The second-generation Audi R8 has officially bolted into the public sphere at last, less than a week before it makes its debut in the flesh at the Geneva motor show.
Long-awaited, the Ingolstadt marque’s V10-powered mid-engined supercar flagship is kin to the Lamborghini Huracan, and will again serve as the hardcore flagship of Audi’s global range.
In typical Audi fashion, the looks are evolutionary — and in part this is also the case under the skin. Understood to have nevertheless been mildly delayed to get the engineering just right, the new R8 naturally becomes the company’s fastest and most powerful production road car to date.
Power comes from a reworked version of its familiar hand-made (in Hungary) 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10, available in two states of tune and fitted with additional indirect injection.
The 449kW/560Nm range-topping V10 Plus (in red, above) dashes from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds — three-tenths faster than the old V10 Plus variant — the 0-200km/h sprint in 9.9s, and onto a 330km/h top speed. There’s also a 397kW/540Nm ‘entry’ version that does the 0-100km/h dash in 3.5s.
Audi has also revealed information on its new e-tron electric version, which has some remarkable figures.
According to Audi, the sound of the “freely aspirated” engine with maximum torque available at 6500 rpm has become “even fuller and sharper”. In again sports controllable flaps in the exhaust pipe, and an optional sport exhaust system makes the car sound even more “characteristic”.
The R8 also features cylinder deactivation that cuts fuel use about 10 per cent over the old model, as if you care. The claim is now 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres, or 12.4L/100km for the V10 Plus. There’s also a coasting mode above 55km/h, when each of the clutches disengages.
Power is sent to the wheels via a new quattro all-wheel-drive system that can divert 100 per cent of torque to either axle if need be, and a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. There’s no manual option.
The quattro system gets an electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch replacing the Visco clutch of the predecessor model, and like the Huracan. There’s a mechanical differential lock on the rear axle.
Audi has also managed to shave up to 50kg from the car’s dry weight, with the R8 V10 Plus tipping the scales at 1454kg despite having more equipment and 40 per cent greater torsional strength. Thank the multi-material Audi Space Frame made of aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP), which weighs only 200kg.
The more aerodynamic underbody integrates a long diffuser to boost downforce. The chassis’ incorporates reworked double-wishbone suspension made from aluminium. Oddly, Audi’s variable adaptively controlled magnetic ride shocks are only an option.
There’s also a newly developed electromechanical power steering system. A variable steering ratio can be optioned. As well as the familiar driving modes, there’s a new Performance Mode (standard for the V10 plus) activated by a separate button on the steering wheel.
The new R8 is 4420mm long, about the same as the outgoing model, but is also 40mm wider. The car’s proportions convey more of a race car character, with signature design ideas from the previous model now more pronounced and in cases exaggerated.
The four rings sit proudly on the hood, the single-frame radiator grille with honeycomb design is wider and flat. This grille merges (sort of) into the flat LED headlights. You can option Audi’s laser spot with camera-based adaptive technology which doubles the range of the high beam to 600 metres.
The rear lighting signature combines two vertical elements with a horizontal line. The lights and air inlets visually connect to one another. The two tailpipes of the exhaust system have a trapezoidal design and the rear window offers a clear view of the illuminated engine compartment. The R8 gets an electrically extending spoiler, while the R8 V10 plus gets a fixed wing made from CFRP.
Audi claims to have modelled the cabin on its race cars before adding comfort. The steering wheel has extras such as the start-stop button and a rotary wheel to control Performance Mode.
The Audi virtual cockpit — essentially, a very detailed instrumentation pod — is set in a free-standing housing and presents all the information on its 12.3-inch display, just like the new TT. Where the regular fascia would normally be, there are only vents.
The new Audi R8 is produced at the new “Böllinger Höfe” quattro GmbH production site, close to its Neckarsulm plant.