Sports car enthusiasts are in for a big surprise! Audi is planning an arresting new mid-engined machine: the R4. The new vehicle will be patterned on a totally new platform and mounted above the TT in Audi's series, providing buyers a driver-focused two-seater with a beginning price of £35,000 ($52,100 or €40,880). It's the product of a reported joint project with Porsche, so the venture will create a fresh platform to support the Coupe and Roadster versions of the R4, and also offer the foundation for the next Boxster and Cayman. It's these basic sellers in the Porsche series that the R4 will target.
The new Audi gets much of its image motivation from the R8 supercar, with LED lights, deep air intakes and a sweeping silhouette. But this similarity is deliberate. The Porsche joint venture is all part of Audi's plan to open a series of R-badged sports cars, which will go behind the path of the range-topper. These will consist of an R6 to compete with Jaguar's new E-Type substitute and the Porsche 911, and an R10 version patterned on the V12 TDI R8 diesel concept. For sure, it's not only Audi which will have an advantage.
Porsche will be able to share Audi's engines and lower down the costs linked with developing a new platform. The upmarket sports car company is eager to guarantee that it maintains its healthy profitability particularly in the present financial climate. While the two companies will work together to manufacture the new platform, the R4 and the next-generation Boxster/Cayman will be quite different versions.
Eager to preserve the DNA that's made the TT and R8 so successful, superiors will provide the Audi a body created from aluminum panels. It also received quattro all-wheel drive with torque split 40:60 in favor of the rear wheels. Additionally, the new vehicle takes advantage from adaptive magnetic dampers and Audi's Drive Select system. The latter permits the driver to toggle between many modes which adjust steering and throttle reaction.
Power will come from the firm's lineup of TFSI motors, with the entry-level version most probably to receive a highly tuned 2.0-liter turbo. The fresh 335bhp 2.5-liter five-cylinder super and turbocharged unit reserved for the lead vehicle TT RS will be offered, too. The possibility also exists that the R4 will also be offered with a high-performance diesel and petrol V6.
A six-speed manual transmission will be standard gearboxes, with a seven-ratio S tronic dual-clutch semi-auto as an option. The R4 is not yet going to reach the showrooms, though. There are still a lot of glitches to attend to with the mooted joint venture, and it still remains to be seen which company will offer the new platform first. Bearing in mind the increasing control of Porsche over the VW Group, it is probable that it gets to call the shots. If that's the case, the R4 could be available around 2011, just a little later than the Boxster and Cayman.