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Paris show: Audi strikes with diesel-electric Spyder

Silver streak: Audi's eco supercar races from zero to 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds.

Latest Audi e-tron Spyder concept offers extreme acceleration with miserly economy

30 Sep 2010

AUDI stepped closer to a production-ready hybrid sportscar by presenting a diesel-electric supercar concept with more than 1000Nm of torque at the Paris motor show today.

Combining a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and a pair of electric motors to drive all four wheels, the Audi e-tron Spyder has startling acceleration, racing to 100km/h from rest in just 4.4 seconds.

The Paris show car follows a similar but all-electric e-tron concept Audi presented at last year’s Frankfurt show, and which a company spokesman told GoAuto could be production-ready as early as 2012.

It looks very similar to the e-tron presented in coupe form at the Detroit motor show in January, but that car was also all-electric.

7 center imageIn the Paris show car, the TDI diesel engine, which produces 221kW of power and some 650Nm of torque, is mid-mounted and drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the two electric motors drive the front wheels.

With the electric motors adding 64kW and 352Nm, the combined output of the e-tron Spyder amounts to 285kW and 1002Nm.

Audi claims the car accelerates with “catapult-like thrust” but that the low-revving diesel engine located just behind the occupants produces only a relatively quiet but “sonorously sporty growl” under load, just like its Le Mans-winning diesel racers.

But the e-tron Spyder is not all about performance as Audi claims incredible average fuel economy of just 2.2 litres per 100km and emissions of just 59g per kilometre, making it one of the most environmentally friendly supercars ever built.

Furthermore, Audi said the Spyder can be driven exclusively on electric power – and therefore with zero emissions – over distances of up to 50km, such as in urban areas, but with a top speed of only 60km/h.

Complex electronic systems control the power delivered by each motor at the front, combined with the diesel power to the rear wheels, to provide central control of the entire drive system in combination with the ESP.

Under normal driving, 75 per cent of the mid-engined car’s power goes to the rear wheels and 25 per cent to the front, but this can be varied according to the conditions and car behavior.

Weighing only 1450kg, with a short wheelbase and perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the Audi e-tron Spyder is said to have the driveability of a go-kart and handling that is neutral right up to the (very high) limit.

The chassis – thought to be based on the R8 – features race-style triangular double wishbones at the front and a trapezoidal-link rear suspension made of forged aluminum components, and the car sits on 20-inch blade design wheels with 245/30 tyres up front and 265/30 tyres at the rear.

Audi claims the e-tron Spyder’s styling is “the most consistent evolution of the current Audi design language, while also providing initial hints at the design language of future Audi sportscars”.

As well as having a short wheelbase – at 2430mm, it is some 220mm less than the R8 – the Spyder is still quite short overall at 4060mm, is 1810mm wide and stands just 1110mm high.

However, this is 130mm longer and 30mm wider than the coupe in Detroit, which more closely links it to the R8.

In a nod to Audi’s motorsport heritage, the frameless side glass surfaces taper downward toward the rear while the windshield is strongly bowed and inclined like the visor of a helmet.

The front end is dominated by the huge single-frame grille and the two smaller intakes on either side feed cooling air to the electric drive system and also the TDI engine at the rear of the vehicle.

All the light units use LED technology and the charging station for the batteries is located beneath the trademark four rings above the grille. The rings disappear beneath the front hatch, exposing not just the charging plug but also a display showing the charge state and a map graphic indicating the current electric range.

There are, of course, plenty of carbon-fibre components spread around the car, including the rear licence plate panel and the engine cover, which also features aluminium and leather to link it with the interior.

Behind the seats are two cowls that gradually taper toward the rear and also flank the opening for the TDI engine. These cowls also contain the normally hidden rollover bars, which like in the production R8 Spyder shoot up within milliseconds and lock into place in the event of an emergency.

The simple interior is strongly oriented toward the driver and features two lightweight sports seats, a slim dash, a central control unit for all the car’s functions and a flush-mounted selector lever for the automatic transmission that extends upward from the tunnel when the vehicle is started.

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