Audi's electric R4 at the Detroit motor show 2010

Published: 11 January 2010

This is Audi’s latest electric E-tron sports car, unveiled at today’s Detroit motor show. Or to give the concept its official name, this is the Audi E-tron Detroit Showcar. Catchy.

More importantly, think of the concept as a glimpse of what the future holds for Audi’s sports car range...

Ignoring the awful ‘Audi E-tron Detroit Showcar’ name, tell me about the concept car

Think of it as Audi’s vision of what a sports car below the R8 might be like. We know Ingolstadt hopes to have its own version of VW’s Bluesport roadster – and insiders confirm this is indeed our first glimpse of the much-mooted R4.

The two-seat E-tron is just 3.93m long (the Bluesport measures 3999mm) so it’s shorter – as well as lower and narrower – than a TT. Unlike the four-motor, four-wheel drive E-tron unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt show, this E-tron has just two motors and rear-wheel drive. Still, the two electric units (mounted on the rear axle) combine to produce 1955lb ft – down from big brother’s 3319lb ft – and 201bhp so the E-tron is propelled to 62mph in just 5.9 seconds. Together with the smaller shape, aluminium spaceframe and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic body, the E-tron weighs just 1350kg, versus 1600kg for the original E-tron.

The lithium-ion batteries that power the E-tron are mid-mounted and tip the scales at 399kg, giving the show car a 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution. With the car’s top speed limited to 124mph, their 45kWh capacity gives a 155-mile range.

Production versions – which 'will look 90% like this', say well placed insiders – will of course sport a range of petrol and diesel engines as well. But Audi is serious about producing electric versions too.

Anything else on the new 2010 Audi e-tron?

Yes. This baby E-tron also has the original’s torque vectoring system that sends twist to the required wheel, LED headlights that react to weather and traffic conditions, plus a minimalist interior that takes advantage of the lack of a transmission tunnel to liberate extra space.

The E-tron also has a Smartphone that integrates with the car and allows you to programme the sat-nav from the comfort of your own home, and side intakes that open or close depending on the car’s cooling needs. They're seriously cool, and headed for production.

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