Audi has long proven the perfect synthesis between a highly advanced sports car and TDI technology. With the TT, Audi become one of the first manufacturers anywhere in the world to successfully bring a diesel sports car to market, a decade after the Audi Cabriolet paved the way for diesel engines in this segment. And the Audi R8 TDI Le Mans concept car was the first supercar to be fitted with a twelve-cylinder diesel engine with 1,000 Newton metres (737.56 lb-ft) of torque.
The Audi e-tron Spyder also draws on this recipe for success – albeit in a revolutionary new combination. This marks the first use of a new generation of the six-cylinder, 3.0 TDI that breathes through two turbochargers and produces 221 kW.
Peak torque of 650 Newton metres (479.42 lb-ft) is unusually high, even in the sports car segment. The mid-mounted, longitudinal 3.0 TDI engine drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Another innovation is the coupling of the TDI with the electric drive of the front axle. Two asynchronous electric motors with a total output of 64 kilowatt and peak torque of 352 Newton metres (259.62 lb-ft) combine with the 3.0 TDI to give the Audi e-tron Spyder the performance of a high-performance sports car. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically governed at 250 km/h (155.34 mph).
The drive’s characteristic is even more exciting than the abstract numbers. Thanks in no small part to the fact that the peak torque of the electric motors is available immediately, the e-tron Spyder accelerates with catapult-like thrust. Short passing maneuvers on interurban roads can be pulled off as spurts that are every bit as relaxed as they are fun, even without having to downshift.
The noise level of the low-revving TDI is typically low. The six-cylinder unit behind the occupants issues a sonorously sporty growl under load, but never becomes loud. A surprising effect also present in the Le Mans-winning Audi R10 and R15 race cars, which are also powered by TDI engines.
The benefits of this special form of hybrid drive – the coupling of a high-torque, high-efficiency TDI engine with the electric motors – are by no means limited to the dynamic potential of the Audi e-tron Spyder, however. The open two-seater also sets new standards in its class for fuel consumption and environmental characteristics. The 221 kW TDI consumes on average just 2.2 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres (106.92 US mpg), which corresponds to CO2 emissions of only 59 g/km (94.95 g/mile).
The full-hybrid Audi e-tron Spyder has also mastered the discipline of zero-emission driving. In residential and other urban areas, the driver can activate the electric drive by itself. The 9.1-kwH battery at the front of the car has enough power for up to 50 kilometres (31.07 miles). And with a top speed of up to 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the e-tron Spyder is also able to move along smartly in city traffic.