Audi have always been at the forefront of technological breakthroughs, helping shape the future of car manufacturing from their beginnings in the late 19th century. Even their slogan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, which translates to ‘Advancement through Technology’, is testament to how forward thinking this German company really is.
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Nowadays, having a mid-engine in a Formula 1 car is the norm but back in 1932 it was Audi who implemented it into the racing sport for the very first time. Having a ‘rear-engine’, as it was called back then, meant the propeller shaft could be removed and the driver positioned lower, giving a better centre of gravity and improving aerodynamics.
In 1913, one year before the First World War broke out, Audi produced its first 8/24 car with a body made entirely out of the lightweight material Aluminium, replacing the far heavier steel used previously. This approach to a lightweight construction was the cornerstone for weight-saving solutions that remain prevalent today.
First ever five-cylinder petrol engine
A truly ground breaking engineering innovation, you might think that creating a five-cylinder engine is as simple as adding an extra cylinder to a four-cylinder model or even chopping a piston from a six but you’d be wrong. There are issues with internal balance and the need for the parts to counter each other’s forces.
How did Audi overcome this obstacle? Through electronic vibration analysis they found there was a need for stronger bracing from engine to transmission and balancing of the crankshaft, allowing them to then successfully add an extra cylinder to a four-cylinder. Genius.
The first ever TDI
Audi developed the first ever production car diesel engine with TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) in 1989. The inline five-cylinder engine (R5) was introduced in the Audi 100.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Audi unveiled groundbreaking technology with two electric concept cars that carried the ‘e-tron’ badge.
The first one was the Frankfurt show car which had four motors, one in each wheel, in turn making it a Quattro. Its specs were truly impressive, with 230KW and 4,500Nm of torque helping it reach 0-60mph in just 4.8 seconds with a huge range of 154 miles.
The second one, shown at the Detroit Motor Show, boasted a lightweight ASF-design aluminium body giving it a low gross weight of around 1,350kg.