More of the same... much more

Audi’s new R8 supercar looks little different but don’t let that deceive you

DAMION SMY

THIS is the new Audi R8 supercar.

It has a 5.2-litre V10 producing 449kW, is 50kg lighter and blasts from 0-100km/h in just 3.2 seconds. Those are tangible advances by any measure.

But not the styling, which very much adheres to the Porsche 911 mantra of ‘careful evolution’.

Has Audi been deliberately cautious with the second-gen R8 supercar? Visually, the differences are there, but they don’t smack you in the face.

The new R8 looks like a sharpening of the design direction established on the 2007 original, moreso than reinventing it.

While some may see it as an insufficient evolution, to us it looks more aggressive, more potent.

And you just know it will have a stronger presence on the road.

That 50kg weight loss is due to its aluminium spaceframe being draped with CFRP (Carbonfibrereinforced plastic), so the quattro all-wheel-drive R8’s shell is not only 15 percent lighter, but a substantial 40 percent stiffer.

The new R8 is also 40mm wider and 12mm lower than the original. The wheelbase, at 2650mm, is unchanged, but front and rear tracks are likely to be slightly wider, giving the R8 a larger dynamic footprint. Which will come in handy utilising its newfound power.

Audi has ditched the ‘entry-level’ R8 V8, opting instead for a twotiered V10 strategy: R8 V10 and R8 V10 Plus.

That means the ‘base’ R8 jumps from 316kW to an impressive 397kW, lowering its 0-100km/h time from 4.2 to 3.5sec.

The top-spec R8 V10, with 447kW and 560Nm, scorches to 100km/h in just 3.2sec, and can hit 330km/h.

The R8 continues with Audi’s trademark quattro all-wheeldrive set-up, but it’s been totally overhauled and is now capable of sending 100 percent of the torque to either the front or the rear axle.

Why you’d want a front-drive R8 is beyond us – perhaps that’s useful in snow-covered countries?

But 100 percent rear… now that sounds like fun.

In normal driving, the R8 transmits all its output to the rear axle through a carryover sevenspeed sequential transmission. As conditions demand, an electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch up front diverts up to 100 percent to the front axle.

In the cabin, clear windows let you see the mechanical magic that’s going on behind you.

Up front, there’s more technology, with Audi’s brilliant full-colour ‘virtual cockpit’ digital instrumentation feeding you constant telemetry in much more sophisticated, grown-up style than Huracan’s toy-like equivalent.

The new instrumentation has allowed Audi’s designers to remove the centre screen, and art-up the cabin with three push-buttons below the squared-up vents. There are fewer buttons than previously, with everything sharpened and honed to appear lighter and more sporting than before.

The R8 has already spilled over into an LMS version, officially confirmed by Audi, as well as a

The R8 has already spilled over into an LMS version officially confirmed by Audi

battery-powered R8 e-tron, which was stillborn in the previous gen.

This time around, the e-tron has a claimed electric range of 450km, double that of the last one, and can hit 100km/h from rest in 3.9sec.

The e-tron will be built to order in Europe. No word on whether it will come to Australia, but we can expect an R8 Spyder to spice up the range in 2017.

The Audi R8 coupe goes on sale in Europe mid-year, and should arrive in Australia in early 2016.

Expect prices to start at $350K.