Competes with: Porsche 911 Turbo S, Nissan GT-R, Dodge Viper, Maserati GranTurismo
Looks like: A little too much like the current R8
Drivetrain: 5.2-liter V-10 making 540 horsepower (R8 V10) or 610 hp (R8 V10 Plus), seven-speed automatic transmission, permanent all-wheel drive, or 227-hp electric motor (R8 e-tron).
Hits dealerships: TBD
Related: More 2015 Geneva Auto Show News
The original Audi R8 was a stunner, essentially a German version of the Lamborghini Gallardo, toned down in both styling and equipment from its Italian cousin but every bit as capable. Well, the Gallardo is gone, replaced by the new Lamborghini Huracan, so the R8 must evolve as well into this new second-generation model unveiled by Audi at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show. Featuring a choice of two V-10 engines or an all-electric powertrain, the new R8 may look a lot like the old one, but underneath is an all-new chassis that’s more than 100 pounds lighter than the outgoing model; it makes extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber.
The styling is definitely an evolution of the original R8. Some may lament that this is unfortunate; it should not be unexpected given the slow but evolutionary styling Audi is exhibiting across its lineup. Dimensions are similar, but the 2016 R8’s track is 1.6 inches wider, which should result in some even more stable handling (not that the old R8 needed any help in that department). Full LED headlights are available, but the new technology Audi is bringing to foreign markets are laser high-beam lights that double the range of the car’s high beams to nearly 2,000 feet. Sadly, those are not legal in the U.S. yet, so they won’t be showing up here anytime soon. The rest of the car looks remarkably similar to the old one, right down to the contrast color “side blades” that carry over as well.
Under the Hood
While more powertrains are expected to arrive, such as a V-8 engine for lesser trim models, at launch Audi has chosen to show the top-spec R8 V10 models. The standard V-10-equipped model features a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-10 engine mounted behind the passengers, making 540 horsepower and good for a 3.5-second zero-to-60-mph time, according to Audi. Step up to the R8 V10 Plus model and power gets bumped up to 610 hp while that zero-to-60 time drops to just 3.2 seconds with a top speed of 205 mph, making it the fastest production Audi ever made. Both cars deliver power through a permanent all-wheel-drive Quattro system, which is able to send 100 percent of available torque to either the front or rear axle as needed. A seven-speed S-tronic automatic transmission with selectable drive modes is standard. Using a combination of cylinder deactivation, a stop-start system and other powertrain technology tricks, Audi claims that the new R8 V10 model will achieve 19.9 mpg in mixed use.
If you want something even more exotic, Audi has released some specs for the next R8 e-tron, the all-electric version of the R8 supercar. Audi has developed the new battery in-house and claims that the new lithium-ion technology was designed specifically for electric-vehicle applications. It keeps the same dimensions as the old car, but the battery capacity climbs from 49 kilowatt-hours to a whopping 92 kWh. This reportedly gives the e-tron a range of 280 miles on a charge, which is more than double the old e-tron’s 134 miles. Using an onboard charger that combines both AC and DC charging current, the car can be fully charged in “significantly less than two hours,” according to Audi. The R8 e-tron will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and tops out at a restricted 130.5 mph.
Some much-needed attention was given to the new R8’s interior, and more than a few pages were taken out of the TT’s design book. Gone is the central display screen present in just about every other car on the road (except the TT); it’s relocated to a large gauge cluster screen behind the steering wheel. Infinitely reconfigurable, it is a driver-centric system Audi calls a virtual cockpit. The 12.3-inch display is controlled by the driver using steering-wheel buttons or duplicated controls on the center console. The Audi MMI monitor in the dashboard is no longer available, with climate control now controlled by three dedicated knobs. Given that oftentimes passengers are called upon to operate items like navigation or audio systems, we’re not entirely sure this new configuration is a step in the right direction.