Audi Shows R8 V12 TDI Diesel Supercar Concept

By Chris Haak

01.13.2008

It’s getting to the point where vehicles revealed at auto shows aren’t much of a surprise anymore. With embargo breaks, companies issuing press releases before the formal introduction, plus the old fashioned rumor mill all conspiring to ruin the surprise factor, few vehicles make it to the turntable without being seen by the world first.

To that end, few were surprised that Audi showed a V12 TDI version of its R8 sports car in Detroit today. In fact, some websites over the past few days obtained leaked video footage of the R8 V12 TDI. Although I wasn’t surprised to see the car itself, I was surprised that, given the reputation of diesels in the US, Audi chose to drive the car onto the stage amidst an excessive amount of stage smoke. That irony may have been lost on Audi’s German management, but it wasn’t on me.

All of this doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the R8 V12 TDI is an impressive piece of machinery. I’ve never been hugely impressed by the “Regular” R8, if only because it looked a little goofy in its profile (especially when equipped with the contrasting color side panel) and because its nose appeared to be too small or too low for my taste. Still, there wasn’t much not to like about a sports car priced just over $100,000 based on its corporate cousin the Lamborghini Gallardo.

Audi has a lot of experience with diesel powertrains, and in fact has had two years of very successful LeMans campaigns with its diesel-powered R10 race cars. Those who have seen the R10 race cars in action have spoken of how surreal it was to watch race cars zip by at breakneck speeds, unaccompanied by the normal screaming engine sounds.

The R8 V12 TDI Concept builds on the pedigree of Audi’s LeMans winning race cars with a new concept in road-going sports cars: putting a diesel engine under the rear enigne cover. In this Audi’s case, it’s a huge and hugely powerful diesel; it displaces 6.0 liters and produces 500 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. That’s 72 more lb-ft of torque than the most powerful light duty pickup sold in the US, the GM 6.6 liter Duramax diesel, produces (that engine produces 660 lb-ft), yet the R8 is a much leaner, lighter machine.

As an Audi, the car is, of course, equipped with Quattro all wheel drive and is capable of a 4.2 second 0-62 mph sprint and a top speed in excess of 186 miles per hour (300 km/h). Peak torque in the TDI V12 is reached at just 1,750 RPMs. Audi refers to its acceleration as “effortless,” and I see no reason to doubt that claim.

The Audi R8 V12 TDI’s fuel consumption is said to be approximately 24 miles per gallon, but Audi executives did not specify whether that was a highway mileage figure or a combined figure. Only the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which actually has similar performance, can boast of a highway mileage figure in this vicinity (the Z06 is rated at 24 miles per gallon on the highway, but far less in the city cycle).

I don’t doubt that Audi already has production plans in place for this vehicle. It would be the ultimate expression of diesel technology in a carbon conscious world. Rudolph Diesel would surely be impressed with what the Audi engineers were able to build in this car.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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1 Comment

  1. 24 MPG for this fire-breathing, high-horsepower monster?!?!? Where do I sign?

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