New Audi R8: Tiefflieger in camouflage dress

25.000 copies in eight years, lots of design and technology awards and on the racetrack over 190 victories - so completely wrong Audi with the R8. "So why should we change anything about this concept", the new Quattro boss Heinz Hollerweger coquettishly with the success of his predecessors and at the same time is in tune with a premiere that will offer few surprises. Because while BMW has bid farewell to the sports car with the i8 and old AMG has repositioned itself with the Mercedes GT, the new R8 will remain the same when it makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of next month and after the summer holidays storms into the left lane.

It starts with the design, which does not lead to any noteworthy changes even if you look closely at the camouflaged prototypes. Yes, the headlights have become flatter and wider and look even worse, especially when the new laser high beam is on. The single frame grill is a bit bigger again. The side blades for the air flow to the mid-engine are now split in two and stand up a little further and the roof falls off in a longer line. But even if the Erlkönig takes off his camouflage dress, the R8 will be recognized as such immediately, Hollerweger promises. One has to put old and new side by side so that the evolutionary steps become clear, adds one from the team.

Just like the designers, the developers have strictly followed the DNA of the top athlete. That is why the aluminum space frame, the mid-engine concept, all-wheel drive and, above all, the high-revving vacuum cleaner remain. Because while the competition bows a bit at the dictation of downsizing, the R8 can still breathe naturally in the future. Hollerweger did not want to sacrifice the spontaneous response and the sensational soundscape of his engine to this formula, less displacement and more pressure. And with such a model, consumption is just as irrelevant for customers as it is for the manufacturer's CO2 balance sheet. So in the bin with the turbo thoughts and in the box with all compressor considerations - it remains with wonderfully unreasonable ten cylinders, whose cubic capacity adds up to 5,2 liters.

Compared to its predecessor, however, the R8 once again significantly increases in performance: Even the provisional basic model will provide 540 PS. And those who order the V10plus can outdo rivals like the Porsche 610 Turbo S (560 PS, up to 911 Nm) or the Mercedes AMG GT (560 PS, 750 Nm) in the car quartet with 510 PS and 650 Nm. Only the Lamborghini Huracan lies exactly the same. No wonder: it is closely related to the R8. The Bavarians therefore only secure victory in the jump-off: Both still need 3,2 seconds for the sprint, but at 330 km / h top speed the R8 drives away from its Italian cousin with a differential speed of at least five km / h.

The powerhouse for the V10 engine is not the only thing that the developers use to justify their work. Just like on the engine, they have made small but decisive changes in many other trades: In the aluminum spaceframe, a few more carbon elements replace some metal struts and push the dry weight of the R8 by 50 to 1.454 kilograms. The body offers less drag and, above all, more downforce. And the four-wheel drive now has more play and thus accommodates the driver's play instinct. Instead of a viscous clutch, an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch now controls the power distribution and does so without any restrictions: "We can now apply up to 100 percent of the power to the front or rear axle," says Hollerweger.


The more powerful engine, the lighter but still 40 percent stiffer body and the all-wheel drive with a feeling guarantee - you only feel this progress when driving. But if you slip behind the wheel, you can tell from the stand that you're in a completely new car. And not just because in future you will be one centimeter closer to the road and four centimeters wider will allow a bit more air between the passengers. Mainly because four more control satellites are now growing from the steering wheel as in the Formula 1 and behind it flickers the Virtual Cockpit, as you know it from the TT. This not only serves the beautiful appearance and should make the new R8 look more modern. Above all, project manager Roland Schala wanted to focus the vehicle entirely on the driver. “The eyes stay on the road and the hands on the steering wheel - nothing distracts the driver from his job,” the engineer promises.

More power in a lighter car, less air resistance and more downforce, the completely variable power distribution between the two axles, an adaptive chassis, the new ergonomics behind the steering wheel and now seven driving programs that you don't even have to take your hands off the steering wheel to select - all of this results in a driving experience that is more intense and sporty than ever: "The R8 has become much, much faster," says Frank Stippler, who as the Audi factory driver gives the driver today and transfers the low-flying aircraft in camouflage dress faster and faster lap by lap drives the test track. He proves in every curve that he means not the sprint value or the top speed with the higher pace, but the many seconds that the new takes from the old in the lap time on any race track. "It gives in better, stays stable longer and at the end of the curve you can accelerate even better with it," enthuses the PS professional and estimates the perceived weight gain at least 100 kilos. But what is even more important: "The new car is child's play to control right up to the limit and saves you from unpleasant surprises."

The fact that the new R8 makes such a good impression on the racetrack is not only due to the fact that men like Stippler were involved in development and coordination and no other Audi was beaten so often over the Nordschleife & Co. It is also due to a new development philosophy, says Quattro boss Hollerweger: “With the first R8, we first put the production car on the wheels and then derived a racing car from it. This time both cars were built in parallel and have had a strong influence on each other, ”he describes the new proximity. It doesn't stop when the development is completed, but continues in Geneva, Hollerweger says. That's why we're not just showing a car there, but driving the whole family onto the stage. "

Author: Benjamin Bessinger / SP-X


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