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Audi 'R4' e-tron

Stephen Dobie
12 Jan 2010

Mini-me Audi e-tron electric supercar hints at a sub-R8 sports car, the rumoured R4


Audi’s responsible for one of the big stars of the Detroit motor show. Meet the mini-me e-tron, a shrunken version of the R8-style all-electric supercar that gives a pretty good glimpse of a future Audi R4 sports car. It’s a ‘vision of how a small sports car positioned below R8 could look’, according to Audi development chief Michael Dick.
And the big news? It’s rear-wheel drive. Quite how the back wheels will handle the 1955lb ft of torque (and slightly less impressive 201bhp) is another matter, however. Those figures are dished up by a pair of electric motors mounted on the rear axle, and propel the two-seater to 62mph in 5.9sec.
It’s a much smaller car than the original, Frankfurt-revealed e-tron, being shorter in length and height than a Mazda MX-5 roadster. The Audi weighs just 1350kg, too, rather impressive for a battery-filled car (the R8 e-tron tops the 1.6-ton mark). Its 399kg power source is stacked between the cabin and rear axle to enhance the weight distribution, which comes in at 40/60 front/rear.
Could be quite tail-happy, then, although torque vectoring tech makes an appearance to control under- and oversteer with targeted activation of the brakes as well as precise blasts of power to neutralise the handing. The suspension is constructed of triangular double wishbones with lightweight forged aluminium components, with what Audi describes as a ‘taut setup’. Let’s hope that’s not paraphrasing ‘rock hard’ or ‘back pain’.
The ‘R4’ e-tron’s range is claimed to be 155 miles on one charge, a charge taking 11 hours from a regular house socket or two hours if you hook it up to a 400v supply. Like most modern eco-cars, charging takes place while you’re driving, too, with energy recuperated when braking. Thanks to the e-tron’s trick brake-by-wire tech, though, all of the get-up-and-go can be clawed back.
So it's a fairly efficient thing, but what’s exciting us is the thought of a smaller R8. With rear-wheel drive please, Audi. Keep your eyes on for the latest on a new shrunken four-ringed sports car.
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