The V12 TDI is closely related to the engine in the Audi R10, the two-time Le Mans winner – so it catapults the Audi R8 into supercar terrain concerning performance too. It sprints from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in just 4.2 seconds and its top speed is well over 300 km/h (186.41 mph). The peak torque, reached at only 1,750 rpm, paves the way for effortless acceleration that is unrivaled even at this level.
The new V12 TDI belongs to Audi’s family of V engines but has the ideal included angle for this engine type of 60 degrees between cylinder banks. Its highlights include the new chain drive layout that includes the two newly developed high-pressure pumps for the common rail injection system.
Its sound is as thrilling as you’d expect in a sports car of this caliber. For all the subtle smoothness that typifies this design principle, the twelve-cylinder unit is full-bodied and equipped with energetic overtones that make no secret of its performance potential.
The Genes of the Winner
Thanks to their high performance and pulling power, all Audi TDI engines are ultra-dynamic sources of power. The brand has often enough demonstrated its sporty character in its production cars, especially the six- and eight-cylinder
3.0 TDI and 4.2 TDI. Audi has also been writing a new chapter in its success story on the racetrack since 2006. The diesel engine in the R10 sports prototype won its very first endurance race at Sebring, Florida, when it was pitted against an entire field of gasoline-engined challengers. But its most crucial victories were surely in 2006 and 2007 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when it simply outclassed the international elite.
The V12 TDI race engine in the R10 produces over 650 hp from a displacement of 5.5 liters, giving it the potential for a top speed as high as 330 km/h (205.05 mph) depending on the gear ratios. Its power and sturdiness immediately impressed both fans and experts, who were impressed by its restrained noise level. Unusual for a race engine, this powerful Audi diesel makes barely more than a whisper.
Long traditions of motor racing and production technology complement each other at Audi. The FSI engine of the R10’s predecessor, the R8, captured five wins at Le Mans with a direct gasoline injection system. Audi is also looking to maximize the advantage by using the race-tested FSI principle in its production models. The latest examples of this are the V8 with high-revving concept in the RS 4 and the production version of the Audi R8.
Ultramodern Injection Technology
As is the case in the Audi V engines, the no-maintenance chain drive is mounted at the back of the engine, where it occupies little space. Its layout has changed on the new V12 TDI. The camshafts’ sprocket engages in an intermediate gear via which two Simplex chains drive the camshafts. Two more chains drive the oil pump and the two high-pressure pumps actuate the common rail injection system.
The two new dual-piston high-pressure pumps form part of the common rail injection system supplied by specialty manufacturer Bosch. The two pumps build up a pressure of up to 2,000 bar in the rails. The piezo injectors with eight-hole nozzles have also been fundamentally revised.
The high pressure distributes the mixture optimally throughout the combustion chamber. The result is that the ignition process is faster, more homogeneous and more acoustically refined. The more efficient combustion process also increases power output, cuts consumption and reduces pollutant emissions.
The current generation of so-called inline injectors makes effective use of the piezo effect: piezo crystals expand in a fraction of a millisecond when an electrical voltage is applied. The number of injection processes per operating cycle can be varied across a wide range thanks to piezo technology – reaching as many as five fuel injection operations in the case of the V12 TDI.
As well as the main injection, pilot and post injections are possible. Pilot injections tone down the acoustic harshness of the combustion process. Retarded post injections are designed specifically to increase the temperature of the exhaust gas, promoting regeneration of the two standard particulate filters.
The two turbochargers are located on the outside of the engine’s V, each of them supplying one bank of cylinders. Thanks to their variable turbine geometry, the full flow of exhaust gas always passes through the turbine, so the chargers respond slickly – even at low engine speeds – and operate very efficiently.
The two turbochargers, which generate up to 2.6 bar of boost pressure, play a crucial role in producing the huge torque of 1,000 Nm (737.56 lb-ft) that the V12 TDI maintains from 1,750 rpm to 3,000 rpm. In developing 368 kW (500 hp), the diesel achieves a specific output of 62.0 kW (84.3 hp) per liter displacement.
Two large intercoolers reduce the temperature of the compressed air. The V12 has a twin-pipe exhaust system with two particulate filters. The intake system is similar in structure with one air cleaner per cylinder bank, with an airflow meter behind it. Two control units, sharing the workload in a master/slave principle, manage events in the engine.
The Audi R8 V12 TDI concept already fulfills the Euro 6 emissions standard that is likely to take effect in 2014 and calls for sharply reduced nitrogen oxides. By also designing in ultra-precise fuel metering by the common rail system, Audi’s engineers have made full use of current clean diesel technology.
The heart of the system is a special catalytic converter downstream of the oxidizing catalyst and the particulate filter. The second component in the system is an additional tank containing an aqueous urea solution. Small quantities of the solution, known as “AdBlue,” are injected into the exhaust system. The hot exhaust gases break the solution down to form ammonia that splits the nitric oxides into nitrogen and water. The system remains effective for the entire service life of the vehicle.
The dynamic character of a sports car depends not just on its performance and torque; the transmission ratios have to be right too. In keeping with the character of a high-performance sports car with unbeatable torque potential, the transmission in the R8 V12 TDI has six manually operated gears.
The manual transmission is very compact in design. Together with the small-diameter double-plate clutch, this means it can be installed low down. The manual transmission has very short shift travel and utterly precise guiding of the shifter into the open gear lever gate. It is made from polished aluminum, has an agreeable feel and exquisite sports car looks.
Such a high-performance Audi also has quattro permanent all-wheel drive. In the case of this mid-engine sports car, power is distributed variably between the front and rear wheels from a starting ratio of 40:60 to optimize the handling.
Unmistakable Face by Day and Night
The passion expressed through the elaborate design of the lights is another typical Audi trait. Nor is anyone likely to overlook this Audi sports car from behind: the LED taillights have a three-dimensional look that can’t be missed.
But the absolute highlight is the all-LED headlights of the study vehicle. With their lenses and reflectors, not only do these innovative light sources have a ground-breaking appearance, they also have an enormous functional advantage: LED light, with its color temperature of 6,000 Kelvin, resembles daylight much more closely than xenon or even halogen light. Better light means the driver will have much less fatigue when driving at night.