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If there's one person who knows what's going on at the Audi skunk works, it's Quattro GmbH Managing Director Franciscus Van Meel, managing director of the Quattro performance division. He's been saying for a while now that Audi is developing a genuine supercar, something that will eat the upcoming McLaren P1 for breakfast.
And after spending several years and the GDP of a small country on developing a couple of half-baked, sort-of-running concepts, we were expecting it to be a made-to-order only, customer version of the R8 e-tron.
But then the VW Group moved Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer across to be Audi's new head of development - apparently with a brief to shake things up - and the former top gun from BMW and Porsche has done just that.
NOT AS FAR-FETCHED AS IT SOUNDS
According to Automobile Magazine, Dürheimer wants to build a street-legal version of the successful Audi R18 Le Mans racer - which is not a far-fetched as it sounds. Le Mans is a sports-car race, and all the cars have to make provision for a second seat, even if it's not there.
Add another seat, a small single-frame grill so the envious masses can recognise the brand (why else build a supercar?) and there you have it.
The magazine says the Audi whitecoats are talking about vertically mounted LED headlights, ventilated front and rear wings, gullwing doors, a huge self-adjusting spoiler that could even be tilted tight up to become an air-brake - and, to make the new car, already nicknamed the R20, really distinctive, they want to retain the R18's signature full-length fin.
WELL OVER 500kW
It's predicting that the R20 will have a twin-turbo, V6 diesel pushing out about 405kW, teamed with two 55kW electric motors driving the front wheels, for a total of well over 500kW, which should deliver giant-killing performance.
Audi's e-quattro architecture also provides for torque vectoring, to cancel out over or understeer, brake energy recuperation, idle stop and a certain amount of pure electric driving.
The cabin will be a little tight for two adults, but it should have most of the R18's electronics, including the need-to-know black-panel instrumentation, multi-segment Le Mans-style windshield wiper and surround-view cameras rather than exterior mirrors.
Automobile Magazine points out that, unlike the e-tron, this is not rocket science; all the technology not only exists, it has already been proven in the heat of endurance racing.
It quotes Audi insiders as saying that an R20 prototype could be shown as early as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance late in 2015, with production to start in the second quarter of 2016 - although we're not sure if production is the right word, given than estimates of the total number to be built vary from just 100 to a maximum of 250.
And yes, Cyril, they will be very, very expensive - but if they really do look - and go - like a street-legal Le Mans prototype, Audi should have no trouble finding takers.