This is the preview of the new R4 -- a production version of the electric e-Tron Concept car -- shown at the recently held 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. It's believed that the R4 is likely to have petrol-engined versions, giving the R8 a smaller brother coupe that sits above the TT in the range. At Frankfurt , the e-Tron drew crowds due to its zero emissions electric powertrain.
The excitement is sure to spread with the confirmation of Audi of America's president Johan de Nysschen that the R4 will arrive at showrooms. It is likely that the project would be helped by Audi's joint venture with fellow VW Group firm, Porsche, which will see the R4 share a new chassis with the next-generation Boxster and Cayman. An electric version is featured at the very top of the line-up of the new sports car range, with petrol versions underneath.
This illustration shows how Audi mixed the compact, squat proportions of the e-Tron Concept car with amazing design cues such as those LED C-shaped headlights, along with a trademark Audi grille and scalloped sides. It's clearly seen here that there will be a targa-topped roadster trim.
There will also be a coupe and a drop-top. Powering the new flagship is e-tron's electric powertrain. There's a lithium-ion battery pack with four electric motors, two on each axle, that many considers to be a fresh take on Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive theme. Around 300bhp is produced, as well as 4,500 Nm of torque, delivering acceleration from zero to 60mph in 4.8 seconds.
The concept had a 124mph top speed but it is more likely that the production car will be faster at 140mph, similar to a supercar except that there are no tailpipe emissions. As in the concept, the 470kg lithium-ion battery is placed in the middle of the car. A fully charged gives a range of about 155 miles. Similar to the R8, drive is biased towards the rear and the chassis is a new aluminum spaceframe set-up with plastic body panels to keep weight down to around 1,500kg.
Showroom-ready versions are expected to arrive in 2012. It means that Audi has sufficient time to refine the electric powertrain. Audi still has to decide if the batteries would be leased to customers or if they should be included in the pricing. Down the range, the R4 will feature several engines from the current TT line-up, including a 335bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo.