V8 power credentials confirm Audi as a major force in the prestige car market
Through the production of over 127,000 V8 engines since 1986, Audi has already assured itself of a place as one of Europe's principal prestige car makers. Its standing will be further reinforced this year with the launch of the RS 6 quattro, whose V8 engine has much in common with the units which could potentially power the Audi R8 sports cars to another decisive victory in this year's Le Mans 24-hour race.
The RS 6 quattro goes on sale in Europe just weeks after the company's Le Mans prototype competes in the World's most demanding endurance motor race. The most powerful road-going Audi to date will be the latest in a lengthy line of V8-powered Audi models which, since the launch of the 100-based Audi V8 in 1988, have already accounted for over 3,600 sales in the UK.
As broad similarities in its specification and layout suggest, the 4.2-litre, bi-turbocharged V8 engine which breathes 450bhp into the RS 6 quattro is a direct descendant of the 610bhp unit at the heart of the all-conquering Infineon Audi R8 sports racing car.
The history of this remarkable eight-cylinder powerhouse can be traced right back to the mid 1930s, when its ancestors powered the Horch models which precede modern day Audis. More recently, a relative of this engine transformed the Audi 100 into the 1988 Audi V8 quattro - the brand's first foray into the luxury road car market, and a successful competitor in the German Touring Car Championship.
V8s feature strongly throughout Audi range
The Audi V8 quattro paved the way for the launch of the revolutionary aluminium-bodied Audi A8 luxury saloon in 1994. Powered by 3.7-litre and 4.2-litre V8 engines, this milestone car in turn spawned eight-cylinder versions of the A6 saloon and Avant, headed by the 340bhp S6 quattro.
By the end of 2002, the Audi range will feature no less than 7 models powered by V8 engines, including the RS 6 quattro and the forthcoming allroad 4.2 quattro.
Like the Le Mans-contesting R8 sportscar, the road-going RS 6 quattro is equipped with two intercooled turbochargers, helping to boost the output of the 4.2-litre V8 to 450bhp, and its torque to an impressive 560Nm, delivered right from 1,950rpm to 5,600rpm.
Performance figures are certainly more track car than executive saloon, the sprint from rest to 62mph taking just 4.9 seconds (3.2secs for Audi R8) and 124mph arriving in only 18 seconds (Audi R8 6.9 seconds). Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph, while the R8 exceeds over 200mph along the famous Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.
The quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system, in conjunction with new adaptive damping technology, known as Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), aids the translation of this incredible performance potential into rewarding yet inherently safe driving characteristics. Ventilated, composite design brakes developed on the race circuit also offer immensely strong and fade-free stopping power to efficiently temper the performance.
Since making its début in March 2000, the Audi R8 sports racing car has contested 25 races, covering over 56,000 circuit miles in the process. In addition to winning the 2000 and '01 Le Mans races, it has scored an incredible 19 victories in American and European Le Mans Series endurance sportscar events. Last year, Audi became the first manufacturer ever to win the round-the-clock Le Mans race with an engine featuring petrol direct injection.
At the Le Mans pre-practice on Sunday May 5th, a new development of the FSI engine will be run for the first time, providing more torque and an even wider and more usable rev-band.Published 7 May 2002