December 10, 2008 Audi's new incarnation of its flagship R8 supercar will hit showrooms in 2009 sporting subtle exterior refinements including re-shaped side sills, wider cooling vents, all-LED headlamps, chrome-finished grille and 10-spoke "Y design" alloy wheels, but by far the biggest change lies beneath the surface - namely two more cylinders. The introduction of a 5.2-liter, 525 hp, V10 engine delivers significantly greater performance compared with the original 4.2 liter V8 production model released in 2006 - zero to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds (compared with 4.6 seconds), a top speed of 196.35 mph (up from 187 mph) and almost 25% more maximum torque at 530 Nm - giving it the mantle of the fastest ever road-going Audi and putting it within arms length of elite company like the Porsche 911 GT2.
The Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro shares the same aluminum-body and mid-engine configuration as its predecessor along with all-wheel drive and Audi magnetic ride adaptive damping, a system which replaces conventional fluid with a solution of minute magnetic particles that can be influenced by an electromagnetic field. The system monitors road conditions and driving style and reacts by applying a voltage to the electromagnets which in turn changes the viscosity of the fluid to deliver a smooth ride.
The new naturally aspirated, 5.2-litre FSI V10 petrol engine (a detuned version of the power-plant found in the Lamorghini Gallardo LP560-4) is mounted longitudinally directly behind the cockpit in a central location that achieves 44 per cent front / 56 per cent rear weight distribution for optimum handling balance. The engine is almost identical in construction to the unit powering the recently announced R8 LMS race car and includes dry sump lubrication, a 90 degrees cylinder angle (both of which also help to lower the center of gravity and improve handling) plus FSI gasoline direct injection. Limited to a screaming 8,700rpm in each of its six ratios, the engine reaches peak torque at 6,500 rpm and peak power at 8,000 rpm while contributing only 31kg more to the overall weight (1,620kg) of the car compared with the V8 model, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 324PS per ton.
Aerodynamic performance and road holding is enhanced by an enclosed underbody and a rear spoiler which deploys automatically at 62 mph.
Apart from the above mentioned changes to the body, the R8 V10 also boasts a new high gloss finish for the grille and front air intakes and rear outlets, oval exhaust tailpipes and a new rear diffuser.
The all-LED headlights set-up makes Audi the world’s first automaker to use LEDs for the high beam, low beam, daytime running lights, and turn signals. Each headlight integrates 54 of these high-tech light sources. With a color temperature of 6,000 Kelvin the LED light closely resembles daylight, which is less tiring to the eyes in night driving. LED footwell lighting, light and rain sensors and LED engine compartment lighting also comes as standard.
Inside the cockpit the R8 designers have aimed for a racing ambience with a healthy dose of luxuriousness with heatable Nappa leather seat covers, a driver information and sat-nav system and a 465-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system along with deluxe automatic air conditioning and an alarm system. A range of interior customization options will be available along with a made-to-measure luggage set and storage space is beyond that expected in a high-performance sportscar - 100 liters (3.53 cu ft) fit under the front hood, another 90 liters (3.18 cu ft) behind the seats.
The Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro will be released in Germany in Q2 2009 at a starting price of EUR 142,400 (approx. USD$180,000 at time of publication) with other markets expected to follow soon after.