RIP Rip-Snorting Audi R8 V12 TDI Diesel

May 7, 2009
2009 Audi R8 Le Mans

2009 Audi R8 Le Mans

TDI, we hardly knew ye. Dispensed before birth, now merely a dream of the clean, high-mileage supercar, how should we mourn the death of the Audi R8 V12 TDI diesel--which Audi now says it won't build after all?

First revealed at the 2008 Detroit auto show as the Audi R8 TDI Concept, then updated as the 2009 Audi R8 Le Mans Concept at last fall's Paris Motor Show, the oil-burning R8 rocked a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 diesel.

What's that? A diesel supercar? Yep. Just check the stats: 500 horsepower is impressive in anyone's book. But the torque--at a stunning 738 pound-feet--was jaw-dropping. It translated to a top speed (in European spec) of more than 180 miles per hour.

Acceleration? It knocked off 0-62 mph--that's 0 to 100 kilometers per hour, kids--in just 4.2 seconds, pretty close to 2009 Tesla Roadster acceleration (to keep it in the alt-power family).

The engine was based on the screaming turbodiesel fitted to Audi's R10 Le Mans contender, which cleaned up in the famous 24-hour endurance race. Among other benefits, it pitted for fuel less often, letting it do more continuous laps than gas-engined competitors.

But after a year of debate, Audi has canceled the project. The company concluded that the cost of adapting the R8's aluminum spaceframe--related to the one used for the Lamborghini Gallardo--to accommodate the big diesel's twin turbochargers would simply be too great for the sales they expected.

Part of the problem is the highly uncertain future for diesel cars in the US, where one third of all R8s are sold. German manufacturers are increasingly less confident that American consumers will opt for diesels, especially when gasoline is cheap and the "clean diesel" message hasn't registered with buyers focused on hybrids as the way to cut fuel consumption.

As of today, the company still plans to bring an Audi A3 TDI to the US, but not its delightful A6 TDI.

2008 Audi R8 V12 TDI concept

2008 Audi R8 V12 TDI concept

[SOURCE: Auto Express]

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