By: IOL Motoring Staff
It's not often that a special edition is released before the event it commemorates - but in this case it makes sense. The A1 R18 Le Mans Limited Edition celebrates both Audi's rich history at the Sarthe circuit and its high hopes for this year's 24 Heures du Mans, which is shaping up to be one of the hardest-fought in the 90-year history of the world's premier endurance race.
The R18 Le Mans Edition is based on either the A1 SE Hatchback or Sportback models, and features distinctive styling elements the R18 Le Mans racer, adapted to create a very special A1 derivative.
The most symbolic is the number '378' discreetly emblazoned on the outside of the car. That's the number of laps completed by the winning R18 e-tron quattro in 2012.
Just hit the pause button there for a moment, Cyril.
At 13.629km, the Circuit de La Sarthe is the longest sanctioned for world championship racing by the FIA; 378 laps adds up to a total distance of 5151.762km, covered between 3pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday, at an average speed of 214.657km/h - including 33 pit stops!
It was Audi's 11th victory at Le Mans, and the second consecutive win for works drivers Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer - but it was also the first time the race had been won by a hybrid, as well as the first win by a car with all-wheel drive.
The limited edition model also includes the winning drivers' signatures on the top corner of the rear window.
The R18 Le Mans edition is available in your choice of red, two shades of white and two shades of black and comes with special 17” V-spoked cast-aluminium rims, Competition Kit front spoiler, side sills, roof spoiler and rear diffuser, sports tailpipes, side-mirror housings in silver or red, and R18 decals in red or grey.
Inside, the decorative R18 Le Manas design extends to the air vents, centre console, rear-view mirror, floor mats and door handles.
Only 100 R18 Le Mans packages have been allocated to South Africa.
They're available now to order on any A1 SE Hatchback or Sportback variant at an extra cost of R10 800 over and above the standard price of the model - and just to let you see what you're letting yourself in for, here are the base prices for the A1 SE line-up.
1.6 TDI SE manual - R262 500
1.4T FSI SE manual - R269 000
1.4T FSI SE S tronic - R286 500
1.6 TDI SE manual - R270 000
1.4T FSI SE - R276 500
1.4T FSI SE S tronic - R294 000