Back in 2008, Audi shocked the world with its first supercar, the R8 Coupe. It was gorgeous and looked like nothing any had ever seen before. It also boasted a brilliant 4.2 liter V8 engine and gated six-speed manual. It was so stunning Iron Man himself drove one. But Audi wasn’t done shocking the public. At the 2008 LA Auto Show, Audi decided to try and link the R8 with its Le Mans winning R10 TDI by showing off the incredible Audi R8 V12 TDI Concept.
The idea was simple — take a 6.0 liter twin-turbocharged V12 TDI diesel engine and stuff it into an R8. The TDI engine in question was an all new V12 that put out a whopping 499 hp and an earth-twisting 738 lb-ft of torque. That was supposedly good for 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, which was astonishing in 2008.
To get that monstrous engine to fit, Audi had to make quite a few adjustments to the R8. So its front end had to basically become one massive air intake, to feed the mighty V12 with much-needed air. It also had to convert its signature side-blades into air intakes. Basically, the V12 needed a lot of air.
When Audi debuted the R8 V12 TDI, it had the same brilliant gated manual shift lever that fans adored. However, they would have been disappointed to know that it didn’t have the same six-speed manual that the standard R8 had. That gearbox wouldn’t fit with the massive V12, so Audi had to borrow the same one from the A4. Except that one couldn’t handle the torque of the TDI engine. So Audi had to detune the diesel to just 400 lb-ft of torque. Making the concept a lot less exciting than many fans had hoped.
If Audi ever ended up putting it into production, a proper manual could have been developed for it. However, the Audi R8 V12 TDI never made it to production.
Instead, we got the Audi R8 V10 that borrowed the 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo and it more than made up for it. However, we must never forget the wonderful concept car that could have been. The Audi R8 V12 TDI.