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Audi eyes Lambo, Porsche with hardcore R8 GT

Grander R8: First Audi GT follows this year's new Spyder on sale in 2011.

Carbon-clad, Lambo-engined R8 GT emerges as Audi targets its supercar siblings

Audi logo3 May 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

AUDI has lifted the lid on a leaner, meaner 412kW version of its lauded R8 super-coupe, which will compete directly with stripped-out performance cars from sister companies Lamborghini and Porsche.

Just 333 examples of the new limited-edition R8 GT will be produced from early next year, with only 33 right-hand drive versions confirmed for the UK from the second quarter.

Audi Australia has confirmed “a small number” will be allocated locally, for delivery sometime in 2011.

However, expect the GT to carry a heavyweight price premium over the $341,900 5.1 FSI quattro coupe upon which it is based, as well as the topless R8 Spyder, which arrives Down Under late this year.

As GoAuto has reported, the convertible R8 was designed from the outset alongside the coupe, but Autocar reports the addition of a more focused version of the hard-top comes as a direct result of customer demand for an even wilder Audi supercar.

Based on the V10 version of the three-year-old R8, which joined the entry-level $268,500 V8 coupe on sale here in August 2009, Audi’s most serious sportscar ever will be a natural rival for hardcore super-coupes like Porsche’s 911 GT3 and Lamborghini’s Gallardo Superleggera.

Bristling with a more powerful engine, a sharper mid-engined chassis, improved aerodynamics and a weight reduction program, the R8 GT employs lessons learned from the Audi R8 LMS racecar that contests the FIA GT championship.

As such, the GT will be a road car that is also suitable for track days, with optional extras including a bolt-in rollcage, four-point racing harness, fire extinguisher and battery kill switch. All 333 R8 GTs will carry a gearshift badge bearing the individual production number of the car.

The R8 V10’s naturally aspirated direct-injection 5.204-litre V10 petrol engine has undergone a software upgrade for the GT, in which it is differentiated by unique red cylinder-heads, effectively bringing it in line with the Gallardo Superleggera’s V10, which runs a different exhaust system.

The result is 412kW of peak power – up 26kW on the standard R8 5.2 FSI and the same as all Gallardos – and 540Nm of torque at 6500rpm, for a specific power output of 79.2kW per litre: the same as the Gallardo and 10Nm more than the full-time R8 V10 production model.

7 center imageThe R8 GT engine revs even harder than the V10 fitted to BMW’s outgoing M5, with redline of 8700rpm. Like the engine on which it is based, Audi’s long-stroke 90-degree R8 GT V10 features aluminium-silicon alloy crankcases, runs 12.5:1 compression and weighs 258kg – slightly more than the R8’s aluminium space-frame body (210kg).

Combined with a weight saving of 100kg, the R8 GT has a 911 GT3-eclipsing power to weight ratio of just 3.7kg per kW and returns average combined fuel consumption of 13.7L/100km.

Audi says the R8 GT jets to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds, 200km/h in 10.8 seconds and a top speed of 320km/h, making it about as quick and fast as the Gallardo. Three-tenths quicker to 100km/h than the standard R8 V10, the GT beats Porsche’s official GT3 claim by 0.4 seconds, but remains two-tenths slower than the 911 Turbo.

A modified version of Audi’s six-speed R-tronic automated manual transmission is fitted exclusively, featuring an electro-hydraulic clutch that offers Sport and Normal auto modes, two manual-shift modes, launch control and, of course, steering wheel paddle shifters.

The R8 GT’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system is also revised, with a viscous centre coupling that now sends 85 per cent of torque to the rear wheels as standard. Up to 30 per cent of torque can be directed to the front wheels when required, while a limited-slip rear differential delivers up to 25 per cent locking action under power and up to 40 per cent on the overrun. Weight distribution remains 43:57 per cent front/rear.

Specific weight-saving measures include a new carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic engine bay lid and fixed rear wing, carbon-ceramic brake discs with unique red anodised six-piston callipers, reduced engine bay sound deadening, a lighter air intake system, a lighter battery, thinner windscreen glass and polycarbonate to replace the rear window and liftback hatch.

At 1525kg, however, the R8 GT remains 135kg heavier than the 911 GT3 and 185kg more than the Gallardo Superleggera.

In terms of its sharper chassis tuning, Audi’s GT comes with a 10mm lower ride height, firmer springs and dampers, 19-inch five twin-spoke Y-design titanium-look alloy wheels (8.5 inches wide up front and 11.0 inches wide at rear) with 235/35 front and 295/30 rear tyres, and recalibrated electronic stability control.

Apart from the fixed matt-carbon rear wing, the GT differs from the R8 V10 by featuring a front splitter and carbon-fibre ‘winglets’ on the corners of the front bumper, which also bears ‘GT’ badges, plus redesigned side hatch louvers, a CFRP rear bumper with carbon-fibre diffuser and a matt titanium grey rear number plate bezel and slats.

Audi says the result is more downforce at high speed without any reduction in the car’s 0.36Cd aerodynamic drag coefficient.

Inside, the R8 GT is distinguished by matt grey (instead of chromed) highlights, a new shifter, specific matt-aluminium ‘R8 GT’ door sills, unique instruments, and Alcantara trim for the headlining, steering wheel, seats, knee pads and parking brake, while additional standard equipment includes LED headlights and revised LED tail-lights.

The R8 GT will be available in four exterior paint colours: Samoa Orange metallic, Suzuka Gray metallic, Ice Silver metallic and Phantom Black pearl effect.

Features like power windows, automatic climate-control and Audi’s MMI driver-vehicle interface with satellite-navigation remain standard, while a 465-Watt, 10-channel Bang & Olufsen sound system, a CD changer, the Audi Music Interface system and an array of carbon-fibre interior finishes will be available as options.

Also on the R8 GT options list will be a multi-function leather steering wheel, seatbelts in red, orange or grey, ‘R8 GT’ floor mats, red illuminated CFRP door sill trims, mobile phone preparation with a belt-mounted microphone, a full leather package with contrasting stitching and, surprisingly, cruise control.

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All future models

R8 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.