Car reviews - Audi - R8 - 5.2 FSI quattro coupe
12 Aug 2009
By CHRIS HARRIS
ABOUT ten Australians have already signed up for the sizzling new Lamborghini V10-powered version of Audi’s R8 supercar, which sets a new price benchmark for the German luxury brand in Australia, of $351,000.
Also on sale this week, the six-speed automated manual, or R-tronic, version of Audi’s new performance flagship is even more expensive at $366,900, easily eclipsing the Volkswagen premium division’s previous range-topper, the A8 6.0 quattro LWB limousine ($345,900).
Apart from being the quickest and fastest Audi production car ever produced, the R8 5.2 FSI quattro coupe will also be one of the most exclusive vehicles available in Australia.
This year’s allocation is all but spoken for, and between just 10 and 15 examples are due to arrive next year, from Audi Australia’s total allocation of 45 R8s.
Launched here in 2007, when Audi sold 22 examples, the R8 4.2 FSI quattro last year attracted 103 buyers and so far in 2009 has found at least 25 new homes, making Australia the most popular destination for the R8 in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan.
Audi says the typical R8 customer will be an affluent, status-oriented male car enthusiast aged between 48 and 50, and expects 90 per cent of sales to go to multi-vehicle households.
Described as the ultimate brand ambassador, the R8 5.2 FSI carries a price premium of $73,800 over the ‘cooking model’ R8 4.2 FSI, which carries a sticker of $277,200 as a manual and $293,100 in R-tronic guise.
Along with its ballistic new 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine and a few minor cosmetic enhancements to subtly differentiate it from the V8 base model, the top-shelf version continues to combine four trademark Audi technologies.
They include a mid/rear-mounted engine (which Audi says it introduced in 1934), the brand’s patented quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, which first appeared in 1980, an aluminium spaceframe (ASF) chassis similar in concept to the one that first emerged from Audiu in 1993, and direct-injection petrol technology, which Audi debuted in 2000.
Of course, the R8 5.2 FI provides a significant lift in performance over the R8 4.2 FSI, which is powered by the same 309kW/430Nm 4.2-litre V8 that was used to devastating effect in the discontinued RS4.
Sourced from sister company Lamborghini, it delivers no less than 386kW at 8000rpm and some 530Nm of torque from 6500rpm. With just 60kg of extra weight to accelerate, the 5.2 R8 blasts to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds in both (1620kg) manual and (1625kg) R-tronic guises.
The R8 is the first Audi model not to be electronically speed-limited, with the V10 setting a new top speed benchmark for the brand of 316km/h.
While that’s slightly off the pace of Lamborghini’s lighter (1500kg) Gallardo LP560, which runs a 412kW/540Nm version of the same engine and costs $124,000 more at $475,000, the automated E-gear version of the Gallardo is actually slower at 4.1 seconds.
Naturally, the R8 5.2 FSI is significantly quicker than the R8 4.2 FSI, which hits 100km/h in a claimed 4.6 seconds.
Of course the V10 consumes more fuel, with an official ADR 81/02 average of 14.7 litres per 100km (13.7L/100km in R-tronic form) - within 1L/100km of the V8, which returns a respective 13.9 and 13.3L/100km. Average CO2 emissions are rated at 351 grams per kilometre (manual) and 327g/km (R-tronic) – also up from the V8’s 332 and 318g/km.
Setting the 5.2 apart from the 4.2 visually are the same LED headlights that are a $10,300 option on the R8 4.2 and which are claimed to be the first of their type available in Australia.
There is also a more heavily chromed grille and revised lower front air inlet, a unique ‘Sepang Blue’ exterior paint colour, large oval-shaped chromed outboard exhaust outlets (instead of the V8’s twin round items) and exclusive 10-spoke Y-design alloy wheels in place of the 4.2’s twin five-spoke units.
The latter still measure 19x8.5-inch up front with 235/35 tyres and 19x11-inch with 295/30 rear tyres at the rear but, unlike the 4.2, the 5.2 comes standard with a hill-hold function, tyre pressure warning system, folding and auto-dimming wing mirrors, ‘Fine Nappa’ leather trim, heated seats and a 465-Watt 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound system.
As with the V8, R8 5.2 FSI quattro options include ceramic brakes for an astonishing $25,422, wider high-gloss or titanium-finish 19-inch alloy wheels ($1483), a ‘Carbon Sigma’ engine cover ($8315), the same colour for the R8’s ‘side blades’ ($5349) and interior inlays ($5720), Alcantara headlining ($3707), Audi exclusive buckets seats in black Fine Nappa leather ($8100 – with no side airbags or power adjustment), extended Fine Nappa leather trim ($8700) and a storage package ($847).
While the development of a diesel-powered version of the R8 appears to have been put on the backburner, Audi is expected to unveil a spider or convertible.
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