The Audi TT coupe could get an ultra-hardcore version weighing less than a tonne if the firm's new technical boss has his way.
Wolfgang Durheimer has been Audi's board member with responsibility for technical development for less than 100 days his previous post was as boss of Bentley and Bugatti. However, in his first media interview in this new role, he revealed that he has already identified how some of his prior experience with the Porsche could be applied to the TT to offer a more extreme model.
'Audi is well known for lightweight construction, and reflecting on racing, you don't need to twist my arm to persuade me that lightweight can sell cars, and bring emotions and fun to the drivers,' said Durheimer. 'For this reason I think a car in the segment of the TT, weighing 1000kg, would be quite an interesting and fantastic car for the market. That's one of the first ideas I've had that can be officially mentioned.'
'The TT created an icon, and this car could be a derivative of the TT,' he added. 'The TT created a new face in the automotive market when it first appeared, and I think it will have an interesting and very emotional future at Audi.'
Durheimer admitted that getting the car's weight down to 1000kg (around 300kg less than the current car's) while offering it with four-wheel drive 'will be a challenge'. He said: 'The construction of the car would need to be in rigid sections with steel or aluminium against carbonfibre.'
'It would have a much higher price, too. I have a model in my mind that is like the (Porsche) 911 GT3, where you get 'less for more'. This car would be emotional and sporty.'
He also acknowledged that the hardcore TT would include a roll cage and expressed a preference for the car to use a five-cylinder petrol engine.
Audi could harness its diesel-hybrid Le Mans success by adding 'a super-sports car' to the top of its range, according to Durheimer. 'I was at Le Mans (24 hours) this year and saw the victory there for the R18,' he said. 'As I was driving home afterwards, I was thinking to myself, how can we leverage this success on the road?' I think that if we can do a super-high-tech race car with a diesel-hybrid drivetrain, this could be a hot seller in the sports car segment too. It would be the identical technology to the race car and would prove there is a solid technology transfer from the racetrack to the road cars.'
The car would be positioned much higher than Audi's current top sports car, the R8, and Durheimer does not believe that being powered by diesel instead of petrol would prove a sales challenge. 'What always sells is performance,' he said. 'If the car is quick, economical, and good looking, I think it would be quite an offer.'
Audi's management is meeting in the next few days to consider and prioritise a number of research projects that could eventually make production. 'We have three stages of priority and we will make the selection later this week,' said Durheimer. He insisted that the lightweight TT is 'not in the official decision-making process at Audi yet' but stated, 'I will speed it up.'
By John McIlroy