This year's Geneva Motor Show is shaping up to be an absolutely orgy of supercars, but though there will be many that will surely outperform it, few have been as hotly anticipated as the arrival of the all-new, second-generation Audi R8. And here it is.
Based around an all-new Audi Space Frame chassis, the new R8 is constructed of a higher proportion of aluminum and carbon fiber than its predecessor. The result is a frame that weighs 15 percent less at just 441 pounds – yet is 40 percent more torsionally rigid - tipping the scales at 3,205 lbs in top spec.
Into the middle of that frame Audi has installed a revised version of its 5.2-liter V10, eschewing turbochargers but incorporating new technologies. While other powertrain options are expected to follow, Ingolstadt has gone straight for the top of the range at launch: the 'base' V10 model kicks out 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque to reach 62 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 201 mph. The upgraded V10 Plus, however, turns those figures up to 610 hp and 413 lb-ft to reach 62 in just 3.2 seconds, 124 in under ten and a 205-mph top speed. All the while, Audi has also equipped the new ten-cylinder engine with both direct and indirect injection, stop/start and cylinder deactivation systems to cut fuel consumption by 10 percent. It also boasts dry-sump lubrication and a variable exhaust system.
Power is transmitted to the road through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a mechanical diff and a revised Quattro all-wheel drive system that can send 100 percent of available torque to either the front or rear axle. Aluminum wishbones suspend it all on 19-inch wheels (or optional 20s), with available variable steering and carbon ceramic brakes (optional on the V10 and standard on the V10 Plus). Underbody aerodynamics generate more downforce and a more slippery form, aided by a deployable rear spoiler (or a fixed carbon wing on the Plus model).
All those tantalizing greasy bits are cloaked in fresh aluminum sheet-metal, riding on a track that's 1.6 inches wider: the whole shebang stretches 14.5 feet long, 6.4 feet wide and 4.1 feet high, riding on an 8.7-foot wheelbase. Among the myriad new technologies developed for the new R8 are the full LED headlights with optional laser high beams (where they're legal, at least, which currently doesn't include these United States). The cockpit is completely new as well, boasting digital instruments, controls moved to the steering wheel, shift lights and a new MMI system with a 12.3-inch display.
At present Audi has only announced pricing and availability for Europe, where the new R8 will launch this summer at 165,000 euros for the V10 and 187,400 for the V10 Plus. But that's hardly the end of the story.
Among the various other powertrain options Audi is expected to offer on the new R8 will be the electric-powered production E-Tron model, boasting 456 hp and a frankly unfathomable 679 lb-ft of torque. There'll also be a new R8 LMS for GT3 racing next year, sharing 50 percent of its parts with the roadgoing version and as much as 585 hp depending on the restrictors mandated by individual racing series.
Like what you see so far? We can hardly blame you, and there are more details in the press release below as we look forward to seeing it in the metal on the floor of the Geneva Palexpo.