High five

Delivering high performance in the compact segment is perhaps a bigger challenge than developing a supercar. Quattro’s technical director Stephan Reil explains how the firm balances performance and efficiency

There’s a lot of discussion in the media and among engineers working in the industry about how long OEMs can continue to produce high-performance vehicles that use large-capacity vee engines. But there is perhaps a bigger challenge for those working on halo projects.

The further down the vehicle line-up you go in an OEM’s fleet, the smaller the engines become, and the closer the microscope is placed on emissions and efficiency. But no matter what vehicle segment you are working on, there is still a call from consumers for a performance variant.

While a vehicle that hits 100km/h in three seconds and can reach a top speed in excess of 300km/h using a twin-charged V8 might emit a significant amount of carbon from the tailpipe, it won’t cause a stir in the industry because volumes are likely to be low.

But if you’re building a compact car, the pressure is far greater, because volumes will be comparatively larger, and expectations will be that emissions will be lower. The challenge is that performance can’t be cut.

It’s a conundrum that faces Stephan Reil on a daily basis. The technical director of Audi’s performance subsidiary Quattro oversees the development of vehicles as diverse as the V10-powered supercar, twin-turbo V8 RS6 and RS3 hot hatch.

“An RS model will never carry the Audi Ultra label – it won’t be a 100g/km CO2 car,” he says. “But even when you do a high-performance project you have to pull everything together to realise a car that has the lowest emissions and fuel consumption possible.”

tags: June 2015 Quattro Powertrain