Audi: Our diesel-electric super car would be the best in the world. It Wouldn’t.
By Zack Klapman
Above is the Audi e-tron, the electric super-ish car that went around the ‘Ring faster than an S5 or E60 BMW M5. Quite fast, electric, good-looking. Good car. What if you added diesel to the mix? That’s basically the recipe for Audi‘s proposed diesel-electric super car. To me that means it would look good, be very efficient, and have monumental torque. To GmbH Managing Director Franciscus Van Meel, it would make it, ” the absolute best super car…” He said this to Auto Express, adding that it would be better than McLaren‘s P1.
But I don’t think it will be the absolute best supercar ever, for one very simple reason: sound.
Legend has it the car would have 700HP, and over 700TQ. It could go 0-60 in 3 seconds flat. It’s a TDI LeMans car in a designer suit, fit for public appearances. Drive to the track, break a record, and steal Amber Heard from Creepy Wonka, all while saving polar bears.
But it won’t be the best super car around, because it probably won’t sound like one.
The sound of a diesel, any diesel, is not very emotive. Or attractive. Industrial, clanky, the sound of an old logger being disturbed from a Sunday nap; this is what diesels sound like. Some (like those built by Banks) sound like they are powerful enough to rip open space and time. TDIs and Bluetecs sound like an old diesel motor, whispering at you from 1 mile down a crevasse made of cotton. Electric cars sound like….moving on.
Sound is essential to a performance car’s appeal. Science proved it turns women on, but more important is turning on the driver. And I can’t think of any magic we currently have to get an oil-burner to sound like a screaming V12, a raucous big block, or the buttery rasp of a straight 6.
I’m not against efficient supercars. I think diesel-electric hybrids are a great platform for almost any transportation need, and I fully support putting “boring” eco-friendly technology into sports car. Audi‘s car could (hypothetically) be the fastest, best-handling car ever. And I believe that one day an electric car will beat all current gas-powered records, and hit 60MPH faster than whatever flavor-of-the-week AWD monster. But it just won’t feel complete, because the hybrid will sound like James Earl Jones sighing, and an electric car won’t sound like anything. You won’t want to sit in your garage and hear it idle, rev it in a tunnel, or make children squeal behind frightened parents when you round a corner. A single but very important element of automotive enjoyment will be lost. The Audi car could, and probably will, be a phenomenal car; Built to the highest quality, performing every bit as advertised and intended, and getting 4 times the MPG of anything Lamborghini has ever made.
But without that single, yet almost omnipotent element, sound, it can never be “the best”.