Pebble Beach - Audi's PB18 e-tron concept is a bold new vision of what the driver-dedicated sports car of the future could be like.
Named after its Pebble Beach launch venue (hence the ‘PB’) and designed at Audi’s new design studio up the road in Malibu, the concept car certainly makes some radical suggestions.
Designed for both track and road, it has a movable cockpit that allows the driver to completely change position.
Hence, when driving alone on the track, the driver can be positioned optimally at the centre of the car, but when a passenger wants to hitch a ride, the whole cockpit - seat, steering wheel and all - can shift to the left or right to make room.
How did they get that right? Steering, accelerating and braking is purely ‘by-wire’ - no mechanical connections are involved, so the ‘inner monocoque’ can slide around freely.
We certainly hope that Audi has engineered a proper ‘feel’ into those electronic driving controls, as the rest of the package was designed around pure driving bliss - no autonomous driving technologies here, and no comfort features to add weight either.
“We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18,” said Gael Buzyn, who heads up the Malibu design ‘Loft’.
“That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the centre. Nevertheless, our aim was to also give the PB18 e-tron a high degree of everyday usability, not just for the driver, but also for a potential passenger.”
The car’s battery packs are optimally positioned to place the car’s centre of gravity behind the seats and in front of the rear axle, while the ultra-lightweight, multi-material body keeps the kerb weight down to 1550kg - which is exceptional for an EV lugging heavy batteries around.
The rear-biased quattro drivetrain places a single 150kW electric motor on the front axle and two 175kW motors on the back end. With system outputs of 500kW (570kW on overboost) and 830Nm, the PB18 concept can allegedly whoosh from 0-100km/h in just over two seconds, making it almost as quick as the current LMP1 prototype.
The 95kWh battery has a range of 500km on the WLTP cycle, according to Audi, and can be recharged in 15 minutes from an 800 volt charging source.
The concept rides on a push-rod front and pull-rod rear suspension, with magnetic adaptive dampers at all corners.
But will we see anything like this in the near future?
Unlikely, but don’t be surprised if some of the concept’s design cues - and perhaps even aspects of its drivetrain - influence the next Audi R8.