Audi has incorporated the name and the genes of the five-time Le Mans winner, the Audi R8, into a spectacular sports car. Three years after the unveiling of the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car, the production version will be making its debut at the Paris Motor Show in the guise of the new Audi R8 mid-engined sports model. It is a fascinating driving machine and the sporty pinnacle of the Audi brand. The mid-mounted 420 bhp V8 FSI engine, quattro permanent four-wheel drive and Audi Space Frame aluminium body form the basis for truly outstanding driving dynamics. The Audi R8 will be available to order from 28 September 2006; first deliveries will be made in the first half of 2007.
Even at first glance, the calibre of the car is plain to see. The Audi R8 sits broad and squat on the road, the strongly accentuated rear end appearing to flex its muscles like a sprinter ready for the off.
The car's body is highly compact in appearance. The front end and the gently curved roof arc are drawn in a sweeping line; a line which immediately marks the two-seater out as an Audi.
The side view also reveals familiar contours. The dynamic line above the wheel arches and the shoulder line interlink the front end, side and rear, imbue the doors and the transition to the side air vent with a strong presence, and even more emphatically highlight the typical Audi rounded wheel housings accommodating the big wheels.
The cabin of the Audi R8 is pushed far forward – a typical feature of a mid-engined sports car, and as such a visual cue linking it to the race car of the same name. Behind the cabin, positioned in front of the rear axle, is the V8 FSI engine, a sculptured piece of engineering visible both through the large, shield-shaped rear window and from inside the car.
The R8 is the first series-production car to offer the option of ordering all the headlight functions – dipped beam, main beam, daytime running lights and indicators – as LEDs. LED stands for 'light-emitting diodes', and represents a technology which offers substantial advantages over conventional bulbs based on a much longer life.
Because they take up less space than conventional lights, LEDs provide the designers with greater freedom to be creative. The design of the strikingly three-dimensional main headlights, using LED technology, is particularly eye-catching.
Bionics, in other words drawing design inspiration from nature, has been deployed on the R8's headlights. The light unit has a design reminiscent of an open pine cone. Reflector shells arranged concentrically one behind the other, in conjunction with a powerful LED projection system, concentrate the light from one multi-chip LED, producing a high-luminosity, even form of driving light.
The sporty interior is dominated by a totally driver-oriented cockpit architecture, integrating the driver between the dashboard and the high centre console. The instrument panel above the console is angled slightly towards the driver. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a typical feature of the sportiest Audi models, and also enables comfortable sports car entry and exit.
Form follows function: this design principle is implemented throughout the Audi R8. Alongside the driver-oriented architecture, also reflected in the styling of the side window sills, the choice of materials also makes for a highly functional look and feel. Looking around when in the driving seat makes one thing clear: just like in the R8 race car, the styling and placement of all the elements in the cockpit of this driving machine is focussed on the essentials. The centrepoint of everything is the driver.
Turbine-like power up to the highest rev ranges, a high maximum torque, all combined with a fascinating sound, are the characteristics of a perfect sports car engine. An engine that is fascinating both in terms of its enormous power potential and its suitability for everyday use.
In the high-revving 420 bhp eight-cylinder engine, the evolution of FSI petrol direct injection technology has reached a new high. This technology has also enjoyed many triumphs in the Audi R8 race car.
The figures illustrate the outstanding potential of the eight-cylinder unit. At 7,800 rpm the 4.2-litre engine delivers 309 kW (420 bhp) of power output. Peak torque is 430 Newton-metres from 4.500 to 6,000 rpm. And no less than 90 per cent of this maximum torque is maintained consistently throughout a wide engine speed range from 3,500 all the way to 7,600 rpm. As a result of these qualities, the eight-cylinder power unit provides maximum thrust in virtually any driving situation.
The performance figures are equally impressive: the R8 accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 301 km/h.
The engine is a high-revving unit. The maximum engine speed is 8,250 rpm. The advantages of this principle are superior power output at high engine speeds and a smooth, eager responsiveness all across the revs range. Added to this are its agility, liveliness and engine sound, which is similar to that of a race car.
Source: Audi press