Audi's second-generation R8 supercar will arrive in Australia in May this year with more power, more equipment, more style and... less cost?
Launching with V10 power (a replacement for the entry-level V8 has yet to be announced) and a coupe bodystyle only, the all-new R8 will start at $354,900 for the R8 V10 and top out at $389,900 for the flagship R8 V10 Plus - $11,610 and $17,910 less than the superseded R8 V10 and V10 Plus respectively.
The basic layout is unchanged, with a 5.2 litre naturally-aspirated V10 in the middle, driven wheels at all four corners, two seats in a driver-centric cockpit and an aluminium space-frame chassis tying it all together.
But nearly everything else is new.
The 5.2 litre V10 can now switch into five-cylinder mode to save fuel, the viscous centre differential has been replaced by a multi-plate clutch to improve power transfer to the front wheels, there are structural carbon fibre elements in the chassis and the interior is entirely new.
And while the silhouette is still recognisably R8, every panel is fresh. Laser or LED headlamps sit at the front, the R8's signature carbon fibre "side blades" are now split in the middle, the door handles are hidden from view and there's a sizable diffusuer and carbon rear wing and splitter for the V10 plus that adds more than 100kg of downforce at speed.
The heart of the new R8 is Audi's familiar dry-sumped 5.2 litre V10 engine, which has received a number of enhancements to lift performance and effiency.
The compression ratio has been upped from 12.5:1 to 12.7:1, and the inlet ports and intake manifold are reshaped to improve flow at high RPM.
Valve stem size and camshaft profiles are also new to promote the flow of air into the engine. Port injection is used during regular low-load driving conditions, while direct injection performs the bulk of fuel delivery at high load - such as when on a racetrack.
These refinements see power and torque jump 11kW and 10Nm to 397kW/540Nm for the new R8 V10, and a whopping 45kW and 20Nm for the 449kW/560Nm R8 V10 Plus.
The zero-to-100km/h sprint is done away with in 3.2 seconds for the V10 Plus and 3.5 seconds for the regular V10, an improvement of 0.3 and 0.1 seconds.
Top speed is a huge 330km/h for the V10 Plus (just 10km/h lower for the V10), making the new R8 the fastest production Audi ever.
The 5.2 litre V10 now has cylinder deactivation to turn it into an inline-five during light-throttle cruising, giving average fuel economy figures of 11.4 l/100km for the V10 and 12.3 l/100km for the V10 Plus - down from 13.1 and 12.9 l/100km respectively.
Engine start-stop is also standard, and all Australian-delivered models get a dual-mode exhaust system for an extra sporty engine note.
Unlike the first generation Audi R8, the new R8 V10 and V10 Plus are only available with seven-speed twin clutch automatic with paddle shifters- no manual will be offered.
That said, the driveline has been dramatically improved. Gone is the old viscous coupling that shuffled torque to the front axle, replaced instead by a water-cooled multi-plate clutch that provides a more efficient and mechanically direct path for power and torque.
The quattro all-wheel drive system sports an all-new calibration as well, which sees the torque-split become fully dynamic (there is no "default" torque-split) and up to 100 percent of torque can go to either the front or real axles.
A passive mechanical limited-slip differential is fitted to the rear axle to help improve traction and stability under power and braking.
Audi has also added a trio of new "Performance" drive modes for the V10 Plus, which loosen the stability control calibration and modify the front-to-rear torque split depending on whether you're driving on dry tarmac, wet roads or snow.
Braking hardware consists of 365mm steel rotors and eight-piston calipers up front, with 355mm rotors and four-piston calipers at the rear. The V10 Plus scores 380mm front and 356mm rear carbon-ceramic discs, clamped by six-piston and four-piston racing calipers respectively.
Electronically-adjustable magnetorheological dampers are standard for all R8 V10s, with a sportier tune for the V10 Plus. Like a true supercar, the R8 features double-wishbone suspension at each corner.
Inside, the R8 has gone from outdated and drab to cutting-edge and fab.
Audi's 12.3-inch "Virtual Cockpit" display is the centrepiece of the cabin, and like the Audi TT merges the infotainment display and instrument panel into the one sleek reconfigurable unit.
That frees up space on the centre stack to move the ventilation controls further up and add some extra centre console storage, while the deletion of the conventional parking brake gives up enough real estate to put the MMI Touch controller behind the gear selector.
More buttons have migrated to the steering wheel now, which houses not only a pair of paddle shifters plus the audio and cruise control buttons, but also the starter button, drive mode selector, instrument panel view switches, exhaust mode button and, for the V10 Plus, a Performance Mode toggle.
See below for a full list of standard equipment.
Audi R8 V10:
- 19-inch alloys
- LED headlights
- high beam assist
- Bang & Olufsen audio system
- DAB+ digital radio tuner
- Two USB audio/charging inputs/outlets
- Parking system plus
- Piano black interior trim
- Rear view camera
- Heated seats
- Keyless entry/ignition
- Dual-zone climate control
- MMI navigation plus with MMI touch
Audi R8 V10 Plus
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Audi drive select with performance mode
- Matte carbon fibre interior trim
- Alcantara headliner
- R8 bucket seats
- Audi R8 V10 – $354,900
- Audi R8 V10 Plus – $389,900
All prices do not include on-road costs