le Mans. Diesel. Just say the word out loud and think of all the connotations, the baggage that comes with it. Oily, smelly, dirty, rattly, slow – hardly the stuff of supercars, is it? But in recent years diesel cars have been experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to increased refinement levels and proper exploitation of the one thing diesel engines do better than their petrol-gulping equivalents: torque.

My biggest fear regarding the R8 TDI wasn’t whether it could perform like a true supercar but rather, when starting it from cold, if it would sound like a taxi. If the very notion of a diesel engine in a supercar has a problem then it’s to do with noise. And the normal R8 does sound good, with proper V8 burbles and grunts. Why risk ruining the things that make the R8 and cars like it so special? Well, after two successive wins at the Le Mans 24hrs using diesel power, the time is undoubtedly right for Audi to flex its muscles and show what this engineering can do for roadgoing sports cars. Some people believe that diesel is the fuel of Satan. And the Audi, as it basks in the welcome Miami sunshine, does look devilishly good. The team tasked with turning it into some sort of reality was made of just three people, headed by the man who is here to make sure this R8 doesn’t come to an untimely end: Thomas Kräuter.


He tells me they had only three months to build it once the project got the green light. There were problems initially because the V12 diesel lump is too big for the R8’s engine bay. So the rear bulkhead was shifted forward by 70mm to make room. Apart from sacrificing cabin space, there was no room to fit sound insulation so the risk of this car sounding like a bag of spanners is starting to look very real. Cooling was an issue too, neatly addressed by incorporating massive air intakes in the nose, larger side-blades and extra scoops along the flanks, and a big NACA duct on the funky glass roof which channels air straight into the engine. Kräuter reckons a production version would be less fussy but I really like the look of this thing.

When the car was star of the recent Detroit and Geneva motor shows, it had different wheels but otherwise it remains the same. Behind the standard R8 alloys are huge carbon fibre brakes and there’s an aluminium strip that links the front and rear diffusers.


This metal trim makes the diesel R8 look lower than normal, but it’s an optical illusion. Open the driver’s door and it’s all very familiar R8 inside – which is a relief. On the steering wheel is a red start/stop button sitting atop a three-position lever which controls the ride settings. Press the button once and the instrument needles swing from left to right and back again. It looks fancy and takes barely a second but in that time something very important has happened: the heater plugs have warmed the V12’s combustion chambers.

With another prod of the red button, the starter motor whirrs and ignites six litres of Le Mans-developed engineering. My fears of it sounding like a diesel prove unfounded because, honestly, there’s very little sound at all, apart from the whooshing of air and soft whirring of the mechanical bits doing their stuff. Even without any sound insulation, the noise is incredibly refined and rather difficult to describe; which, for a writer, is a bit of a nightmare.

Setting off for a bit of Miami freeway action, a Highway Patrol officer kindly keeps the traffic back and I’m treated to a wide, open, empty stretch of Florida’s finest road surfaces.


I still have the car’s chaperone next to me and he’s here to make sure I don’t disintegrate the temporary A4 transmission with full-bore standing starts. He requests I take it easy through first and second but after that I can take the revs a lot higher. Into third and I floor the throttle. Instantly the R8 devours the road, tearing toward the horizon. The noise changes too, with all that cooling air being sucked in over our heads, it’s like being inside a jet fighter. The effect is quite astonishing and this is with the engine de-tuned to half its potential. With the limits removed it would produce 738 lb ft (1000Nm) of twist. At 55mph I back off, safe in the knowledge that this unique car’s gearbox is still in one piece and that the potential for truly huge speed is definitely there for the taking.

To put this R8’s torque output into some sort of perspective, a normal R8 musters less than half that and a new 911 Turbo has 457 lb ft. So it should be obvious that this R8 provides a unique driving experience – and it is. Of course, it won’t be for everyone and Audi knows that. That a normal R8 revs to 8250rpm and this one redlines at 5000rpm will be enough to dissuade huge numbers from reaching into their pockets. However, to dismiss this concept because it’s different would be foolish. It’s quite an achievement and I sincerely hope it reaches production because the technology and the engineering packed into it are astonishing. Audi reckons it’ll return an average of 28.5mpg, but it’s up to you if you think that economy is important in a supercar.


Speed matters; of course it does. But when diesel power is this damn good, this refined, perhaps it’s worth putting on the rubber gloves at the filling station – somewhere we’ll be visiting less frequently in future by the looks of things. Just two words for the guys at Audi: build it.

Kevin Hackett
2 3 ... 7 8
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

Agoogy

Original Poster:

7,100 posts

133 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
awesome machine.... nothing with those kind of engine outputs was going to be that disappointing, the fact that it sounds great and returns semi decent mpg is a bonus not a reason for it's being...

its the beginning of new dawn people wink future generations will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about, and wonder what was THAT special about petrol...they both have a place, but neither is the restricted in where it best operates.... choice is good!

hehe

jamesgrrr

2,971 posts

106 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
The front end transforms the look of the car, it now looks so evil!

cusimar9

11 posts

98 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
You floored it in 3rd gear and backed off at 55mph? It must have been pulling an almighty 3000rpm, a great indication of the car's potential acceleration...

cowellsj

681 posts

84 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
should be pretty spectacular on the performance front.

Balmoral Green

30,030 posts

133 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
'Its emission levels of 250g of CO2 per kilometre are normally associated with city cars'

Edited to be more civil smile

Edited by Balmoral Green on Monday 7th April 18:13

Advertisement

neon_fox

334 posts

169 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
"Its emission levels of 250g of CO2 per kilometre are normally associated with city cars"

What planet are you on Kevin? I expect better reporting than this!

A Ford S-Max 7-seat people carrier with a 2.5L petrol engine has emissions of 224g/km CO2. The proposed new London Congestion Charge 'gas guzzler' limit is 225g/km - in no way shape or form could the V12 engine in the R8 diesel be described as 'fuel-efficient' or like a 'city car' (except by way of comparison to a Murceliago or a Routemaster!)

Dave D

696 posts

138 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
news article said:
Its emission levels of 250g of CO2 per kilometre are normally associated with city cars
rofl

Yeah the kind of cars you normally see in the city...

244g/km
241g/km
254g/km
265g/km

A little way to go on that one rather than just sticking turbos on the petrol model.

Kevin Hackett

113 posts

111 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
Alright - you got me there! I should've said 'normal' instead of 'city' I suppose but it's still not bad for a 6-litre V12 I'm sure you'll agree.

As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.

It's always difficult to cover stories like this when space is at a premium but trust me, this car will be phenomenal.

ferrisbueller

16,035 posts

112 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
Kevin Hackett said:
As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.
Or about the same as another car with 369lb.ft of torque at low rpm?

ETA.

Autocar also accelerated to the very same 55mph. Funny old game scratchchin

Edited by ferrisbueller on Monday 7th April 18:14

collateral

7,238 posts

103 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
Kevin Hackett said:
Alright - you got me there! I should've said 'normal' instead of 'city' I suppose but it's still not bad for a 6-litre V12 I'm sure you'll agree.

As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.

It's always difficult to cover stories like this when space is at a premium but trust me, this car will be phenomenal.
Sush, I'm sure us on here who haven't even laid eyes on one know more than you who's actually driven it!

Looks AMAZING in red

ETA, who's going to be first to make a wisecrack about an Audi employee called Krauter? hehe

Edited by collateral on Monday 7th April 18:39

Agoogy

Original Poster:

7,100 posts

133 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
ferrisbueller said:
Kevin Hackett said:
As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.
Or about the same as another car with 369lb.ft of torque at low rpm?

ETA.

Autocar also accelerated to the very same 55mph. Funny old game scratchchin
funny old game indeed, had this been a v12 petrol supercar that looked that good, accelerating with super natural force..we'd all be dribbling into our fantasy garages...

It certainly sounds that what will delivered will surpass that of derv supporters and shut petrol only fanboys right up.

stuartbuckell

3,008 posts

111 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
Easy in 1st and 2nd and only allowed to go to 35MPH or 55MPH? LOL!

So that'll be fun then! rolleyes

Surely they could have got the R8 transmission in there? Rather than the A4? Or do you think it was a size thing?

Seems a bit daft to me, wouldn't have taken them much to harden 1st and 2nd for proper reviews ...

Something a bit fishy!

ferrisbueller

16,035 posts

112 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
Agoogy said:
ferrisbueller said:
Kevin Hackett said:
As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.
Or about the same as another car with 369lb.ft of torque at low rpm?

ETA.

Autocar also accelerated to the very same 55mph. Funny old game scratchchin
funny old game indeed, had this been a v12 petrol supercar that looked that good, accelerating with super natural force..we'd all be dribbling into our fantasy garages...

It certainly sounds that what will delivered will surpass that of derv supporters and shut petrol only fanboys right up.
I think you miss my point. "Supernatural force" is clearly over egging things a little, no? In reality that car, admittedly a prototype, is going to be no quicker than a 335d given the power on tap and the weight.

I'm all for the V12 TDi R8 being a great bit of kit. Indeed, I think it will be but let's try and stick with reality. I conceded the obligation to comment on the performance but why not just say it's not production ready and so it can't be assessed. To say "Supernatural force" is to suggest serious performance. This indicates that either the car isn't as limited as Audi said, or that because it looks fast and should be fast then the driver thought it was.


ferrisbueller

16,035 posts

112 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
stuartbuckell said:
Easy in 1st and 2nd and only allowed to go to 35MPH or 55MPH? LOL!

So that'll be fun then! rolleyes

Surely they could have got the R8 transmission in there? Rather than the A4? Or do you think it was a size thing?

Seems a bit daft to me, wouldn't have taken them much to harden 1st and 2nd for proper reviews ...

Something a bit fishy!
They don't have a production gearbox ready yet so stuck in the most readily available suitable 'box apparently.

planetdave

9,915 posts

138 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
I cant help but think the V8 and V10 versions would be better that this........*speachless* creation given forced induction.


dxb335d

2,905 posts

80 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
I think my re-mapped 335d (340+bhp and 530ib-ft) is fast enough, god knows how fast that beast will be!


Carlos

ross_stig

14,785 posts

97 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
ferrisbueller said:
Agoogy said:
ferrisbueller said:
Kevin Hackett said:
As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.
Or about the same as another car with 369lb.ft of torque at low rpm?

ETA.

Autocar also accelerated to the very same 55mph. Funny old game scratchchin
funny old game indeed, had this been a v12 petrol supercar that looked that good, accelerating with super natural force..we'd all be dribbling into our fantasy garages...

It certainly sounds that what will delivered will surpass that of derv supporters and shut petrol only fanboys right up.
I think you miss my point. "Supernatural force" is clearly over egging things a little, no? In reality that car, admittedly a prototype, is going to be no quicker than a 335d given the power on tap and the weight.

I'm all for the V12 TDi R8 being a great bit of kit. Indeed, I think it will be but let's try and stick with reality. I conceded the obligation to comment on the performance but why not just say it's not production ready and so it can't be assessed. To say "Supernatural force" is to suggest serious performance. This indicates that either the car isn't as limited as Audi said, or that because it looks fast and should be fast then the driver thought it was.
no quicker than a 335d?? errrr. when/if they make it i would bet you a world of money that it will be quicker.

forza whites

2,555 posts

80 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
V10 version exists....its called a Gallardo!!

planetdave said:
I cant help but think the V8 and V10 versions would be better that this........*speachless* creation given forced induction.

Kevin Hackett

113 posts

111 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
The R8 trannie wouldn't fit because of the size of the V12. The team had three months from the time they were asked to create a driveable car in time for the Detroit motor show. So there was never any way they'd get a bespoke gearbox in time. Same goes for suspension components and plenty of other aspects but hats off to Audi for turning this round in such a short time and letting idiots like us actually drive it.

As for Autocar, Matt managed 35mph, not 55 and the concensus of opinion was that they were a bit more relaxed with our group as we were the last ones to try it before it was sent back to Germany.

ferrisbueller

16,035 posts

112 months

[news] 
Monday 7th April 2008 quote quote all
ross_stig said:
ferrisbueller said:
Agoogy said:
ferrisbueller said:
Kevin Hackett said:
As for the bit about third gear acceleration, I'm amazed I got away with as much as I did. Audi weren't wanting anyone to go above 35mph because they hadn't fitted a suitable transmission to it. I selected third at about 15mph and the effect was almost like a supernatural force.
Or about the same as another car with 369lb.ft of torque at low rpm?

ETA.

Autocar also accelerated to the very same 55mph. Funny old game scratchchin
funny old game indeed, had this been a v12 petrol supercar that looked that good, accelerating with super natural force..we'd all be dribbling into our fantasy garages...

It certainly sounds that what will delivered will surpass that of derv supporters and shut petrol only fanboys right up.
I think you miss my point. "Supernatural force" is clearly over egging things a little, no? In reality that car, admittedly a prototype, is going to be no quicker than a 335d given the power on tap and the weight.

I'm all for the V12 TDi R8 being a great bit of kit. Indeed, I think it will be but let's try and stick with reality. I conceded the obligation to comment on the performance but why not just say it's not production ready and so it can't be assessed. To say "Supernatural force" is to suggest serious performance. This indicates that either the car isn't as limited as Audi said, or that because it looks fast and should be fast then the driver thought it was.
no quicker than a 335d?? errrr. when/if they make it i would bet you a world of money that it will be quicker.
and this time, try reading what I wrote.........
2 3 ... 7 8
Reply to Topic