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Audi cuts R8 variants, ups spec

Sharper, better-value Audi R8 coming soon as Australia foregoes 7kW for exhaust note

4 Feb 2020

AUDI’S race-bred flagship R8 coupe and convertible are being prepped to launch in the third quarter of this year with two distinct models for each body style, making a clear definition between rear-drive and all-wheel-drive variants.


There are also some name changes, with the single rear-drive coupe and Spyder to be known simply as the R8 RWD and the more upmarket all-wheel-drive quattro pair now wearing ‘Performance Quattro’ badges.


This is confirmation that RWD remains a permanent part of the Audi line-up after being released in 2018 as a limited model.


The R8 RWD coupe will be priced from $295,000 plus on-road costs, a reduction of about $4500 on the 2018 equivalent. The RWD Spyder will start at $316,500, while the AWD R8 Performance coupe and Spyder will be priced from $395,000 and $416,500 respectively.


The incoming R8 range will be identified with a sharper, though subtle, redesign with the accent on bringing more value to customers without sacrificing performance, according to Audi Australia director of product planning and pricing Shawn Ticehurst.


“We cut out the regular quattro that we have had before to simplify the line-up in Australia,” he said.


This in-between quattro model will continue to be offered to European customers.


Speaking to GoAuto at an Audi Sport event on the sidelines of the Bathurst 12 Hour last weekend, Mr Ticehurst said the R8 was a critical model for the German brand in Australia, not only because of its halo status but also as a vital link to the highly successful international GT3 race series.


Local specifications are still to be released, but Mr Ticehurst vowed that “Australia will get the best feature list of any market as standard equipment”.


“This will include full leather, premium audio and the best trim for the RWD. The Performance Quattro will get all the items that in other markets are treated as options,” he said.


“These include carbon-fibre trim and components inside and out, Alcantara headliner, premium leather and so on.”


The Performance Quattro will carry on with the 5.2-litre V10 – the V8s are not available – that produces 449kW of power at 8250rpm and 580Nm of torque at 6500rpm. Driving through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the coupe can blast from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds, while the Spyder takes another 0.1s.


No fuel economy figure is yet available for this engine.


In Europe, the Performance Quattro’s engine is rated at 456kW/560Nm, with the difference attributed to an exhaust filter for the European version.


Audi Australia will not make this adjustment, with Mr Ticehurst saying this was one case where buyers demand the distinctive – and loud – exhaust note that would be muted by applying the filter.


“We lost 7kW for the sake of losing the filter,” he said when comparing the R8 in Europe and Australia. “We had a choice and it was important that the exhaust sound remained.


“It is integral with the car. It is part of its character. It identifies the car and it’s something that customers demand. So there was no way we were going to have it fitted.”


The filter is fitted to European cars but is not needed to comply with existing Australian emission regulations.


The RWD has a 397kW/540Nm version of the 5.2-litre V10. It achieves the power at 7800rpm and the torque at 6500rpm. The claimed fuel economy is 11.4 litres per 100 kilometres.


Mr Ticehurst said it was important that the performance of the rear-drive variant is close to that of the quattro. Also with a seven-speed DCT, the RWD covers 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds (coupe) and 3.8 seconds (Spyder).


To achieve performance on similar scales, both variants weigh the same. Despite the extra four-wheel drive components in the Performance Quattro, both hit the scales at 1595kg (in coupe form).


“This has been achieved partly by the carbon-fibre reinforced polymer stabiliser in the front of the quattro that makes a weight reduction in the front of 35 per cent compared with the previous generation,” Mr Ticehurst said.


“The R8 also has 13 per cent of its structure of carbon-fibre and 79 per cent of aluminium.


“The patented fasteners for the panels are designed to increase the rigidity of the body and are so successful that they are used in both the road car and the GT3 version. About 50 per cent of the components of the road-going R8 are shared with the GT3 version.”


The new Australian-spec R8 will arrive with some styling updates to the exterior, including a sharper and more angular edge to the nose, a full-width black panel on the rear deck that replicates that on the GT3, and two larger-diameter and circular exhaust pipes, replacing the previous rectangular holes.


The 2020 model year R8 is expected to come with Audi’s virtual cockpit – which is spreading down the brand’s model ladder – with its 12.3-inch screen, MMI satellite navigation, Bang and Olufsen audio with speakers in the seats’ head restraints, Audi connect and infotainment, Nappa leather throughout the cabin, and LED headlights.


Running gear is expected to include magnetic ride control suspension, composite ceramic brakes and 20-inch wheels.


Audi Australia said it would not get autonomous emergency braking or other safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and lane keeping aids.


The R8 returns to the market after skipping 2019. It sold 12 units in early 2019 as a result of sale spilling from 2018, the year that the model was withdrawn as it went through a model upgrade.


In 2018 it sold only 42 cars.


2020 Audi R8 pricing*


R8 RWD Coupe $295,000
R8 RWD Spyder $316,500
R8 Performance Quattro Coupe $395,000
R8 Performance Quattro Spyder $416,500

*Excludes on-road costs

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