Audi has boosted its green credentials at the Frankfurt Motor Show by unveiling an electric-only version of its iconic R8 supercar. Dubbed the e-tron, this futuristic coupe looks set to give its petrol-powered grandfather a run for its money, and bring real innovation to the world of electric cars. The e-tron is battling for the limelight with BMW’s hybrid Vision EfficientDynamics concept at Frankfurt – and proves that whatever the blue propeller can do, Audi can, too.
Under the reskinned body lie four electric motors – two on each axle. Together, these give an output of 230 kW, as well as an incredible 4 500 N.m of torque. The result is a four-wheel-drive performance car capable of zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 200 km/h – with zero tailpipe emissions.
The e-tron’s low-slung proportions are immediately recognisable. Yet the R8 styling cues get a futuristic slant, with a smoother grille, cut-out LED lights and aerodynamic wheels. Inside, Audi’s usual layout has made way for space-age minimalism. In front of the driver is a clean, uncluttered dash, which extends into the door panels. As there’s no need for a transmission tunnel, the designers have created a slim and compact centre console. Mounted on this is a dial that controls all the cabin’s major functions, through a large screen in front of the driver.
Under the skin, a blend of an aluminium spaceframe and plastic body panels ensures the e-tron is relatively light, at 1 600 kg’s. By placing the 470 kg lithium-ion battery pack where the petrol engine would usually be, Audi has managed to provide the new model with the handling of a mid-engined supercar. Plus, in corners, extra power can be sent to the wheel that needs it most. The weight is distributed 42/58, front to rear, and the 4WD is biased to the back – so the e-tron should be every bit as agile as the regular R8.
It’s even aware of its surroundings. The on-board computer can receive data about upcoming corners and gradients, and can sense traffic light sequences, so it sets the car up to maximise efficiency. Once the battery runs out of charge, though, owners will be able to plug their model into a domestic electrical socket.
While the e-tron isn’t likely to appear in showrooms for some time, expect parts of its technology will grace Audi cars in the next few years.