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Brand New Audi R8

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Tim O'Brien | Jan 12, 2009

The engineers walking around Detroit Motor Show with the smug satisfied grins on their faces will be the Audi ones. For starters, Audi had a record year last year; they were actually selling cars as opposed to 'resting' them for months on end in dealers' yards.

Secondly, those same engineers have now managed to stuff a monstrous new 5.2 litre V10 into the R8. That sort of thing appeals to engineers - it's fun. Hours of endless fun in fact. And my gosh, does it haul: 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 316 km/h. Yup, that would put a grin on anyone's face.

Audi claims the naturally aspirated R8 V10 is the result of "cumulative know-how from Audi's string of Le Mans victories". Certainly, with 386kW, 530Nm of torque, dry sump lubrication, quattro all-wheel drive and lightweight aluminum body, the R8 V10 is laden with race-bred technology and race-cred numbers .

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The departure from Audi's Le Mans warriors is that the R8 V10 is not a diesel, but a petrol engine with direct injection technology. This engine is destined for the racetracks of Europe in a new R8 race car being developed by Audi to comply with GT3 rules.

The very good news though for cashed-up driving enthusiasts is that the V10 engine "in the production sports car will be almost identical in construction to the one in the racing version" - so Audi assures us.

With a power output of 100.9 horsepower per litre of displacement , each 'horse' has to propel only 3.09 kilograms of weight. That's the kind of power-to-weight ratio that has bears dropping from the trees.

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Quattro all-wheel drive underneath, the R8 V10 can be had with a six-speed manual or the sequentially shifting R-tronic box, the latter snapping between cogs in just one-tenth of a second. For seriously quick get-aways (for those times when you're trapped between the TMR team and an unguarded hamburger), the R8 V10 comes with driver-actuated launch control - press the button, mash the pedal and you're out of there.

With a mid-engine design - the engine slung low thanks to its dry-sump lubrication - and a 44 to 56 percent axle load distribution, Audi claims the R8 V10 "responds to any steering action with instant ease, (achieving) lateral acceleration of up to 1.2 g".

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If there is any doubt about the serious road/track intent of the R8 V10, take a second to peruse the following high-end handling bits: dual aluminum wishbones front and rear, 19-inch 10-spoke wheels (equipped with tyre pressure monitoring display), high-end damper technology with 'magnetic' adaptive shock absorbers (that adapt the suspension characterists to what's happening between the wheels and the road), eye-popping eight-piston front brakes on 380mm discs and four-piston rears on 356mm discs. It can also be ordered, at a premium, with a ceramic brake system "containing high-strength carbon fibre and abrasion-resistant silicon carbide".

You know what it looks like. There are a few minor revisions for the R8 V10 over the standard R8 such as the all-LED headlights, deeper 'sideblades' with wider side sills and larger rear window. Not a lot to comment on there: some like it, some love it, some are not so sure.

One suspects though that any argument ceases the moment the V10 fires into life. That's when the talking stops; and that's why Audi engineers are walking around with silly grins on their faces, all over Detroit. (And I want one.)

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