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Blast from the past: 2003 Audi Le Mans quattro concept

Snapshot: This concept served as a preview for the first generation Audi R8.

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There’s a very interesting car currently on display in Germany at the Audi Forum Neckarsulm as the 2003 Le Mans quattro concept is being showcased for a limited amount of time. If the vehicle’s name does not ring a bell, we should tell you that it served as a sneak preview for the first generation R8 that came out several years later. It’s easy to notice that most of the concept’s design was carried over to the production, albeit with some changes to the side mirror caps and the headlights.

The reason why this concept received the “Le Mans” moniker is because it was introduced after Audi won the legendary 24-hour endurance race for three years in a row (2000, 2001 and 2002) with the motorsport-spec R8.

While the first generation Audi R8 had a V10 5.2-liter naturally aspirated engine, the concept seen here came with a twin-turbo V10 5.0-liter motor working with a sequential-shift sports gearbox controlled through the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. With 610 bhp and 750 Nm available, the Le Mans quattro concept was one of the fastest cars in the early 2000s wrapped in a relatively lightweight package as it tipped the scales at 1,530 kg.

Just like the production-spec R8, the concept came with a quattro all-wheel drive system and was based on the company’s proprietary Aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF). It also had a Torsen inter-axle differential while the front & rear suspension consisted of double wishbone with Audi Magnetic Ride shock absorbers.

It should be very interesting to put the 2003 Audi Le Mans quattro concept on a track for a duel against the recently introduced second generation R8 V10 Plus to see how much faster the latest model is compared to its ancestor that came out 12 years ago. Speaking of the new model, it’s currently available only as a coupe but a Spyder version will join the range sometime next year.

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