We Drive Audis R8 TDI Le Mans Concept

We drive Audi’s R8 TDI Le Mans concept in Manhattan traffic and live to tell the tale.

I managed to snag a quick spin in the 500 horsepower Audi R8 V-12 TDI concept and walked away impressed. It’s impossible to experience the 738 lb-ft of torque the diesel is capable of producing because Audi doesn’t build a transmission that can hold the power and also fit in the tight quarters of a mid-engine supercar. So I made do with something around 440 lb-ft. And it was awesome.

Despite the reduction in output, the unique sound of the TDI engine was there in full force. At speeds above idle, it sounds as if there’s a turbine engine next to your right ear. I can only imagine how much better the sound gets if there’s actually enough room to mash the accelerator a few times. The V-12 is much larger than the V-8 gas engine production R8s use, so the firewall is almost touching the seats and the ruckus is much closer to the passengers.

Nothing can compare to the looks of the R8 TDI Le Mans, either. Manhattan traffic stopped. Pedestrians waited to cross the street. Camera phones appeared everywhere. There’s no chance at anonymity in this thing. With a more aggressive bodykit, an air intake on the roof, and larger side vents, it would be impossible to confuse this concept with any other car on the road.

To outsiders, the diesel R8 is a no-brainer. The R10’s success on the track could directly translate to a production diesel R8.; No other automaker is able to draw from racing experience and its diesel technology in the same way. A V-8 diesel might make more sense from a production standpoint, but I haven’t spoken to a soul at Audi who wants a diesel R8 with less than 12-cylinders. I really don’t, either.


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