Follow the light: Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro blinds with tech at CES

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi has a penchant for flamboyance, whether it’s in cars, commercials, or CES booths. Last year it showcased all its vehicles in an ultra-fluorescent floor space that had us squinting in agony. This year, it cranked up the wattage even more.

After approaching the gates of heaven, also known as Audi’s blindingly bright tunnel of God, showgoers were treated to the striking figure of the new RS 5 Cabriolet and the equally sharp crossover Q7. But that wasn’t the highlight of its visual feast. No, what crowds eagerly gathered around was the luxury automaker’s R18 e-tron quattro hybrid.

With its suite of cutting edge drive mechanics and onboard electronics, the R18 e-tron notched up an impressive overall victory at the Le Mans 24 hours race last year.

At the rear axle is a 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine pumping more than 510 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque. Housed in ultra-light carbon fiber reinforced polymer is the R18’s six-speed transmission.

Placed at the front axle is a cutting-edge motor generator unit (MGU). Here, energy is collected during braking and recycled into direct current that powers the vehicle’s flywheel accumulator. When exiting a corner, this energy can be resupplied from the accumulator to the MGU’s two electric motors that drive the front wheels.

Inside the cockpit, the R18 is just as impressive. Apart from its dazzling array of buttons and knobs, the Le Mans champ features an OLED rearview mirror that displays high-res images at breakneck speeds.

Of course, above all of that, the R18 is simply stunning to behold, and easily one of the coolest attractions to hit the floor. We doubt we’ll be seeing its drivetrain technologies make it to production cars just yet, but its digital rearview mirror has been bandied about before, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in dealerships someday soon.


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