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Geneva show: Audi's R8 races in

8 ball: Audi's new R8 features an all-aluminium skin and will be offered in V10, V10 plus and plug-in hybrid e-tron guise.

Audi ups the power on second-generation R8, but the styling remains evolutionary


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27 Feb 2015

AUDI has unwrapped its brutal second-generation R8 supercar just days before its its Geneva motor show debut, revealing a pair of V10-powered variants as well as the tech-laden plug-in hybrid e-tron version.

Launching in Europe mid-year, the mid-engined R8 is expected to sprint into Australian Audi showrooms in mid-2016, with specifications and pricing being kept under wraps until closer to the launch.

Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary said it was “too early” to identify the variants for the Australian market, but added that the car-maker was looking at the electrified version.

“At this stage, it’s also too early to say whether an R8 e-tron might be available for Australia,” he said. “However, such an innovative, high-performance electric supercar is certainly of great interest to us and we would seriously consider it if available.” Built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Group-owned Lamborghini Huracan that made its debut at last year's Geneva show, the new R8 shares its 5.2-litre V10 powerplant with its Italian-built relative, albeit tweaked by Audi engineers.

Under the bonnet of the R8, the fire-breathing naturally aspirated FSI V10 is available in two tunes, including the entry level version that punches out 397kW and 540Nm at 6500rpm, which is a boost over the outgoing sportscar's 386kW/530Nm in base V10 guise.

This is enough to hurl the R8 from 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds – an improvement of 0.1 seconds – before hitting a top speed of 323km/h.

In range-topping R8 V10 plus guise, power and torque rises to 449kW and 560Nm at 6500rpm, representing a big jump over the 404kW/540Nm figures of the model it replaces.

This helps propel the V10 plus from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds – 0.3 seconds quicker than the old model – 0-200km/h in 9.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 330km/h. The performance figures for the V10 plus match those of the Huracan, although the Lambo's top speed is 325km/h.

All R8 variants come with Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system and there is no longer a manual gearbox, with Audi electing to offer its “rapid-shifting” seven-speed S tronic transmission that features three automatic modes and a manual mode. It also has a launch control function.

The S tronic transmission has a coasting mode when the driver's foot is lifted from the accelerator at speeds of up to 55km/h, while the quattro system allows for variable distribution of drive torque, with up to 100 per cent directed to the rear wheels or the front wheels, depending on conditions.

Audi says the mechanical differential lock on the rear axle makes for maximum traction without slip.

Built at Audi's new Bollinger Hofe production facility, not far from the Neckarsulm plant where the outgoing model was built, the R8's body is made entirely of aluminium, while elements of the lightweight Audi Space Frame body-shell, such as the central tunnel, rear wall and B-pillars use carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).

The space frame itself weighs just 200kg, while the R8 in V10 plus spec weighs 1555kg – the outgoing plus clocked in at 1670kg – for a power-to-weight ratio of 3.46kg/kW.

The German premium car-maker says the body-shell is 15 per cent lighter than the model it replaces and torsional rigidity has improved by about 40 per cent, and described the lightweight construction as “unparalleled among the competition”.

The R8's chassis features aluminium double wishbones up front and at the rear and the Drive Select Dynamic Handling system is also available, offering comfort, auto, dynamic and individual modes to alter the steering, transmission and quattro system, depending on driver preference.

The V10 plus gains a performance mode as standard (it's an option on the regular V10) that is activated by a separate button on the steering wheel and features dry, wet and snow modes.

In V10 spec, the R8 rides on 19-inch wheels with 245/35 front and 295/35 rear tyres, while buyers can, for the first time on an R8, option 20-inch wheels with 245/30 front and 305/30 rear tyres.

Audi says the 5.2-litre FSI engine features indirect injection that “compliments” the direct petrol injection, aiding fuel efficiency and boosting engine output. The R8 also uses Cylinder on Demand technology – a system Audi uses in a number of models, including the A3 – which shuts off one or two of the cylinder banks by deactivating the injection and ignition.

Fuel use in the V10 is 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres and carbon-dioxide emissions of 275 grams per kilometre, while the V10 plus consumes 12.4L/100km and emits 289g/km. The figures represent a 10 per cent reduction when compared with the outgoing R8, and they better the Huracan's best fuel number which is 12.5L/100km.

The plug-in hybrid e-tron will certainly be the fuel-efficiency leader of the R8 pack, but Audi is holding off on releasing economy figures for its electrified sportster for the moment.

Audi says it builds the high-voltage lithium-ion battery itself and engineered it for pure electric driving, lifting its output from 49kWh to 92kWh.

The e-tron has an electric range of 450km, up from 215km, and uses a Combined Charging System for direct and alternating current, allowing for a full battery charge in “significantly less than two hours”, according to Audi.

Combined power is 340kW and maximum torque is a staggering 920Nm, pushing the e-tron from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of up to 250km/h. The e-tron uses regenerative braking and targeted torque vectoring.

In terms of design, the new R8 is an evolution of the original, losing some of the smoother lines to gain a sharper, edgier look.

Audi's new version of its Singleframe grille features up front with a honeycomb design, and the air inlets have shrunk under the new-look LED headlights that include daytime running lights with what Audi calls a “Grid-like signature”.

The side scallop is deeper than the original, the rear shoulder line is sharper and the tail end has also been squared off, with tailpipes now in a trapezoidal shape.

The cabin features Audi's virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch digital display and a number of controls grouped together on the steering wheel, while the control panel has a floating effect and Audi says the interior gives the impression of “sitting in a race car”.

It also features new bucket seats, a performance steering wheel in the V10 plus, upholstery in either Alcantara and pearl Nappa leather or fine Nappa leather , while clear-coated carbon-fibre trim elements, two leather packages and a diamond stitching pattern are optional.

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