Audi R8 created quite a stir when launched in 2007 because it showcased the German giant’s winning ways in the ultra-tough Le Mans 24-hour race, not to mention the advantages of all-wheel drive.

The original sold for an amazingly long time in supercar terms, but an all-new model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show and details of the Australian imports have just been finalised.

Right from the start the Audi A8’s styling was out of the ordinary, particularly in the area of the controversial blades, usually in contrasting colours, in front of the rear wheels. Obviously, the Audi styling guys and gals have decided that the blades should be part of the DNA so have continued with them. Albeit in a slightly less aggressive form, in the new model. The deeper intakes at their leading edges do give them a determinedly positive appearance.

The R8 arrived with a highly-tuned 4.2-litre V8 engine in 2007. A couple of years later it was joined by a big V10 powerplant, a unit that was shared, in modified form, with Lamborghini.


Brute force is important in supercars so it comes as no surprise that the ‘mere’ V8 is no longer offered, Audi instead concentrating on the V10.

Formula One racers may have given up V10 engines in exchange for little turbo-petrol units, but Audi reckons big displacement, 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated engines are the way to go.

In its new format the Audi R8 V10 plus model provides 610 horsepower, 449 kW, that launches it to 100 km/h in a staggering 3.2 seconds. That catapult-like acceleration is partly due to the tremendous grip on the ground by the latest iteration of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. And partly because the V10 doesn’t suffer from the indignity of having to get past the lag created by a turbo engine.

Hit the loud pedal and the R8’s response is instantaneous. The mid-mounted engine producing a delightful shriek that rises and falls as it responds to the lightning upshifts by the S tronic dual-clutch seven-speed auto.


A 540 horsepower (397 kW) V10 R8 will also come to Australia, obviously at a lower price. It will be some time before pricing and full Australian specifications will be announced prior to the new R8s launch in 2016. Stay tuned for details as they come to hand.

Audi hasn’t ruled out introducing a V8 engine, as in the original R8, though this seems to be very much on the back-burner.

Built in a dedicated factory at Heilbronn, Germany, new Audi R8’s complex multi-material space-frame is 50 kg lighter than the already low-mass original model. Part of this is trimmed-down construction is due to the experience built up in a series of racing cars. The new R8 weighs in at just 1450 kg.

By the way, we anticipate seeing several Audi R8 LMS, built to the new GT3 racing regulations, amongst the leaders in the annual Bathurst 12-hour event at Bathurst in February 2016. Keep an eye (pun intended) on the newly developed laser-light headlight system that doubles the range of standard high beams.

Advancement through technology has been Audi’s slogan for many years so it comes as no surprise that a petrol-electric R8 hybrid will be sold. A claimed range of up to 450 kilometres in ideal conditions will make it usable in day-to-day life. Audi is working hard on methods of reducing battery charge time, still the bugbear of any electric vehicle, be it pure electric or working as a hybrid complemented with a combustion engine.

Electric cars haven’t exactly been a hit in Australia, partly because our governments refuse to assist buyers in any way, so the hybrid may not come to us. In any case, Audi may choose to build it only with the steering wheel on the left.

At this stage the all-new Audi R8 is offered only as a coupe; a convertible ‘spyder’ was produced in small numbers in the about to be superseded R8 and may be planned for this new generation. Spokesman for Audi Australia, Shaun Cleary, seems pretty keen on a spyder for our sunny land downunder. We will keep in touch and, hopefully, let you know of good news on a new open-top R8.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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