Audi R18 e-tron quattroEnlarge Photo
Its latest Le Mans prototype, the R18 e-tron quattro, takes diesel race cars to the next level by incorporating supplemental electric power to further boost output and conserve fuel. Since the diesel engine drives the rear wheels while the electric motors power the front wheels, the R18 delivers the added benefit of all-wheel drive.
Though Audi is no stranger to building diesel passenger cars, it’s resisted the urge to construct an all-out diesel sports car. Rumors of such an animal, reportedly called the R10, began circulating late last year.
Like the R18 racer, the road-going R10 would be a hybrid, with a similar rear-engine, front-electric-motor motor drivetrain. Details were lacking, despite several comments from Audi executives that such a car was under consideration.
Now Autocar is reporting the closest bit of definitive information that we’ve seen to date, based on a conversation with Audi R&D head Wolfgang Dürheimer. Per Dürheimer, a range-topping diesel hybrid supercar, possibly called the Audi R10, is now in the “Product Evaluation” stage.
In other words, if a business case can be built for the car, expect it to get a green light for production. If it does, the R10 will reportedly get a heavily-modified version of the brand’s 3.0-liter V-6 TDI engine, with an output as high as 420 horsepower and 515 pound-feet of torque.
Power from the diesel engine will be sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the front wheels will be powered by a pair of electric motors. The combined output is said to be in excess of 600 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque.
The R10 would also get a carbon fiber monocoque and bodywork that derives from the R18 race car. While it’s far too early to discuss pricing, the R10 would be a halo car for the brand, positioned well above any of Audi’s current R8 models.
If the car does get the go-ahead for production, news could come as early as this September’s Frankfurt Auto Show. We’d hold off putting in a deposit just yet, though, since the R10 is one of five new projects said to be under consideration.
Dürheimer calls it his “personal favorite” project, so we hope that gives it better than a 20-percent chance of survival.