One of the highlights at the 2010 Paris Motor Show will undoubtedly be the Audi e-tron Spyder, a two-seat open sports car with plug-in hybrid drive capable of delivering 128mpg economy from its 296hp twin-turbo V6 TDI engine and twin electric motors.
The Audi e-tron Spyder's low total weight of only around 3196.7 lb, combined with the high-torque TDI and the two electric motors results in impressive performance. The car accelerates to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds, and top speed is electronically governed at 155mph.
The e-tron Spyder can combine the powerful 487.5 lb-ft torque output of its TDI engine with the 259.6 lb-ft developed by its two electric motors during acceleration.
The distribution of power allows for optimal dynamics in every driving situation. The targeted application of power to the front wheels improves longitudinal dynamics while also improving lateral dynamics when cornering. This is because torque vectoring - the 'on demand' distribution of torque between the left and right wheels of the two axles - enables an exhilarating degree of driving precision and excellent agility.
Thanks also to its low weight, short wheelbase and perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the e-tron Spyder has all the drivability of a go-kart - good on bends and neutral right up to the very high handling limit.
The combination of a highly efficient TDI and electric drive also provides for excellent fuel economy and amazingly low emissions. The e-tron Spyder can cover up to 128.4mpg! A range of more than 621 miles is possible with the 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
The open sports car can also drive strictly on electric power and thus with zero emissions over distances of up to 31.07 miles and at speeds of up to 37.28mph.
The design carries over from previous e-tron concept vehicles. 5.94 ft wide, 13.32 ft long and only 3.64 ft in height - compared to the concept car in Detroit, the length and width have increased slightly to underscore the sporty aspiration of the design.
Due in no small part to the short wheelbase of only 7.97 ft shorter than that of the R8 - the body of the e-tron Spyder has a suitably stocky, purposeful stance. In an apparent homage to motorsports, the frameless side glass surfaces taper downward toward the rear. They form a unit with the windshield, which is strongly bowed and inclined like the visor of a helmet.
Another element borrowed from race cars characterizes the hood: the wide central air inlet, whose curve further accentuates the dynamics of the car's front end and provides a visual and functional link to the Audi R8 LMS customer race car. The carbon application that is mounted flush in the front and side windows and a wrap completely around the glass testifies to the design and manufacturing expertise that went into the car.
The silhouette of the e-tron Spyder is characterized by a sharp, sweeping line that immediately identifies the two-seater as an Audi. The sharply tapered front end lends the Audi e-tron Spyder show car a distinctly wedge-like basic shape. The trapeze of the single-frame grille dominates the distinctly wedge-shaped front end and is flanked by two large air intakes. They serve as cooling intakes for the electric drive system and also for the TDI engine at the rear of the vehicle. Above, the grille merges into the flat strips of the adaptive matrix beam headlight modules with their three-dimensional clear glass covers that follow the contour of the functional elements.
All light units use ultra-efficient LED technology. As with the R8 and the e-tron sports car concept cars, the trademark four rings are located above the single-frame. Beneath the trademark is the charging station for the batteries. The rings disappear beneath the front hatch, exposing not just the charging plug but also a display showing the charge state and a map graphic indicating the current electric range.
Another distinctive feature of this show car are the 20" wheels, that take the blade design of the first e-tron show car and refine it into a three-dimensional turbine design. The wheels combine the lightweight materials aluminum and carbon into a design that is both visually pleasing and very effective aerodynamically. The 66 individual components comprising each individual wheel of the e-tron Spyder are indicative of just how complex they are. The flanks sport familiar contours in a new form. Unusually sharply defined edges frame the smooth side surfaces while simultaneously separating horizontal from vertical areas.
The shoulder line frames the lines of the strongly contoured wheel wells even more distinctly than in the Audi R8 and combines them with the upper edge of the vehicle body. Particularly when viewed from the back, the e-tron Spyder appears even more strongly oriented toward the road.
This impression is also reinforced by the characteristic sills with a new cut and is picked up by the spoiler and diffuser at the front and rear of the car. Carbon elements borrow from motor sports to set special accents here as well. Carbon is also used on the engine cover in the rear and in license plate and lighting frame, which also includes the air outlets below the lateral light units.
The contrast of materials is reminiscent of a racecar. The essential functional elements of the chassis and the vehicle body are done in carbon, while the body as a cover sports a classic paint finish. This illustrates the formal "shell-and-core" principle that defines the e-tron Spyder particularly clearly.
Thanks to an opening in the hood, even the longitudinal TDI mid-engine is a visible element surrounded by matte and glossy carbon surfaces, aluminum and leather. This combination of materials links the exterior with the interior of the vehicle.
Behind the seats are two cowls that gradually taper toward the rear and also flank the opening for the TDI engine and the implied cooling fins of the engine cover. They also contain the normally hidden rollover bars, which like in the production R8 Spyder shoot up within milliseconds and lock into place in the event of an emergency.