Finally, we can bring you photos of the new Audi R8 in full, rather than peeping out from beneath a cover. It’s also another car which won’t be a surprise in Geneva next week! But, anyway, here’s the brand new second generation of Audi’s supercar available in a range of V10 flavours from the off.
Ok, it’s a lot like we expected – but that’s not a bad thing! Despite being several years old, the original outgoing R8 hardly looked dated, so why would Audi mess with something that works? The new car is more taut and chiselled, with angles where there were once curves, but the overall shape is very familiar.
Like we pointed out when seeing the recent teaser photo, the prominent front grille is taken from the new TT, with the vertical ‘gills’ beneath the headlights borrowed from the Sport quattro Concept. Most noticeable in profile is that the R8 defining ‘sideblade’ is now cut in two. It changes one of the original R8’s most obvious, and awkward, features for the better in our eyes. In addition, the roofline is elongated, reaching almost to the very tip of the rear deck. 19″ alloy wheels comes as standard on both versions.
At the back, things are again more squared and flatter – almost reminiscent of the Lexus LFA in parts – with a substantial diffuser completing the transformation. The exhaust tailpipes are so neatly integrated into the bumper that you almost miss them on first glance. Range-topping “Plus’ cars also get a fixed spoiler, whilst the normal V10 model makes do with a discrete pop-up version. Aerodynamic changes have also occurred underneath, with a flat underbody aiding the flow of air beneath the car.
Lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium construction has helped Audi shave 50 kg from the weight of the original R8 which, when combined with the new uprated 5.2 litre V10 engine, provides for impressive performance. The base V10 – if ever that seemed an understatement – produces 533 bhp (540 PS) and 398 lb-ft of torque, whilst the ‘Plus’ version has an even more impressive 602 bhp (610 PS) and 413 lb-ft output. With no mention of a V8 version at present, it seems R8 ownership will be ten-cylinders. Oh, but if petrol power isn’t your thing, there’ll be a real production R8 e-tron electric version offered too, giving the BMW i8 a genuine supercar challenger. Although, with 456 bhp and a ludicrous 679 lb-ft of torque, the R8 e-tron wipes the floor with the i8 on stats.
Performance for the R8 e-tron promises to be, well, electric (sorry – ed) with 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph. Rather fast for an EV. However, the V10 petrol powered versions are even quicker. The base V10 hits 62 mph from rest in 3.5 seconds, with the Plus quicker still, taking only 3.2 seconds for that sprint. Both V10 models hit the magic 200 mph top speed, with the V10 Plus notching up an impressive 205 mph headline. These stats leave no doubt that Audi wants the R8 to be a real supercar contender.
One change from the previous generation is the end of the manual gearbox, with the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission the only one available now. Given the percentage of buyers who opted for the paddle-shift version previously, this is no real surprise. Power is, of course, channeled to all four wheels, with the quattro system able to channel 100% of the power to the front or rear axle as conditions demand. The quattro drivetrain also allows the car to coast when in gear, much like the TT, helping to save fuel. Although hardly eco-minded, the V10 R8 manages an official mpg of 23.9, with the V10 Plus achieving 22.8 mpg – respectable when viewed in terms of the performance on offer.
Inside is the second production usage of Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ dashboard, as first seen in the third generation TT. In fact the interior is quite stark in its minimalism and, if we’re honest, doesn’t work quite so well as the one in the TT. Perhaps it’s just how they appear in the photos, but the air vents seem to be just stuck on the dashboard – not as cool as the TT’s ones with the controls inside the vents. Also, the steering wheel and instrument panel are lifted straight from its smaller brother which, having experienced them, is no bad thing but leaves the R8 lacking in drama somewhat. We do like the addition of the ‘Drive Select’ and engine start buttons to the steering wheel though, with the V10 Plus gaining extra buttons, including one to control the sports exhaust. We approve of that last feature hugely!
The 12.3″ virtual cockpit alters its display dependent on which Drive Select mode is chosen, with performance mode showing off information such as lateral g-forces and engine outputs. There’s also a virtual shift light which flashes when the rev limiter has been reached. As you can see, Audi is keen for the R8 to feel race car derived – fitting, given the successful Le Mans prototype it shares its name with.
Initial deposits have already been taken for the new R8 in the UK, with the first deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of the year. Pricing will be confirmed after the Geneva show next week, when we’ll no doubt see more photos of it too. Perhaps one featuring the car in the optional Camouflage Green matt paintwork which has appeared on the options list! Audi, seemingly wants to make the new R8 score ‘scene points’ straight from the factory.
In brief, Audi has refined the extremely successful R8 into a new model that doesn’t divert too far from what made it a winner in the first place. Styling outside is evolutionary, whilst inside borrows from the rest of the Audi range – with mixed success. Ultimately, the performance from the V10 engine is a big deal, and the addition of a genuine e-tron electric version only adds to the appeal.