Geneva Motor Show: Audi mixes eco ambitions with hot coupe

RSQ8 with its 476hp hybrid engine is cool, but our hearts are stolen by the 450hp RS5…

There are ample hot-blooded performance cars on the Audi stand but throughout the premium brand's presentation at the Geneva motor show, an eco element was never far behind.

Hybrids, natuaral gas and electric models were all part of the presentation, with promises of lower emissions and better fuel economy across all the range

First up in this format was the new Audi A5 Sportback presented in ‘g-tron’ format. This means the car runs on both petrol and gas. It has special tanks for CNG – compressed natural gas – with a total capacity of 19 kilograms. Those tanks have an extra-lightweight design but are extremely strong.

Running on CNG, the A5 Sportback g-tron covers up to 500 kilometers. Combined with its petrol operation, it has a total range of 950 kilometres.


Audi’s efforts to be green doesn’t end there. According to Dietmar Voggenreiter, head of sales and marketing: “we take care of your green footprint. We replace the amount of natural gas that you refuel with Audi e-gas in the overall gas grid. In this way, we bind your car’s CO2 emissions before you even start to drive: in the fuel production. We are the first car manufacturer to do that.”

Audi chairman Rupert Stadler also used the show to unveil the firm's concept version of the upcoming Q8 SUV. According to Stadler: "It features our future design language. Many elements of this concept car give you hints of the series version of the Audi Q8 to be launched in 2018. This full-size SUV is more impressive than any Audi before. It perfectly combines the elegance of a coupe with SUV functionality and sportiness.

“Inside, you will see that simplicity will be the new luxury. That’s why we’ve developed an user interface that makes things easy, with a very clean design and large touchscreens. Operating them is very convenient and intuitive. The first series model with a similar system will be the new Audi A8.”

Audi is due to renew five of its existing product lines by the middle of next year – the A8, A7, A6, Q3 and A1. It also plans three fully electric cars by the end of this decade.


But it’s the sports cars that attracted the most attention from the petrolhead audience at the Geneva show.

When designing a new sporting car, it’s always a good idea to visually reference the late eighties Audi 90 IMSA GTO race car. A distended, menacing racer, based loosely on a family-friendly Audi four-door, it packed 720hp and wheelarches that needed their own Eircode.

Well, Audi has just said that the new RS5 coupe, unveiled in Geneva, was inspired by none other than the IMSA 90. To be honest, it's only a passing visual reference, but the new RS5's 15mm-wider wheelarches to have just the faint whiff of that classic racing car about them.

More importantly, Audi has been out with the spanners under the RS5's bonnet and installed a new 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, which drives all four wheels (of course it does; this is a quattro) through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Audi claims that it's good for a 3.9sec 0-100kmh run and that, if you select the RS Dynamic option on the order form, they'll take off the normal 250kmh speed limiter and let the RS5 run on to its natural limit of 280kmh. All that thanks to 450hp and 600Nm of torque — 170Nm more than the old RS5.

For all that searing performance, Audi says that this RS5 is “the Gran Turismo of the RS range” and that it has a “high degree of everyday usability.” Inside there are big sports seats, a heads-up display and an RS-specific version of the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ all-digital instrument panel. Outside, you get the outsize wheelarches, a rear spoiler and diffuser and Matrix LED headlights. Expect it on sale later this year, priced at around the €95,000 mark.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times