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Audi R4 (2011)
29 June 2007 01:49
Audi to take on Porsche? Surely not...
Yes, Porsche and Audi have struck a deal that will see them join forces to jointly develop the R4 – Audi’s entry-level sports coupe and roadster – and the next generation Boxster/Cayman. Audi’s plan is to have a four-strong line-up of R-cars: an R10 super coupe (based on the Le Mans-winning diesel-powered racer), the next generation R8 (current car pictured above), an R6 to sit between the Porsche 911 and Boxster, and then the entry-level R4, a mid-engined two-seater strategically aimed at the £28-35,000 price bracket. The obvious sister model of the R4 is the next-generation Boxster/Cayman, known internally as project 981/C8. Due in 2011, the Mk2 roadster and coupe will of course be rear-wheel drive and fitted with six-cylinder boxer engines. That's in stark mechanical contrast with the proposed Audi spin-off, which will run forced-induction four- and five-cylinder engines through advanced low-friction quattro four-wheel drive with torque vectoring.
So the R4 will get boxer engines and the Boxster will get quattro all-wheel drive?
Not quite. Hooking up with Porsche has some key advantages for both parties. Apart from sharing the huge development costs, Porsche gets its hands on Audi’s aluminium spaceframe bodies, powerful diesel engines, lightweight low-friction four-wheel drive with torque vectoring and dual-clutch transmissions for almost all torque classes. Audi in return gets to tap deep into Porsche’s first class engineering base and its peerless financial ability that constantly puts it at the top of the profitability tree. Our sources indicate that Audi has earmarked the 300bhp turbocharged four-pot – as seen in the TT Clubsport Concept (above) – and the blown 350bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder unit (currently being prepped for the hot SR version of the TT) for the R4. Although Porsche could adapt the new four-wheel drive system which is being developed for the 997 replacement – codenamed 991 – for the next Boxster/Cayman, it’s unlikely given the associated weight penalty of the drivetrain. But Audi will want to play its quattro trump card, so expect its engineers to heavily modify the 991’s all-paw layout for the R4.