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by Tim Beissmann

The wraps have come off the upgraded Audi R8, with the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer revealing the refreshed sports car’s revised styling, added technology and an all-new performance flagship model to sit at the top of the range.

Headlining the updated R8 line-up is the new Audi R8 V10 plus, which teams a 404kW/540Nm 5.2-litre V10 engine with either a six-speed manual transmission or a new seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. Available only as a coupe, the R8 V10 plus S tronic races from 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds (3.8secs for the manual) and goes on to a top speed just shy of 200mph (317km/h S tronic, 319km/h manual).

Performance from the regular R8 V10’s engine is unchanged at 386kW and 530Nm. Sprint times range from 3.6 seconds for the auto coupe to 4.1 seconds, for the manual Spyder convertible.

The S tronic gearbox is now standard on all V10 models (the manual is the option), while it’s reversed for the V8s, with the manual standard and the S tronic optional.

The 4.2-litre V8 engine matches its current output, producing 316kW and 430Nm. Sprint times span from 4.3-4.8 seconds, top speed peaks at 302km/h, and combined cycle fuel consumption dips as low as 12.4 litres per 100km.

Audi Australia’s Shaun Cleary confirmed the updated R8 would hit local showrooms in the first quarter of 2013. Both body styles and both engines and transmissions will once again be offered, and Cleary said although the R8 V10 plus has not been locked in for our market at this stage, it appears “very likely” to join the rest of the range at launch time.

Prices will be revealed closer to the launch, although the new range is expected to closely resemble the current line-up, which starts at $271,500 for the V8 manual coupe.

Visually, the upgraded Audi R8 is easily distinguished by its new LED headlights and tail-lights. Piercing strips of LED daytime running lights combine with the high-gloss black grille, triple-crossbar air inlets and optional carbonfibre front splitter (standard on V10 plus) to give the refreshed R8 a more aggressive, sinister character.

Carbonfibre also extends to the mirror caps, side blades and lateral air inlets of the coupe, while the engine compartment of the V10 plus is also illuminated by LEDs.

The optional carbonfibre rear diffuser (standard on V10 plus) reaches higher than before and is flanked by two round tailpipes, which are painted black for the flagship model and glossy chrome for the rest of the range.

The R8 V8 variants sport 18-inch alloy wheels while the V10s score 19s. The new ‘wave’ design of the brake discs reduces weight by about 2kg.

The restrained interior is upholstered with a combination of Alcantara, leather and diamond-stitched Fine Nappa depending on the variant, and also sports an attractive mix of piano black, carbonfibre and satin chrome.

The V10 models feature Audi’s navigation system plus and a Bang & Olufsen sound system, while optional extras across the range include high-beam assist, parking system plus with reversing camera and stowage packages and travel cases for added practicality.

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