Yes, you are reading right! We have a driving report with Audi’s latest torque monster, the Audi R8 V12 TDI. In addition we can’t tell you how much we envy those lucky guys from Fourtitude who were offered a once in a lifetime opportunity and grabbed it by its horns. Nice! Of course we don’t need to stress that this is a must read, right?
The crimson R8 V12 TDI “Le Mans” sits before me on the tarmac, awaiting some quick frottage – just enough to see the potential, though not enough to jeopardize Audi’s one-off prototype. The car is still a concept, which means two things: First, it’s hasn’t undergone the battery of tests that production cars do and, second, its build cost was more than the $1.2 million my insurance company says my life is worth. “Nothing over 50,” say the Audi’s handlers. Good idea.
This V12 TDI R8 resets the bar, and makes the high-revving 4.2-liter production R8 look somehow lesser; it’s like a Hemi hogging the spotlight from the 340 Six Pack in vintage Dodge Challengers.
Like the Hemi, the V12 TDI is a heavy brute of an engine. Unlike the Hemi, this isn’t a homologation mill – something you might be wondering if you are casually aware of the R10 racecar. Both the R10 and the R8 Le Mans study have a V12 TDI, but the similarities begin and end there. The Le Mans’ 6.0-liter street engine is about 150 hp shy of the 5.5-liter race engine, but with a rating of 737 lb-ft of torque from only 1750 rpm, it’ll shred pavement like a Kenworth hauling a double-wide on snow chains. Weak it is not. The Germans on hand tell me that it’ll also hit 62 mph in 4.2 seconds under full power, with a top speed of 186 mph, before pausing to add that I will not be getting anywhere near that today. The engine’s only running 442 lb-ft today – an effort to keep guys like me from damaging the thing and to increase life of the experimental transmission that’s been custom-built within a case from the Audi A4 parts bin.