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RWD Audi R8 and autonomous concepts bow in Frankfurt


Teased mere days before its Frankfurt unveiling, Audi has not only provided complete details of its new rear-wheel drive R8, but also unveiled the Aicon and Elaine autonomous electric concepts.

R8 V10 RWS

Based on the regular R8 V10 Coupe and carrying the designation Rear Wheel Series, the limited run two-wheel drive R8 not only weighs-in at 50 kg less than its all-wheel drive sibling, but also comes equipped with a re-calibrated Drive Mode Select system, which in Dynamic Mode and with the Electronic Stability Control set to Sport, allows for controlled drifts.

External differences meanwhile are made up of black five-spoke 19-inch cast alloy wheels, matte black grille, gloss black upper side blades with the bottom finished in the body colour selected, and optional red accents on the bonnet, roof and down the rear.

Power for the RWS remains unchanged with the 5.2-litre V10 still producing 397 kW and 540 Nm of torque, enough for a 0-100 km/h drag in 3.7 seconds (Spyder: 3.8 seconds) and top speed of 320 km/h (318 km/h). 

With production limited to just 999 units, prices for the RWS in Germany will start at €140 000 (R2 170 021) for the Coupe and at €153 000 (R2 371 522) for the Spyder.

Aicon Concept

Providing a glimpse of what a four-door 2+2 electric sedan could like, the Aicon's biggest departure is that it lacks a steering wheel and pedals for a complete autonomous driving experience.

Measuring 5 444 mm in overall length with a height of 1 506 mm, wheelbase of 3 740 mm and width of 2 100 mm, the Aicon, apart from being longer than the long wheelbase version of the new A8, features a convex front window, 26-inch alloy wheels and a new take on Audi's Singleframe front grille.

It is however the level of autonomous tech that really sets the Aicon apart. Using a combination of lasers, radar and sonar to move around, and in fact distinguish between light and day as its eschews lights for 3D pixels, the Aicon's interior consists of a wraparound digital display that controls the various functions, and also features a Heads-Up Display.

Conforming to level 5 autonomous driving, power for the Aicon comes from four electric motors developing 260 kW and 550 Nm of torque, which allows for a range between 700-800 km on a single charge.


Audi also claims that the batteries can be charged up to 80% within 30 minutes, and that the Aicon can pull up to a charging station in a Artificial Intelligence (Ai) Zone on its own, and charge the batteries without any human intervention thanks to a wireless charging function.

Elaine Concept

A new take on the e-tron Sportback concept shown in Shanghai earlier this year, the Elaine essentially takes tech one step further in that it features a new zFAS controller similar to that on the A8, which allows for level 4 autonomous driving; i.e. self-driving between 60 km/h and 130 km/h.

Able to change lanes autonomously using a more advanced version of Audi's Traffic Jam Pilot, now dubbed Highway Pilot, the Elaine can also adjust to the driver's behaviour in addition to requiring no human assistance to park or drive in a AI Zone.

Styling-wise, the Elaine still resembles the e-tron, but with a new difference in that smaller LEDs are located underneath the Matrix LED headlights, which light up and project on the road to alert other drivers that it is being driven autonomously.

Power meanwhile comes from three electric motors developing 350 kW or 370 kW on overboost, allowing for a 0-100 km/h sprint in 4.5 seconds and a range of 500 km.

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