There are cars and there is Audi R8. The entire review can be summarized in this single sentence because there is nothing like R8 in the world at this very moment. Are there cars capable of competing with Audi R8? Probably yes. Does that mean they are better than Audi R8? Certainly no. There might be multiple winners but Audi R8 can never, at least for now, come even as a runner up. Audi R8 is as great it is due to a few reasons. Intelligent engineering, use of lightweight materials and stupendous aerodynamic design. All of these collectively created a legend named R8. The fact that internationally several critics touted this to be the best handling road car to date speaks volumes. Designed as a two door coupe, the vehicle is created as a sports car using the Audi’s trademark Quattro with all wheel drive system, the car is considered the base to none other than the Lamborghini Gallardo. Using aluminium monocoque and designed by the coveted Quattro GmbH division of Audi, the car is destined to greatness in the history of automobiles. With two engine options defined by the number of cylinders, the high rev concept makes both the cylinders function outstandingly on the roads. The very fact that such a car can be on Indian roads, all be it on limited roads, is a matter of celebration.
EXTERIOR AND LOOK ;
Ah, the [ahem] “all-new” Audi R8 is upon us, and this seems to me more like a refresh than a redesign. Yes, I understand Audi not wanting to mess around too much with the R8’s style mojo, but c’mon guys…Up front the changes include a larger hexagonal grille with a bolder outline and a mesh insert, while the air intakes on the edges of the bumpers are shrunken and now have vertical slats. The headlights also got a mild tweak, as their edges are now straight instead of having the subtle curve that the 2015 model had. Additionally, the European market gets the new laser high-beam headlights that use a camera system to detect oncoming traffic and adjust the beam for ideal distribution. Unfortunately, the NHTSA has yet to approve them for use in the U.S.Another key change is the elimination of the vertical contrast stripe just above the rear air intake. This is one change that I am all for, but it’s not revolutionary.
Around back, the 2017 R8 gets lightly revised taillights with new graphics underlined by new rear grilles with mesh inserts. The tailpipes also gain a trapezoidal shape in place of the old circular units, and the diffuser spanning the gap between the tailpipes is revised.On the R8 V10 Plus, there is an added carbon-fiber-reinforced (CFRP) wing.Where there are some pretty significant changes are in the numbers, specifically curb weight. The 2017 R8 V10 Plus checks in at just 3,428 pounds, which is up to 110 pounds less than the 2015 model. This weight loss is thanks to a new multi-material lightweight construction that includes an Audi space frame that weighs only 441 pounds. The body is made up of CFRP B-pillars, central tunnel, and rear wall. The R8’s front end is made of aluminum, as is the roof arch and the rear section of the frame. Despite the weight loss, the new R8 is approximately 40 percent more rigid than the 2015 model. There is no mention of the weight savings in the base R8 V10, but I assume it is roughly the same.
The 2017 R8 is 174 inches long, 76.4 inches wide and 48.8 inches tall, which makes it 0.6 inch shorter, 0.4 inch wider and 0.5 inch lower. The 2017 model’s wheelbase is the same as the previous model’s at 104.3 inches.Though the aesthetic changes are quite minor, and would require a close inspection to notice, I do like the fairly drastic weight loss. I guess I need to give Audi credit for that at least.For 2017, Audi will also improve the R8 e-tron, giving it the same multi-material space frame as the standard model, and also giving it a CFRP rear section. The e-tron’s body also gets a handful of special modifications to drop its drag to 0.28 Cd.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
While the exteriors are quite different, the cabin is a huge step forward from the earlier car. The insides look fresh, new and very original; no regular Audi fare here. And there’s a real sporty element to the cabin. The attractive new bits include floating, chromed-over air-con controls that have mini screens in them; sure to be carried over to Audi sedans and SUVs. And then there’s the big, high-def screen that takes the place of the instrument panel, as on the Audi TT. Known as ‘virtual cockpit’, you can toggle between several modes and screens, the best of which happens to be a large rev counter; redlined at a crazy 8,600rpm. Then there’s the aircraft throttle-like gear selector, and the bit I like the best, the metal steering wheel with the chrome-lined buttons. On the left of the steering boss, there’s one for Audi’s Drive Select (Comfort, Performance, etc) and below that, you have the adjuster for the diff.
There are also some nice touches like the specially created rubberised mat ahead of the gear lever where you are meant to place your phone, and a bottle holder, stowed away under the elbow rest. The new R8 also has a fair-sized glovebox; but compared to something like a Porsche 911, the cabin is a bit impractical. The optional, race car-like seats on this car though, aren’t really focused on driver comfort. They look like nothing more than fixed racing buckets that are there to hold you in place. They only have a thin layer of foam and leather covering them. There’s no 127-way adjust, you can’t recline the backrest and the fore and aft control is manual. You can lift the seat up, and that is powered, but that’s about it. So, initially, finding a comfortable driving position is a bit tough.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
Finally! Now to give you an idea, the Audi R8 LMS gets 50 per cent of its parts from this R8 V10 Coupe. Namely the Space Frame and the V10 engine. Being light is exigent, and Audi’s Space Frame has high strength aluminium that incorporates carbon for 14 per cent of the construction. And then there’s this sweet 5.2-litre direct injection V10 engine strapped on to the hump of this lightweight frame. Believe it or not, this motor meets EU6 exhaust emission standards! With 602bhp on a tight leash, 60bhp more than the outgoing version, I’m sure you’re getting the picture. Hit the conspicuous red button, and the V10 coughs to life with a maniac rev that could wring motoring spirits back from the dead.
It feels nothing short of what JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories) could build for Nasa. I mean you literally take off while the mind struggles to comprehend and focus the eyes on the road. All this while your soul screams nirvana! 0-100kmph is despatched in a mind numbing 3.56sec, 150kph in 6.73 seconds and before you know it, 200kmph comes up in just over 11sec. This is partially possible due to the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission whose shifts are brutally quick. In hundredths of a second with no pause in power, the thrust is so fierce that you can sense your brain-ware working backwards to deal with the speed. Not to mention the ballistic exhaust note that’s unleashed while you’re at it. In fact, the decibel drama is so wild that we had cars, visibly farther ahead, shift off our lane.
When you’re not in the mood for performance (are you joking?), Audi has gone to the extent of altering the settings in partial load operations. This means that the injection and ignition are switched off at a cylinder bank and only five cylinders, instead of ten, are active. When needed the inactive cylinders switch on for the engine to deploy its full power within milliseconds. Audi’s deep installation position of the V10 along with a 90 degrees cylinder angle lends the R8 a low centre of gravity. What also aids the package is the double wishbone axle used on both ends of the suspension. Originating from motorsport, it offers precise steering and excellent agility. At the wheel, it didn’t take me more than a bend to figure that out. The electromechanical power steering is super quick to react to whatever is thrown at it. There’s also an aggressive eagerness to change direction which helps velocity and the line be maintained around corners.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The stiff suspension and the super low profile tyres means the ride quality is extremely stiff. You need to go really, really slow on even small bumps if you want to save your back. However, the stiff setup makes the R8 feel extremely composed and taut on straights as well as corners. The way in which the R8 enters corners and comes out shining makes you fall in love with the car. The steering is very direct and the car maintains its line well, thanks to quattro too. The huge carbon fibre ceramic disc brakes do a very fine job and speeds are shed as quickly as they are gained. The grippy tyres let you have proper fun with the car.
With a top speed of 330kmph and a acceleration rate of 3.2 seconds, the vehicle’s most pivotal factor is its safety facilities. We were satisfied with the safety layout, although we did think it could have gone a notch or two up. Drive stability is reinforced with some sound aid programs, including the Anti-lock braking system, Electronic differential lock system, Anti slip regulation and Electronic stabilisation control. Aside from this, you’re sure to have your fill of peace with an all encompassing airbag arrangement, an integrated head restraint system, seatbelts that come with a reminder for the front occupants and ISOFIX child seating anchors.
When I first saw the exterior changes – or lack thereof – I was instantly put off by the 2017 R8 and considered storming Audi’s HQ bearing a pitchfork and torch. However, once I dug deeper, I found that there was a hell of a lot of thought and engineering that went into this model. Between the loss of weight, the more ergonomic cabin, and the more powerful engines, Audi went far to make the R8 a better supercar. No too bad Audi, not bad at all…