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    We ride shotgun in the second generation #Audi-R8-Mk2 ...

    When #Audi launched the #Audi-R8 in #2007 , it was both a show of skill and a declaration of war. Inspired by the #2003 #Le-Mans quattro concept, and sharing many core components with the #Lamborghini-Gallardo , Audi’s first ever mid-engine machine was aimed directly at the #Porsche #911 and the junior league Italian supercars.

    Thanks to its aluminium spaceframe construction, the R8 is relatively light. Blessed with timelessly elegant mid-engined supercar proportions, it offers stunning performance in a timelessly elegant package, which although basically 12-yearsold in concept, still turns heads today.

    In 2008, a mildly detuned version of the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V-10 was added to the 4.2-litre V8 offering, and the ultra- desirable Spyder version debuted in #2010 . While the charismatic open-gated manual shifter remained available to the end, at facelift time in #2012 , the clunky #R-Tronic automated manual transmission gave way to the smooth and rapid seven-speed #S-Tronic dual-clutch unit that finally rounded off the R8’s dynamic package. Last summer, the most powerful ever R8, the 562hp #Audi-R8-LMX , was launched. This limited edition of 99 cars heralded the technical culmination of the first generation R8, while hinting at some of the features the next R8 would bring, such as laser headlights.

    The R8 LMS went racing in 2009, with great success, while a full-electric #Audi-R8-E-Tron was announced in 2013, taken off the menu, and then put back on again when improved batteries made its range acceptable. Audi even dabbled with diesels, showing a #V12-TDI concept, and internally, a #V8-TDI prototype was produced as well.

    The Next Generation

    A few weeks prior to its official unveiling at the Geneva auto show, we were invited to the #Ascari racetrack for a passenger ride in a prototype of the second-generation R8, which will hit the showrooms in late 2015. We will not be able to get behind the wheel ourselves till the summer, but were quite content to ride shotgun with Audi test driver and DTM racer, Frank Stippler, who knows the new car inside out.

    The already relatively light, all aluminium R8 was put on a diet, and has shed between 50 and 100kg depending on the model and spec. The new vehicle architecture, called MSS (Modular Sport System), is an evolution of the previous R8 platform, and is shared with the Lamborghini Huracán.

    This is a mainly aluminium spaceframe using carbon-fibre for the rear bulkhead and some other structural parts. Audi say that this halfway house between an all carbonfibre tub as used by McLaren, and an allaluminium one as used by Ferrari on their #Ferrari-458 , is the best cost to strength and weight compromise for a relatively low volume car of this type.

    As work on the car had already commenced before #Porsche was integrated into the #VW Group, almost no parts are shared between the R8 and any existing Porsche model.


    The lightly camouflaged R8 prototype looks low, aggressive, and contemporary. While it retains the broad proportions of its predecessor, with similar overall length, it is slightly lower and wider than before, and its more angular lines and details make the connection to Audi’s current model line-up.

    The rakish front end of the new car features LED headlights as standard or the distinctive optional laser lights, which double the high beam range. These have now been homologated for the US market. Despite many new features, the second generation R8 retains strong styling links to its predecessor. One of these, an R8 signature styling cue, the big vertical blade behind the doors, has been re-imagined into two more subtle half blades, one below the beltline, and one above.

    The latter is now an air intake duct for cabin and engine compartment venting, and the visually unbroken strake that now runs from the doors to the top of the side air scoops gives the new car its longer, lower and more homogenous looking flanks. The standard wheel size is 19-inch, with 245/35ZR19 and 295/30ZR19 rubber front and rear. The optional 20s are shod with 245/30ZR20 and 305/30ZR20 tyres. Semislick trackday tyres are an option as are carbon-ceramic brakes.

    Initially, the new R8 will be powered by two versions of the 5.2-litre V10, the V10 and V10 Plus rated at 533 and 602bhp, with 540Nm and 560Nm of torque respectively. Both have cylinder de-activation and stop/ start for better fuel economy and lower emissions.

    The official 0-62mph (0-100km/h) numbers for the V10 and #Audi-R8-V10-Plus are 3.5 and 3.2 seconds respectively, with 0 to 200 km/h taking 11.4 and 9.9 seconds. Top speed is an ungoverned 200.7mph (323 km/h) for the 533bhp model, and an incredible 205mph (330 km/h) for the 602bhp monster. These Vmax figures are significantly better than the current model, and a testament to the new R8’s aerodynamic superiority. Only one transmission will be available, the lightning-quick, seven-speed dualclutch gearbox with Launch Control as standard. The original R8’s six-speed manual with its wonderful click-clack, riflebolt action has been consigned to history. It seems that take-up rate had dropped to just five-percent in the last year of production, its fate finally sealed by the smooth and rapid S-Tronic paddle-shift transmission.

    On Track

    As we rocket out of the pit lane the new R8 feels and sounds great from the passenger seat as the naturally-aspirated V10 struts its classic, high revving stuff. The throttle response feels linear, the power building smoothly and strongly with revs as Frank coaxes the engine to its lofty 8,850rpm redline in the intermediate gears. This is one rapid and charismatic machine. The increased power and lower weight are telling, and Frank does not hang about. As we slide through a few bends on the bald limit, the new R8’s chassis proves it is a match for the 602 horses.

    From this side of the car, the turn-in seems even crisper than before, and as Frank balances the car in varying degrees of oversteer on the way out of each bend, it is clear that the enhanced and rear-biased quattro system is a drivers’ delight. The slightly lower centre of gravity helps dynamics, and Audi has fitted a watercooled front differential, and a mechanical limited-slip differential in the rear to help apportion power. The power steering is electro-mechanical, and variable magnetic ride suspension is an option.

    Audi’s Drive Select button offers several modes, including Dynamic, which “allows the driver to notice some action,” to quote one of the engineers. On top of that, there is a Performance setting, which can be adjusted according to the road surface.

    The focus with this mode is not on hooning around, but rather on helping the driver achieve good lap times. That said, enthusiasts will be happy to learn that the stability control system can be switched off completely. The counterpoint is Comfort mode, which lowers the noise level and trims away NVH, rendering the R8 an ideal long-distance cruiser.

    While the new R8’s exterior is indeed evolutionary, the interior takes a major leap forward. Quality was always top notch, and that is unchanged, but the aesthetics of the cabin architecture and infotainment system are now state-of-the-art.

    “The new R8 moves the bar higher in every way”

    The flat-bottom steering wheel, carried over from the new TT, is fitted with four additional buttons to start and stop the engine, select the driving modes, and choose the exhaust sound level. The TFT Virtual Cockpit directly in front of the driver, is another TT carryover, and that is a good thing. With the central console mounted screen gone, the strong driver orientation of the new R8 is set in stone.

    Even the colour and trim choices are innovative. The standard leather dashboard covering features a high-tech texture, highlighted by hand stitching. Alternative leather and Alcantara upholstery is available, with a wide range of standard and quattro GmbH finishes there for the asking. The new R8 interior is now the class benchmark, and makes the cabins of the Porsche 911, #Mercedes-AMG-GT , and even the #BMW-i8 look dated.

    Audi R&D Chief, Ulrich Hackenberg, has confirmed a rear-wheel drive R8 e-tron with a 450 km range, as well as a new Spyder. The new R8 moves the bar higher in every way.
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