Developed jointly with the designers from Italdesign Giugiaro, the two-seater is powered by a mid-mounted, 5.0-litre bi-turbo V10 TDI mated to a beefed-up seven-speed S tronic transmission. Delivering in excess of 400 kW (544 hp) and 1,000 Nm of torque to all four wheels – from just 1,500 rpm, the Nanuk cracks 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and reaches a 305 km/h (189 mph) top speed, with average fuel consumption working out at 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres (30 US mpg).
With a wheelbase of 2,710 millimetres, a length 4,541 mm, a width of 1,990 mm and standing 1,337 mm tall, the load-bearing body structure is a lightweight, aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF), while the outer panels are constructed from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer and finished in Extreme Red. Looking like an R8 on steroids, its face features a narrow-framed hexagonal single-frame grille, slimline headlights using Audi’s new Matrix LED technology and colossal air intakes with three upright bars. The flanks are dominated by those extremely blistered wheel arches, which accommodate 22-inch alloys and carbon ceramic brakes, along with short sideblades and tiny mirrors housing a digital camera. At the rear the brake light runs as a flat strip between the tail-lights, while the diffuser houses a pair of large, round tailpipes.
Moving inside the cockpit, beyond the scissor doors, there’s a pair of folding seats with pronounced side bolsters, while controls for the electronically controlled air suspension, the touchwheel for navigation and multimedia functions and turn signals, are located on the centre console and steering wheel. Monitors on the A-pillars relay signals from the side cameras with a screen in the roof-lining superseding the rear-view mirror. And, rather than physical dials and needles, the driver can select their desired instrument cluster from a variety of displays.
Apart from the trick air suspension, which has 70 mm of height adjustment and automatically raises up when it turns onto a gravel road, another technological highlight is the Concept’s integral steering. Two active track rods send the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels at low speed, increasing agility, and in the same direction at higher speeds, resulting in greater stability.
If this is a taste of the next R8, we like what we see. Especially that 400 kW (544 hp) diesel motor.