No model bearing the four rings is closer to motorsport, and German car giant Audi claims that “none is more striking and more dynamic.”
They refer to the second generation of the high-performance R8 sports car, which premiered at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this week.
The mid-mounted V10 and newly developed quattro all-wheel-drive system make, we’re told, for “breathtaking performance”, especially in the top-of-the-range version with 610PS, which not only powers to 62mph from rest more rapidly than any series production Audi in history but is also the first to be capable of officially pushing beyond 200mph.
The R8 has been newly developed from the ground up – it is more taut, more striking and more focused both on the race track and on the road. Key contributions to the marked improvements over its critically-acclaimed predecessor are made by the high-revving mid-mounted engine, the architecture – which places even greater emphasis on lightweight construction principles – and the advanced chassis with quattro drive system and fully variable torque control.
“Motor sport is in Audi’s genes, it has always been a permanent feature of our brand’s character,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for the Technical Development. “With the new Audi R8, our engineers are bringing accumulated racing expertise from the race track onto the road. No other model of ours evokes more dynamic emotion. The new R8 V10 plus is therefore the most powerful and fastest series-production Audi of all time.”
The 5.2-litre FSI engine at the heart of the new R8 is available in two versions: one with 540 PS and another producing 610 PS. The range-topping model accelerates in a mere 3.2 seconds from rest to 62 mph and keeps going to its maximum speed of 205 mph. The sound of the naturally aspirated V10 engine, whose maximum torque is available at 6,500 rpm, has also become fuller and sharper.
A further innovation in the 5.2 FSI engine is the addition of indirect injection. It complements the FSI direct petrol injection, lowers fuel consumption and enhances engine output. The car also employs COD (cylinder on demand) technology for the first time. The system shuts off one of the two cylinder banks by deactivating injection and ignition. The R8 V10 can return up to 23.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 275 grams per kilometre, while for the R8 V10 plus those values are 22.8mpg and 289 grams per kilometre. These figures represent a 10 per cent improvement in fuel economy compared with the previous model, due in no small part to the new start-stop system.
In both engine versions, power is transmitted to a rapid-shifting seven-speed S tronic transmission installed behind the engine. The S tronic has three automatic modes and can also be controlled manually. Shift commands are transmitted electronically (shift-by-wire). The launch control system manages full-throttle acceleration from a standing start.
Another function of the S tronic comes into play when the driver’s foot is removed from the accelerator pedal at speeds above 34mph. In such cases, both clutches open and the car enters coasting mode. This function saves a considerable amount of fuel, especially in everyday use.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system gives the new R8 a decisive advantage in terms of stability and traction when compared with two-wheel-drive competitors. On the front axle, an electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch replaces the Visco clutch of the previous model. The newly developed quattro drive system enables completely unrestricted and fully variable distribution of the drive torque to the front and rear axles depending on the driving situation and weather. In normal operation, up to 100 per cent is transmitted to the rear wheels and, if required, the clutch continuously diverts up to 100 per cent of this torque to the front wheels.
Thanks to the mechanical differential lock on the rear axle, the driver experiences maximum traction without any slip.
Additionally, the new ‘performance’ mode in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system enables adaptation of the most important ride dynamics parameters to the friction coefficient of the road.
Despite considerable extra equipment and greater rigidity, the new R8 weighs up to 50 kilograms less than its predecessor: the V10 plus, for example, has a dry weight of 1,454 kilograms.
To ensure low weight and optimum axle load distribution Audi uses the multi-material Audi Space Frame (ASF). They say the combination of aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) in the Space Frame “opens up new dimensions with regard to weight, rigidity and crash behaviour”.
Meanwhile, the aerodynamic underbody, which integrates a long diffuser, boosts downforce.
A visual distinguishing feature, which also provides enhanced safety, comes in the form of the all-LED headlights or, for an extended field of vision and more brightness, with the laser spot for the high beam which is complemented by dynamic turn signals with a scrolling function in the intended turn direction at the front. Dynamic turn signals are standard at the rear.
The Audi virtual cockpit replaces the analogue instruments and the MMI monitor. It is set in a free-standing housing and presents all the information on its 12.3-inch display. The driver can switch the all-digital display between two different view modes. These bring either the virtual dial instruments or the large navigation map into focus. The most important controls are grouped together in button clusters on the steering wheel, also known as satellites.
The second generation of the Audi R8 forms the basis for more models. The latest evolutionary version of the electrically-powered high-performance R8 e-tron sports car achieves a performance figure of 462 PS and 920 Nm (678.6 lb-ft) of torque. It sprints from a standstill to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Thanks to new battery cells, the range could be more than doubled compared to the first version – it now exceeds 280 miles.