Motoring | News

Nip and tuck: New Audi R8

The R8 goes under the knife — an even better-looking beauty and a new 550bhp model variant are unveiled

  • By Imran Malik, Sub Editor, wheels
  • Published: 10:37 August 5, 2012
  • Wheels

Convertible Audi R8
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Convertible Audi R8.
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It feels like just the other day that the Audi R8 was being unveiled to the world’s drooling press. Over the past six years, we’re guessing you, dear reader, may have lost a little hair and put on some weight. Don’t fret. Time catches up with us all — except for the R8. This thing has remained as fresh as the day it was launched.

That’s because Ingolstadt kept it interesting by unveiling an optional V10, sportier GT and a Spyder version, helping to ward off the dreaded old age. In fact just recently, we completed a monstrous photo shoot with the R8, alongside the pretty 458 Italia, the wild Lambo Aventador and the new, suave Boxster (look out for the story soon) and the Audi looked every bit as good as its younger rivals.

But there’s only so many body styles or new engines a carmaker can churn out, so Audi has finally chucked in the towel on the old model, and revealed a facelifted version. It looks just as hot as Megan Fox (after she went under the knife). Thanks to the unwavering plastics in her face and elsewhere, she’ll look great for years — much like the new R8.

Now with a brand new seven-speed S tronic gearbox, LEDs with dynamicised display, Coupé and open-top body styles, not to mention a totally new model — the flagship R8 V10 Plus — this sporty number has been given a new lease of life.

Developed and built by quattro GmbH, its single-frame grille is painted high-gloss black, while the new bumper features air inlets bearing three crossbars each. A carbon-fibre front splitter can be had for all model variants, but is standard on the V10 Plus. They all get new LED headlights with integrated indicators, and this gives the refreshed R8 a more aggressive, sinister character.

LEDs dominate the rear end too, with revised light clusters that act as indicators, while the large diffuser has been pulled upwards and the exhaust features two round tailpipes (painted black on the V10 Plus). Its aluminium space frame weighs just 210kg on the Coupé, and 216kg on the Spyder. Throw the chassis, engine, gearbox and all the rest of it in to the mix, and the unladen R8 V8 Coupé tips the scales at 1,560kg, while the convertible (boasting a roof that opens and closes in 19 seconds) weighs 1,660kg.

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The R8 V10 Plus weighs 1,570kg. The naturally aspirated V8 and V10’s displacement remains at 4.2 and 5.2-litres respectively, and power output hasn’t changed either — though three-tenths has been shaved off each car’s 0-100kph time. The 4.2-litre produces 430bhp, 430Nm of torque and does 0-100kph in 4.3 seconds, while the 5.2-litre has 525bhp, 530Nm of torque and does 0-100kph in 3.6 seconds (4.1 for the convertible). But the new V10 Plus has a ridiculous 550bhp, 540Nm of torque and it takes just 3.5 seconds to reach 100kph from standstill.

Two transmissions are offered — a six-speed manual and a new seven-speed S tronic; so no involuntary head bobbing every time it changes gear — that awful old R tronic six-speed tranny has finally been laid to rest. The interior is upholstered with a combination of Alcantara, leather and diamond-stitched Fine Nappa (this depends on the model variant) and also sports a delightful mix of piano black, carbon fibre and satin chrome trim.

The V10s get Audi’s Navigation System Plus and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Options include a high-beam assistant, a stowage package, various travel case sets and reversing camera. The refreshed R8 should be in the region at the end of 2012.

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