RAC Cars News


Audi R8 E-tron Remains Out Of Reach

By raccars Published

Having expended considerable effort and expense upon the development of its all electric super sports car, the R8 E-tron and with 10 models already in existence, Audi has decided the car does not present sufficient sales potential to make it to the production stage.

The R8 E-tron is road ready enough to have been introduced to the motoring press, with the 10 models built allegedly having cost more than €1 million each. A 49kWh battery powers two rear axle seated electric motors for a total power output of 375bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 124mph.

That sort of power doesn't come lightly, so the E-tron version of the R8 is 200kg heavier than the V8. Ostensibly the same car on the outside, the E-tron R8 actually has a carbon fibre and aluminium body shell and is rear wheel drive only. Along with a T-shaped battery arrangement, this helps to maintain stability on the road.

While the Audi R8 is well behaved in 'Auto' or 'Efficiency' dynamic control settings, there is also a more sporting, aggressive mode for those who want to pretend they're on the Nurburgring. This 'Dynamic' mode offers tighter throttle response and more steering weight but lacks the V8 powered version's cornering agility. Fortunately the E-tron can come to a halt just as effectively as the V8, thanks to regenerative braking and massive, effective ceramic brakes.

An intuitive torque vectoring set up also applies those brakes to the inside rear at the same time as power is increased to the outside to dispatch corners as quickly as possible. As a single speed system, the E-tron doesn't have any traditional transmission unit, but an energy recuperation arrangement can be controlled according to your driving enthusiasm.

In the cabin the E-tron takes advantage of Audi's newest MMI infotainment system, which the standard R8 is sorely lacking. Along with the traditional functions, the system also communicates important driving information such as driving mode and energy status. A beefy metal gear stick is somewhat redundant, probably included as a sop to traditionalists but offering only neutral, drive or reverse functions. With the battery consuming the entire rear cavity, Audi has supplied a rear view camera to do the job of a back window, projected onto a rear view mirror replacement screen, among a number of other minor divergences from the standard R8's furnishings.

It's disappointing that such a competent and enjoyable car has to remain strictly a monument to Audi's technological rather than its commercial prowess.

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