Two different ideologies

It is almost impossible to compare the new Audi PB18 e-tron and the R8 V-10 Plus. While taking the shape of supercars, the Audi R8 V-10 Plus and the new Audi PB18 e-tron are different on so many levels I find it rather amusing to see where Audi is going with its e-tron and sports car program. Nevertheless, revealing the Audi PB18 e-tron at the Monterey Car Week, Audi held a long said promise of developing a super fast electric supercar. I will go one step further here and say that PB18 e-tron, if it ever reaches production heaven, will be a supercar at the very least. Currently, Audi provides a whole set of sports machines from the S and the RS line of cars. Yet, the only one to even touch the majesty of the PB18 e-tron is the Audi R8 V-10 Plus. Of course, only the most powerful version as the PB18 is plainly mad.

Let me get something off my chest right away - PB in the PB18 e-tron actually stands for Pebble Beach. It is like a specially dedicated concept crafted only for the event. The 18, on the other hand, is from the Audi LMP1 racer - the R18 e-tron. Nicely tied Audi. Well played.

Now, we can definitely call the latest Audi R8 V-10 Plus a supercar. After all, it takes all the tech from the likes of the Huracan, and that is a supercar. The PB18 e-tron, on the other hand, is an even more extreme representation of the supercar ideology. One based on electricity and torque delivery that no V-10 can ever achieve.

Visual Appearances

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The Audi R8 and the PB18 e-tron share some similarities in terms of how they look. First of all, both are low, hunkered down machines with wide fenders and angry front ends. This all points to speed. That is exactly what both of these are - speed monsters. Interestingly enough, they are similarly sized too.

Audi R8 V-10 Plus Audi PB18 e-tron
Length 174.3 inches 178.3 inches
Width 76.4 inches 78.7 inches
Height 48.8 inches 45.27 inches

With all this, it seems that the PB18 e-tron most certainly takes the R8 supercar shape and stretches it a little bit to give it more substance and then completes it with a strange, almost hatchback-like rear end.

If I did not know better, the PB18 e-tron would strike me as the R8 wagon, or something like that. Just look at it.

While the R8 immediately strikes as a mid-engine monster, the PB18 e-tron plays with shapes obviously crafted with cabin comfort in mind. See, Audi officials said that the PB18 e-tron has to provide enough room for two, for all their luggage (more than 16 cubic-feet of boot space) and provide enough comfort for long voyages. The shape definitely resonates with these wishes. So, it is a better long-hauler than the R8.

Interior Ammenities

Audi PB18 e-tron concept car makes debut in Pebble Beach Interior
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Believe it or not, all the displays inside, or even that cool steering wheel, pale in comparison with the most amazing feature of the PB18 e-tron. It is a car based around the monocoque chassis and around the idea of providing the best possible driving experience for the driver.

With that in mind, Audi thought of offering the driver a unique opportunity to position the driver's seat in the middle.

Wait, I was just talking about the passenger, how can the driver’s seat be in the middle?! Well, Audi crafted a special system by which the driver’s seat can be moved to the central position when the driver is alone in the car. This works because the steering and pedals control the car’s functions by wire and, with no mechanical linkage, it’s rather simplistic to allow these things to move from one position to another.

Gael Buzyn, Head of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu said: “We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18. That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the center. 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.”

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Interior
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Obviously, the Audi R8 V-10 Plus isn’t like this. At all. While it does offer an exceptional driving position, it is by all accounts in line with other road-going supercars today. One seat on the right and the other on the left. However, with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, numerous modern tech features, cool climate controls, and a perfect finish, the Audi R8 interior isn’t a shabby place to be.

While the PB18 e-tron offers a unique look into the possibilities of tomorrow, the R8 offers the best today can offer.

Interestingly enough, Audi was rather adamant about the PB18 e-tron’s driving characteristics. The company even noted that the internal code for the car was a Level Zero, thus directly noting that this is a driver’s car, never to be confused with any other car with Level 1, 2, 3 or whatever autonomous tech.

Quirks

This Is How The Audi PB18 e-tron Compares To The Audi R8 V-10 Plus Exterior
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Apart from that cool seating system in the PB18 e-tron, this electric car features yet another incredible innovation. See how deep the windshield goes into the front end of the car? Well, it is like this for a reason.

As this is actually an electric car, the front doesn’t feature much tech, which allows Audi to craft a see-through bonnet that gives the driver a unique look at the workings of the suspension components.

Most notably, at the red coils positioned there. It is possibly the greatest trick Audi could think of for this car. Sure, it is only a gimmick, but you cannot say it’s not cool. It is cool. Very cool.

The R8 doesn’t have anything as flamboyant as this, but that is to be expected, as it is actually a proper road going machine. Not a concept car, or a vision for the future like the PB18 e-tron is.

The suspension system for the PB18 e-tron has been taken from the LMP1 Audi racer. At least, it was inspired by it, as Audi formed a push-rod system at the front with independent control arms and installed adaptive magnetic shock absorbers. The R8 V-10 Plus also features an adaptive suspension system. Although it’s not as exotic as the one in the PB18, Audi’s magnetic ride does continuously adapt the shock absorbers to road surface conditions and driving behavior. It is a system that greatly helps Audi performance cars (the R8 included) achieve above average dynamic capacity.

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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This is, of course, a place, where the PB18 e-tron and the R8 V-10 Plus differ the most. While the R8 is a mid-engine supercar with the ICE lowered as much as possible to achieve a low center of gravity, the PB18 e-tron, on the other hand, is a natural hunkered down beast.

By building the car around electric motors and batteries, Audi was able to move the center of gravity behind the driver and, ultimately, provide a car with a strangely low center of gravity.

95-kWh of floor-mounted batteries feed three electric motors - one 150-kW motor for the front axle and two motors the rear with the cumulative power of 350 kW. Yup, the PB18 e-tron is propelled by 500 kW of power. Temporarily, for a few seconds, that can be increased to 570 kW during overboost. In Roman Catholic, that’s 764 horsepower. All with 612 pound-feet of torque. Neither the R8 V-10 or the V-10 Plus can achieve this.

In the case of the R8, the V-10 is the same as in the Lamborghini Huracan and provides a total of 610 horsepower. While impressive, it is basically puny compared to what the electric motors can do in the PB18.

Performance

This Is How The Audi PB18 e-tron Compares To The Audi R8 V-10 Plus Exterior
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With so much power, the Audi PB18 e-tron can do LMP1 like things.

This includes surging to 62 mph in freaking 2 seconds. It’s no wonder that it needs 22-inch wheels shod in 275/35 tires in the front and 315/30 in the back. All four of them transfer all the power via a Quattro AWD system.

The Audi R8 V-10 with its own Quattro system and 610 horsepower is no slouch either, making strides to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds.

Yet, I am not sure how many times the PB18 e-tron could do 0-60 mph runs without depleting the battery. If gently driven, the electric supercar will travel 310 miles on a full charge (according to WLTP procedure) which is actually awesome. Then, using the 800-volt charging system (the one developed by Porsche for the Taycan), the 95 kWh batteries can be fully-recharged in just 15 minutes. Imagine that.

Conclusion

This Is How The Audi PB18 e-tron Compares To The Audi R8 V-10 Plus High Resolution Exterior
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The R8 and the PB18 e-tron are totally different cars. While one may be the best Audi can sell you today, the PB18 e-tron is a look into a not too distant future where electricity should lead the way providing performance figures today associated only with the top-notch racing series - like the LMP1 cars such as the Audi R18.

I am not sure that all the tech shown here will end up in the cars of the future, but concept cars like this PB18 e-tron show all the possibilities new technology can muster.

Now, I can’t wait for the series production Audi e-tron supercar. I am curious what kind of tech it will adapt from the stunning PB18.

Further reading

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi R8.

This Is How The Audi PB18 e-tron Compares To The Audi R8 V-10 Plus Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept.

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Read more Audi news.

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