Audi is considering a road legal version of its R18 e-tron Le Mans racer to take on the new LaFerrari and McLaren P1.
The German brand named its first ever supercar, the R8, after its original Le Mans racing car that achieved domination in the famous 24-hour endurance event.
The Audi R8 (pictured below) is priced from $271,000 and is a competitor for the Porsche 911. The Le Mans-based supercar, however, would be a far more expensive and technologically advanced proposition that would take on the new LaFerrari and McLaren P1.
Wolfgang Durheimer, Audi’s board of management member for technical development, told Australian media including CarAdvice at the 2013 Geneva motor show that he believed the company had space to expand its sports car offerings.
“I believe there is room above and below the R8,” said Durheimer.
“I think if we do the R e-tron quattro from the Le Mans car we could compete with these cars [LaFerrari and McLaren P1] … but this will be a supercar and not an R9.”
“If the Le Mans car for street legal use comes it will not be an R8 or R9 by name.
“Because this [R8] is a platform in the model line. And the race car has nothing to do with it. [The new flagship supercar] will be derived from the race car.”
Mega supercars have become a trend despite the current crisis facing the European automotive market. In addition to the LaFerrari and McLaren P1, Lamborghini unveiled its “extremely exclusive” Veneno supercar at Geneva as well. Later this year, Porsche will release the 918 Spyder.
The “below the R8” part of Durheimer’s comment will revive hopes of an Audi R4 junior supercar – a project that has been rumoured for some time to be shared with a baby Porsche sports car and a production version of the Volkswagen BlueSport concept.
The R4 project was previewed by the Audi E-tron concept of 2010 (pictured above) but had seemed to have gone into limbo after Porsche ruled out building a spiritual successor to the 550 Spyder that could sit below the Cayman.
Durheimer wouldn’t confirm whether the R4 could be the car to sit below the R8.
Audi’s technical boss said the next-generation R8 would also be sportier than the current model that launches locally in updated form later this month.