Having proved that diesel engines could run with the best engineered gasoline motors in the world, they then set out to demonstrate that it was possible to design a supercar around a diesel power plant.
The result of this experiment is the Audi R8 V12 TDI. Based on the standard gasoline-powered R8, which sports a V10 engine borrowed from corporate stable mates Lamborghini, the R8 TDI had some very large shoes to fill in terms of performance.
It accomplished this by wedging in a twin-turbo charged V12 engine that generates 500 horsepower and an astounding 737 lb-ft of torque. Direct injection technology has rendered the TDI 30 percent cleaner than a standard diesel motor.
Further, Audi employs an emissions system that injects a solution called ‘AdBlue” which produces ammonia in the exhaust system in order to break toxic nitric acid down into its component nitrogen and water vapor.
The exterior styling of the R8 TDI prototype also underwent some significant changes. While the production R8 is certainly no slouch in the looks department and sticks out like a sore thumb no matter where it goes, the prototype attracts even more attention with an extended rear wing and extensive silver body cladding that increases the visual width of the vehicle.
Topping things off are a glass roof and integrated air duct which sucks cold oxygen from the roof down to the rear-mounted V12. The prototype shares the use of LEDS with the standard R8 in both the engine bay and the headlight surround, bringing the car in line with corporate Audi styling cues.
The interior of the does not differ greatly from the vehicle it is based on: a flat bottomed steering wheel and lap timer with racetrack information screen highlight a sumptuously appointed cockpit that also includes sophisticated vehicle data displays.
As with every concept car that crosses the stage at an international auto show, the question becomes “will they build it?” While the R8 has drawn praise from nearly every automotive critic who has driven it, is there really room in the marketplace for a diesel version?
While Audi has chosen a supercar in which to showcase their impressive diesel technology, it’s not a sure bet that those who are capable of paying the high sticker price a vehicle of this stature commands truly desire a diesel vehicle just to be different.
While the R8 TDI prototype is definitely an engineering achievement, supercars are by their nature indicators of conspicuous consumption, and the social message of ecologically friendliness and resource economy could easily be lost in the shuffle.