Audi has deftly avoided any potential ‘rubbish sequel’ comments by delivering a second-generation R8 that is every bit as appealing as the first version.
Perhaps even more so given the power and torque increases along with an upgraded all-round package. The new Audi R8 is sharper, more deliberate, subtly different, but similar enough to only enhance the original styling cues that fans of the super sportscar loved. The R8 has matured, lost some of the softer, rounded edges and is more focused than ever.
It’s faster and more powerful than any other production Audi in V10 Plus specification too, so while it’s a case of evolution rather than revolution, the end result is a much more formidable and appealing beast. Audi might not have given birth to the ‘useable supercar’ tag, but the German manufacturer certainly rocked the establishment built by Porsche with the 911, and continues to do so.
It's been a sales success in Australia too, with more than 400 first generation R8s calling Australian garages home.
Here are five key facts that define the new 2016 Audi R8.
The V10 Plus hero-car is fitted with a chunky, fixed carbonfibre rear wing. The pure racer style addition been designed and sculpted to generate significant downforce at speed, such that driving the R8 at its speed limit is, according to Audi, as easy and safe as possible.
The V10 model is fitted with a smaller, more diminutive wing, one that is speed-sensitive, so at low speed it’s tucked away flush with the rear of the car. This wing is cleaner design-wise than the ‘look at me’ carbonfibre fixed rear wing, but I reckon Aussie buyers will love the more hardcore race look afforded by the bigger wing.
Despite the availability of parts-bin electronic tricky diffs, Audi has soldiered on with the fitment of a traditional LSD for the new R8. In line with the R8’s monstrous naturally aspirated performance at the expense of high tech turbo wizardry, the LSD is a refreshing, traditional mechanical link to the past.
The LSD locks in at either 25.0 or 50.0 per cent drive, while the R8’s sensational quattro AWD system can direct 100.0 per cent of the available drive to either the front or rear axle.
While that 100.0 per cent split is available in theory, in practice you’d almost never see that occur under normal circumstances. The quattro system has been recalibrated for the new R8, helping to deliver an element of the subtlety that makes the R8 different from its Lamborghini Huracan twin.
The body beautiful:
You could argue that the outgoing R8’s most obvious styling cue is the eye-catching side ‘blade’ designs aft of each door. Those blades remain for this new model, but they have now been sliced by a clever belt line design that sharpens up the side profile, while still remaining unmistakably 'R8'.
Despite what you might think if you’ve pored over the cutaway drawings and photos of the bare R8 drivetrain, the R8 retains an impressive 48:52 front/rear weight distribution. The R8’s central structure is based on an aluminium spaceframe that has been reinforced in key structural areas with carbonfibre.
The carbonfibre is glued in place, which delivers more stiffness (up 40.0 percent in terms of torsional rigidity) with reduced overall weight to an impressive 1454kg without fluids. The spaceframe chassis on its own weighs just 200kg. The outgoing R8 had no carbonfibre in the chassis itself.
Despite the family ties to the Lamborghini Huracan, having now driven both on road and track, there’s no doubt the Audi R8 retains a character all it’s own. Up to a point, the Huracan is as easy to drive as the R8, but there’s an imaginary line that you step over (or blaze through) where the Huracan goes a little crazy, just like a Lamborghini should.
The R8 however, engages in no such rampant stupidity. It’s never snappy or nasty, even at the limit. That’s largely because Audi retains its own unique calibration and tune for crucial elements such as the AWD system and engine electronics controlling crucial aspects of the drive experience including throttle response.
The result is a devastatingly fast sportscar that is also ridiculously easy to drive either sedately or on the limit. The incredible soundtrack that accompanies the R8 as the revs rise is the result of a completely different exhaust system than the Huracan for reasons of packaging mainly. The engine note is arguably even more appealing than that generated by the Lambo system.
The headlight design, crucial to any Audi vehicle but even more important for the flagship R8, has been created specifically to mimic the all-conquering Audi Le Mans race car. LEDs are standard for European-specification R8s, while high-powered laser lights are optional. The DRL graphics specifically have been carefully crafted to look as much like the race car as possible.
The result is a sharper front end profile from any angle, but one that is both unmistakably Audi and unmistakably R8. Watching the R8 blaze around the racetrack in the dead of night, both the front and rear lights look sensational. The sequential rear indicators ooze cool factor every time you see them activated, and the piercing laser headlights are mightily impressive in the dead of night.
Read our more detailed Audi R8 specifications story here.
Read our first review of the 2016 Audi R8 here.