The first official images of the all-new Audi R8 have been released. The second-generation version of Audi's mid-engined supercar has been causing a major stir as we approach its 2015 Geneva Motor Show launch and now we can judge its new look for the first time.
Audi's first attempt at an out-and-out supercar back in 2007 proved to be a monumental success for the firm, with Audi R8 sales far exceeding expectations. We've already been for a flat-out passenger lap in a prototype, but now we have all the definitive details on the car that could set new standards in the supercar class.
The headlines for Audi's Porsche 911 rival are this: It will only be available with a twin-clutch S tronic transmission and a V10 engine initially - with either 533bhp or 602bhp. The faster V10 Plus model covers 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and hits 205mph flat-out.
A new aluminium and carbon-fibre chassis shared with theLamborghini Huracan means it weighs 50kg less than its predecessor, but it 40 per cent stiffer. Also in Geneva will be a new all-electric 456bhp R8 e-tron model with 920Nm of torque, a range of 276-miles and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds - and you'll be able to buy one starting this year.
Prices for the standard model are confirmed as €165,00 (£121,00) for the V10 and €187,400 (£137,074 ) for the V10 Plus, but the UK prices are likely to be s lightly higher than the simple conversion.
The design is a gentle evolution from the previous model - the dimensions are virtually identical too except for 40mm extra width. The aluminium skin is wrapped tightly around the chassis and features a more aggressive bumper, split air intakes at the front and a TT-style squared-off grille which will be tacked-on to the next-generation of hot RS cars.
The side blades have been carried over along the sides, although they are now split in two, while a new aero-optimised diffuser lurks at the back and boosts downforce. A new exhaust design (a sports exhaust is optional on V10 model, standard on V10 Plus) with squared-off tailpipes also features, which sits flush with the reshaped rear end.
Standard LED lights at the front and rear feature a criss-cross design, while laser spot headlights that increase high-beam coverage to 600m in front of the car, are an option. The V10 model gets a smoother body and a pop-up spoiler at the rear, while the V10 Plus comes with a fixed rear wing, front splitter and diffuser made form carbon fibre. Ten exterior colours are available, including a new matt finish Camouflage Green, and while 19-inch wheels are standard, 20-inch alloys are offered as an option for the first time.
We've been told that a V8 and possibly even a V6, both turbocharged, will follow eventually but the new R8 will be offered only with a dry-sumped V10 engine from launch. Two power outputs will be available, either 533bhp or 602bhp in the V10 Plus model – that’s 60bhp more than the outgoing V10 Plus. There’s no manual option, only a seven-speed S tronic gearbox and four-wheel drive is standard.
In V10 Plus guise, the new R8 is capable of 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, 0-124mph in 9.9 seconds and a 205mph top speed, putting it firmly in the supercar performance ballpark. The lesser-powered model still covers 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds and tops out at 201mph.
Fuel consumption is improved by around 10 per cent thank to the addition of stop-start, a costing function when you come off the throtte and cylinder deactivation that shuts down one bank of cylinders during gentle cruising. The result is fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 23.9mpg and 275g/km in the 533bhp model.
Double-wishbone aluminium suspension is fitted at all four corners, with adaptive magnetic dampers offered as an option on both models. Also optional is a variable-ratio steering rack on both models and carbon-ceramic brakes discs on the entry-level model - they're standard on the V10 Plus. The new quattro four-wheel drive system is capable of sending up to 100 per cent of the torque to the front or rear axles if needed, while a mechanical limited slip differential splits it between the back tyres.
The chassis is shared with the Lamborghini Huracan, (although the wheelbase is stretched by 3cm) and uses the same combination of aluminium and carbon-fibre to cut the weight to 1,555kg - 50kg less than the old V10 Plus. The body panels are all aluminium, the fixed rear wing (specific to the V10 Plus, the lower-powered model gets a pop-up spoiler) is made from carbon-fibre and there’s are face-distorting carbon-ceramic brakes fitted as standard on the range-topping model. The chassis is around 40 per cent stiffer than the old car too, which explains the more compliant suspension but tighter body control.
We had the opportunity to explore the undisguised R8 cabin, although no pictures were allowed, and if you like the new TT, chances are this will float your boat. A 12.3-inch TFT ‘Virtual Cockpit’ replaces the dials and can be configured in a variety of ways. Everything can be controlled from the multi-function steering wheel, or there’s a control wheel on the centre console if you prefer. A bank of switch and air-con controls sit above that… and that’s about it. It’s an exercise in extreme minimalism, and focused 100 per cent on the driver.
Four new buttons on the steering wheel form your control. A large red button fires up the V10, another lets you switch the exhaust noise from ‘ear-splitting’ to ‘anti-social’ and one marked Drive Select let’s you toggle through the four driving modes – Comfort, Auto, Individual and Dynamic. Each tailors the throttle response, steering weight, gear change, ESC threshold, torque split of the Quattro system (it can send up to 100 per cent to either axle if required) and suspension stiffness if Magnetic dampers are fitted. The final ‘Performance’ button, marked with a chequered flag, turns things up another notch still and lets you choose between snow, wet and dry settings.
Audi has also revealed full details on an all-electric, rear-wheel drive version of the R8 at the Geneva motor show. Called the R8 e-tron, it uses two electric motors on the rear axle - producing a total of 456bhp and 920Nm. The real breakthrough for this car is its range; Audi claim it can cover 276-miles between charges (compared to 134-miles for the previous car), and charging it can take as little as two hours using a rapid charging point.
Building on the tech shown in the first R8 e-tron show car, this second-generation model uses a T-shaped battery pack down the spine of the car and behind the seats to lower the centre of gravity. Power density is nearly double that of its forerunner, hence the impressive range, and Audi builds the lithium-ion battery itself. The 0-62mph sprint takes 3.9 seconds while the top speed is limited to 155mph.
Audi is calling the car primarily a rolling laboratory for "help in creating a vehicle with sedan character," suggesting a Tesla Model S rival is well on the way, but this isn't just a technology demonstrator. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but customers will be able to order one later this year.