The Audi R8 appeared for the first time in 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show and the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The car was initially developed as a race car concept which was also able to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The road car was launched at the 2006 Paris Motor Show. This car has been designed and manufactured by Quattro GmbH, a private subsidiary of Audi AG in Germany. It has striking resemblance to the concept version.
The Audi R8 has been based on the Lamborghini Gallardo platform and an extensive use of aluminum components has been made to produce this sports car.
The R8 has a longitudinal mid-engine and comes with the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. It is available in 2-door coupe and 2-door spyder body styles. It has become quite popular all over the world and rumors suggest that the new model will be introduced in 2014.
Audi R8: The Spyder
This is the 2-door convertible version of the R8 road car. It was launched in 2009 by the automaker and comes with a fabric roof.
This version too has a mid-engine and is a 2-seater sports car based on the Le Mans race car concept.
Audi R8: Engine and Transmission
The Audi R8 Spyder has been given a 5.2 liter V10. The naturally aspirated engine has direct fuel injection and is the same as the one installed in the coupe. The 4.2 liter V8 engine is not available for the spyder initially but it was announced in 2010.
This car also has the same all-wheel drive layout with a bit more power available in the rear wheels. It is available with 7-speed R-Tronic transmissions.
Audi R8: Performance
The R8 Spyder has been built using aluminum and composite materials for the body. The Chassis and suspension wishbones too make use of aluminum in order to make the car lighter. However, the spyder ends up weighing 1720 kg which is actually 100 kg more than the coupe.
The 4.2 FSI variant of the R8 manages to produce 428 brake horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from O to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 185 mph.
The 5.2 FSI V10 engine has the capacity to produce 518 brake horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. This car can accelerate from a standstill to 62 mph in approximately 4.1 seconds. It has a top speed of 197 mph.
Audi R8: The Drive
In terms of driving experience, the Audi R8 Spyder is impressive. It offers good acceleration and power. Handling is easy with precise steering and gear shift. There is minimum lag and the tires offer excellent road grip. On rough surfaces there might be a few bumps felt by the driver but that is negligible. The interior of the car has been designed to filter out these effects as much as possible. The ride is smooth and comfortable.
The exterior is a radical shift from the regular Audi models. It is sleek and elegant. It is a proper sports car in all aspects including impressive performance. The convertible roof is an added advantage. It provides a unique experience which no other convertible in the category can. It may not be the leader in its segment but is definitely a class apart.
Audi R8: The Coupe
This is basically the 2-door and 2-seat hardtop version of the Audi R8. This was launched in the market in 2007 and was followed two years later by the spyder. It is again based on the Le Mans winner prototype and is engineered in the same way as the spyders.
Audi R8: Engine and Transmission
At the time of launch, the coupe version of the sports car came with a 4.2 liter V8 engine with 32-valve configuration. The earlier engines were non-FSI variants and used five valves per cylinder. These were later replaced with the direct Fuel Stratified Injection engines as seen today. These variants were more powerful and high revving than the older ones.
Although, the coupe too is based on Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, it has 70% power coming to the rear end. The front wheels only contribute 30% of the total power output. But it has been proven that this power difference improves the R8’s handling.
The transmission options available for the coupe include a traditional 6-speed manual and the R-Tronic variant developed by Audi. The R-Tronic is a semi-automatic transmission which does not include a clutch pedal and has the option to automatically shift gears as well.
Audi R8: Performance
Producing approximately 414 brake horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, the coupe is said to be a fraction less-powerful than the spyder. In terms of acceleration too it is a fraction of a second slower. Even though, the weight of the spyder is a disadvantage for it but it still manages to perform better than the coupe.
Audi R8: Drive
The R8 coupe is as impressive as the spyder in terms of handling and acceleration. Because the engineering of both versions is the same, they manage to provide the same pleasurable driving experience. The only major difference is that the coupe does not have the removable roof option.
Audi R8: Other versions
There are not many versions and editions available for the R8. The only option is the coupe GT and the GT Spyder. These are enhanced versions of the road car built in limited quantities for superior performance levels. There are some future projects being discussed including the R8 e-Tron and R8 NF. The new model is said to be due in 2014 but not much information has been provided by Audi regarding that except that it may have a 4.0 liter V8 engine boosted for more power.
Audi R8: Prices
In the United States the Audi R8 prices start from $114,200 for the 4.2 liter V8 version and $149,000 for the 5.2 liter versions. In the United Kingdom the 4.2 liter coupe is available for £87,935 and the 5.2 liter for £109,099. Prices for the spyder range from £87,995.00 to £109,650.00.