Audi is looking for a new standard of sustainable performance for its RS brand of vehicles and a "new frontier on the product side," according to Stephan Winkelmann, chief executive of Quattro GmbH.
The former Lamborghini boss says that this is the new challenge for the RS sub-brand, which has established itself as "a lighthouse of the best performance and design that you can have when you buy an Audi".
He wants to combine "sportiness with sustainability" but admits that this might not happen immediately, since at present, outside of hypercars such as Porsche's 918, sporting versions of hybrid and electric vehicles can't provide a sustained sporting driving experience comparable with a high-performance RS car such as the RS 6 or 7.
"Such sustainable cars might not be comparable, perhaps not even for 10 years," says Winkelmann, "but we want to establish what the customer wants in terms of range, performance, how long you can accelerate - and how many times - for the sporty car of the future."
As to whether such research could drive development of more ordinary models in the way that motorsport used to improve the breed, Winkelmann isn't sure. "Certainly we drove development in the past," he says, " but whether such research could be a driver in future, I'm not sure. Today it's a revolution."
Not far across the cavernous Hall One at Geneva, at Winkelmann's previous employer Lamborghini, things were a lot brighter - or at least the paintwork of the cars was.
In particular the lovely matt orange hue of the Huracan Performante, which is called Arancia Anthaeus, apparently.
I really liked this car, partly because the Huracan hasn't been lauded as one of the great driving machines so Lamborghini has thrown more technology at it. You've got to love these guys.
The Performante version costs £211,000 on the road when it arrives in the UK in May. For that you get a 40kg diet, with dry kerb weight down to 1,392kg. The engine's been hepped up to 640PS and gets the bronze-painted cam covers of the 30th anniversary edition Diablo.
The aerodynamics are the clever part, however. Activa Aerodynamica Lamborghini consists of a forged composite carbon-fibre wing and front air splitter. Inside these forged components sit small flaps which can be moved up and down electronically to dramatically change the aero performance of the wing.
So the headline figure is that the Performante gives a total of 750 per cent more downforce than the standard Huracan, but the trick bit is that it can divide that downforce across the rear wing so that one wheel can be pushed harder into the road than the other. Calibration of this must have been a nightmare, but what larks!
The whole thing is controlled by Lamborghini's gyroscopic suspension algorithms and we'll be driving it in May.
And if you don't understand any of that, you've simply got to love the colour.
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