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Audi PB18 e-tron: future-thinking design
The PB18 e-tron draws on the styling lineage first established on the Audi Aicon concept revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, albeit with a more dramatic cab-forward silhouette. An extended cockpit incorporates tapered rear side windows and a large rear window that together hint at the look of a modern-day shooting brake.
Key elements within the design include a heavily structured front end featuring a bold hexagon-shaped grille and large air ducts, as well as thin ‘laser’ headlights and a prominent splitter designed to direct air evenly across a flat undertray.
Further back, the PB18 e-tron has large front wheel arches, ultra wide sills and cooling ducts within the leading edge of the rear wheels. The wide track stance is further emphasised by large, 22in wheels, each featuring eight asymmetric spokes intended to resemble turbine inlets, and shod with 275/35-profile front and 35/30-profile rear tyres.
The rear is dominated by an adjustable spoiler element, a full-width light bar and a high-mounted diffuser that can be adjusted downward to increase downforce.
Developed under the working title Level Zero, the PB18 e-tron eschews all of the autonomous driving functions featured on recent Audi concept cars for a more purist approach that aims to place the driver in the thick of the action.
The adoption of fully electronic steering, throttle and brake functions has allowed Audi to provide its latest concept with a variable cockpit design that allows the driver’s seat and dashboard to be positioned in two ways: either to the left of the interior, as in a typical road car, or in the centre, as in a traditional race car.
Audi says the idea for the unique variable cockpit design was inspired, in part, by the layout of its Le Mans-winning R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car. It allows the driver to choose between a central driving position when driving alone or a conventional one to provide space for a passenger.
“We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18,” said Gael Buzyn, head of the Audi Design Loft. “That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the centre. Nevertheless, our aim was to also give the PB18 e-tron a high degree of everyday usability, not just for the driver, but also for a potential passenger.”
At 4530mm in length, 2000mm in width and 1150mm in height, the PB18 e-tron is around 100mm longer, 60mm wider and 90mm lower than the current R8. It also has a wheelbase 50mm longer than Ingolstadt’s current flagship supercar.