Renowned world wide for its highly successful diesel-hybrid Le Mans racecars, Audi is planning to introduce a road-going diesel-hybrid supercar in 2017, codenamed the Audi R20.
Audi development chief Wolfgang Durheimer has previously indicated that the challenge of transferring racecar technology to the road is something he would increasingly like to explore. He’s likely motivated by the fact that Audi has won the world’s greatest endurance race (Le Mans) 11 times in the last 13 years.
Mr Durheimer recently spoke about a sports car that could be positioned above the Audi R8 as an exciting idea that Audi engineers are considering, although nothing has been officially confirmed.
The idea of an Audi hypercar certainly has merit when you consider cars like the Bugatti Veyron, Bentley Continental GT3, a rumoured 600kW Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce, and the soon to be released Porsche 918 Spyder, particularly after the four-ringed German brand decided to halt full volume production plans of its zero-emission Audi R8 e-tron (only 10 cars have been produced).
The Audi R20 will take inspiration from the Audi’s Le Mans-winning R18 racers and is likely to favour a diesel-hybrid powertrain incorporating a twin-turbo V6 engine for an expected power output of around 410kW. Add to this a lightweight body and two 56kW electric motors driving the front wheels, and the Audi R20 should present a compelling power-to-weight proposition.
In order to break the usual supercar styling mould, Audi plans to equip the R20 with a full-length tailfin, modelled off the R18 Le Mans cars. Other design features include a single-frame grille, stacked LED headlamps, ventilated front and rear wings, an adjustable rear spoiler that could possibly double as an air brake, and a canopy-style cockpit with gullwing doors.
While the R20 project may have grabbed Audi’s supercar limelight, it’s clear that much has already been learned from the development of the R8 e-tron.