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First look: Audi lifts veil off sexy new supercar

Master blaster: The R8 will hit 100km/h in 4.6 seconds.

Audi has taken the covers off its R8 supercar at the Paris motor show

28 Sep 2006

AUDI’S long-awaited R8 supercar has been unveiled at the Paris motor show and proves to be pretty faithful to the Le Mans quattro concept car unveiled three years ago.

Closely related to the Lamborghini Gallardo that has been around since 2004, the R8 is Audi’s first mid-engined exotic and was inspired by the Le Mans-winning R8 sport car.

It flaunts Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 engine mounted ahead of the rear axle in a lightweight aluminum-clad space-frame body and produces zero to 100km/h times of 4.6 seconds along with a top speed of 301km/h.

The chassis, using forged aluminum double wishbones at the front and rear, offers an optional "Audi magnetic ride" adaptive damper system as an alternative to the standard gas-filled shock absorbers, and steering is by hydraulic rack-and-pinion to "provide optimum feedback to the driver".

Audi magnetic ride uses computer control to regulate the shock absorber rates via magneto-rheological fluid that reacts to an electromagnetic field to vary the viscosity. The system offers two different modes with regular or "highly sporty" characteristics.

7 center imageThe R8 is fitted with 18-inch wheels as standard (it can be ordered with 19-inch wheels) and the tyres measure 235/40 at the front and 285/35 at the rear.

The 4.2-litre dry-sumped FSI V8 produces the same 309kW/430Nm outputs as the RS4 sedan - which it is only slightly quicker than - and drives through either a manual six-speed gearbox or the optional Audi R-tronic automatic sequential-shifter.

Full-time all-wheel four-wheel drive puts the power down to the road and the mid-engine location allows a weight distribution of 44 per cent front and 56 per cent rear. The power-weight ratio is 4.5kg per kW.

The R8’s exotic coupe looks are already familiar, as the finished vehicle is very close to the Le Mans quattro concept revealed as far back as 2003.

The R8 is 1900mm wide, 4430mm long and 1250mm high and has a 2650mm wheelbase.

An interesting innovation, and one that will be optional on even something as exotic as the R8, will be the availability of LEDs for all lighting functions – high and low beam, daytime running lights and indicators.

Particularly interesting are the headlights which are "reminiscent of an open pine cone", with reflector shells arranged concentrically one behind the other in conjunction with an LED projection system, and concentrate the light from one multi-chip LED to produce the necessarily intense driving light. Audi’s Xenon-plus lights are a standard R8 fitting.

Inside, the R8 is redolent with Audi design features, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel seen in the RS4, and there’s the option of shapely sports seats over the regular Alcantara-trimmed buckets.

Audi says the R8 is a good place for two passengers and their luggage, with room even for two golf bags behind the seats as well as a 100-litre storage area at the front.

The R8 is built on a special small-capacity production line at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant in Germany at the rate of 15 cars a day and orders are being taken now for delivery in Europe in the first half of 2007.

Details of Australian availability are as-yet unannounced.

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