More power, less weight. It’s not a new recipe, but it is one that Audi uses to terrific effect in the latest version of its R8 supercar. The newest, ‘GT’ variant packs 552bhp, which is a 34bhp power hike over any previous version of the all-wheel-drive two-seater. And if that isn’t enough, this version is 100kgs lighter – the weight of a hefty adult man.

When the first examples reach the UK in a year’s time, they’ll be the fastest road-going Audis yet, capable of a 199mph maximum and able to move from rest to 62mph in just 3.6secs.

The ‘standard’ R8 is already something of a flyweight, thanks to its largely hand-built aluminium spaceframe body. But Audi’s engineers have used lessons learned from the R8 LMS GT3, the circuit car which won 23 races in its first season and claimed three championships in 2009 and 2010.

Using thinner windscreen and rear hatch glass saved 9kg. Lighter sheet metal and more ‘cut-outs’ reduced the boot lid’s weight by 2.6kgs.

Audi has also used carbon-fibre reinforced plastic for the rear bonnet, bumper and slide blades, shaving away a further 13.3kgs. All-in, the new car weighs a trim 1525kgs.

While owners of such an expensive and powerful car aren’t going to worry overmuch about fuel costs, its overall consumption of 20.6mpg is actually pretty good, considering its speed.

The car runs using a sequential manual transmission, which sends 15% of power to the front wheels and the remainder to the rears during normal driving.

The car has an ESP stabilisation programme which can be switched to ‘Sport’ to give a degree of controllable oversteer when, say, accelerating out of a corner. Carbon fibre ceramic brakes haul the car to a stop.

The order books for the car open soon and it is priced at a heady £142,585 and just 33 cars will be made available for UK customers. The first will get their cars by next spring.

Stephen Jury


May 4, 2010