Mike Stevens | Jun 9, 2009

IN A MOVE THAT has seen a 400kg lighter and 75kW less-powerful four-cylinder prototype Audi S5 lap the Nurburgring eight seconds quicker than the regular 245kW V8 model, Audi has initiated a program that will see it focus on weight reduction for future models.

In a recent interview with British magazine Autocar, Audi's Director of Technical Development, Michael Dick, confirmed that lightweight construction, along with hybrid and electric powertrains, will form the main focus for the company's modular longitudinal platform.

audi-s5_06

Dick said that weight reduction will prove to be vital in future automotive design, with lightweight construction being "the basis for the electrification of the car", as well as bringing improved handling and better fuel economy and performance.

The prototype S5 that delivered an eight second improvement over the regular S5's Nurburgring lap time features a spaceframe hybrid steel-aluminium body, with Audi engineers striking a balance between weight-saving and cost effectiveness when it comes to the amount of aluminium used in the body.

Dick told Autocar that reducing the weight of the bodyshell is the most important factor, and that shaving even 150kg will offer greatly improved dynamics.

According to Dick, fuel economy has become paramount at Audi, with engineering developments now assessed on a "cost per gram of CO2 reduction" basis.

We've known for some time now that Audi would be switching its S4 and S5 models to four-cylinder turbo-charged engines, and with its enhanced focus on lightweight construction, Audi buyers can look forward to high performance motoring without the weekly assault on their wallets.

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