An R8 with a twin-turbo, twin-intercooled 6.0-litre V12? Brilliant, and even better is the 493bhp. What’s perhaps not so good is the 737lb ft. Not because the tyres will be overwhelmed – four-wheel drive sees that they aren’t – but because such a figure means this R8 is a diesel.This is Audi’s Detroit Motor Show star, the R8 V12 TDI concept.
It previews the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer’s new roadgoing 6.0-litre V12 - designed to complement Audi’s Le Mans winning R10 racer. Audi claims the V12 already meets Euro 6 emissions regulations, even though they won’t come into force until 2014. That’s thanks in part to the big engine featuring Audi’s AdBlue technology that pulses urea into the exhaust to reduce NOx.
The fastest R8: a diesel
But while it’s green, the Audi V12 TDI R8 isn’t slow. That 737lb ft arrives at 1750rpm and keeps being produced until 3000rpm. So this derv R8 reaches 62mph in 4.2 seconds (0.4 seconds quicker than the regular R8) and will race on to over 180mph. Ceramic brakes slow the R8 down.
But while the R8 V12 might be quick, we suspect it won’t sound it. Audi claims the V12 TDI will sound ‘as thrilling as you'd expect in a sports car of this calibre’ - but having heard the racing R10’s low rumble, we reckon it will lose some of the V8 R8's magic.
Click 'Next' to read more about the R8
It’s strange to look inside the cabin of an R8 and see the redline starting at 4500rpm, but it’s heartening to see a Ferrari ‘mannetino’ style dial with Dynamic, Sport and Race modes. This allows you to fiddle with the engine, transmission and magnetic damper settings, while Race also switches the instruments lighting from white to red while the sat-nav display changes to track your laps times and g-forces.
The chances of the R8 ever receiving the V12 TDi for a production run aren't as slim as you might think. Don't forget Audi’s rush to fill every niche. This big V12 is destined to reach the Q7 and A8, and we hear the R8 is a very probable bet, to sit alongside the confirmed 2009 TT diesel. Meanwhile, the styling of this concept gives hints towards the forthcoming V10-powered R8 and R8 Spider.
R8: the new look
The bodykit featuring a retractable rear spoiler probably won’t see the light of day, and nor will the NACA duct on the roof feeding the V12. But either side of the NACA duct are twin glass panels letting light into the cabin, and the forthcoming targa-top Spider could feature the same.
Styling flourishes tipped for the new V10-powered R8 are the twin strakes dividing the front air intakes and rear air outlets, replacing replace the triple and quad items on the V8 R8. The enlarged air intakes in the sideblades will also feature on the V10.
They say: A groundbreaking sports car in tune with 21st century sensitivities
We say: The march of diesel continues. Is nothing sacred?
CAR verdict: 4/5