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Audi R8 V10: first official photos

Published: 08 December 2008

Audi today edges closer to Lamborghini territory with the new V10-powered R8. It’s enough to turn the R8 from a V8 sports car/911 rival/posh-TT into a genuine supercar – thanks to a 5.2-litre V10 with a stout 518bhp. It’s the Gallardo rival Audi said it would never build.

How fast is the R8 V10? Plenty quick enough, thank you very much. We’re talking 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and 196mph. It’s comfortably the most extreme roadgoing vehicle ever to emerge from Audi’s sports division Quattro GmbH – but also the most expensive. Before we start cooing over the numbers, be warned that the R8 V10 costs a whopping £22k more than the regular, £77k V8-powered R8 model.

But it looks like a regular R8! How can I spot the expensive new V10?

With a magnifying glass! There are now two, not four, bars on the front and rear air vents either side of the registration plates and the V10 is shod with new 10-spoke, Y-design alloy wheels and wide 295/30 boots at the rear. And if you miss those rims, you’ll need to spot the spoiler lip in high-gloss black and the chromed finish to the vanes on the trademark Audi grille. All 108 LEDs in the headlamps are standard-fit on the top-spec R8.

How Audi’s designers must have dabbled for months getting just the right finish on the aluminium tailpipes, millimetrically wider sidesills and more accentuated sideblades… Problem is, such minutiae is wasted on us. We just struggle to see the difference between this and the cheaper V8.

Is the R8’s V10 turbocharged then?

Nope. Contrary to earlier, spyshot reports, the R8’s ten-cylinder engine – which shares its 5204cc capacity with the S8 super-saloon – relies on no forced induction steroids for its 391lb ft kick. It prefers high revs and FSI direct injection for more precise fuel metering, to the benefit of power and economy.

The same dry-sump, 90deg V10 will power the R8 GT3 racer (see separate story here). Although we haven’t driven the R8 V10 yet, its on-paper stats promise to thrive on needle-bending revs: peak torque doesn’t arrive until a high 6500rpm while maximum power lands at a dizzying 8000rpm. Incredibly, for an Audi, the V10 keeps spinning until 8700rpm.

Audi claims this is an especially lightweight aluminium V10, the whole engine tipping in at 258kg – just 31kg more than the V8. Total kerb weight for the aluminium-bodied Audi R8 is 1620kg. How trim is that? Well, the Lambo Gallardo 560-4 powered by essentially the same 5204cc engine weighs 210kg less…

>> Click ‘Next’ for more on the new Audi R8 V10 5.2 FSI Quattro

So another astronomically powered, but mind-numbingly dull Audi missile?

Hardly. The R8 V8 is one of our very favourite sports cars du jour – and CAR Magazine’s outgoing 2007 Performance Car of the Year. Fitting the harder-hitting V10 is odds-on to transform the R8 from 911 botherer to full-on supercar slayer, we’d say.

The V10 comes as standard with a six-speed manual ’box, but Audi expects many buyers to trade up to the R tronic automated manual. It’s controlled by rocker switchers on the steering wheel and switches cogs in less than 100ms. Show-offs can attempt to frazzle the clutch by using the launch control standard on all models. The semi-auto averages 20.6mpg on the European combined cycle.

Will the R8 V10 handle like a treat or a truck?

Unsurprisingly, the newest R8 packs Audi’s trademark Quattro system with rear-biased traction and the V10’s steering ‘has been sharpened’, whatever that means. Even with the bigger lump slung amidships, the mid-engined coupe (and roadster to follow – read our separate scoop of the R8 Spider here) has a close-to-neutral 44-56 front-rear weight distribution.

Audi’s magnetic ride is standard on the V10, which changes the viscosity of the dampers in milliseconds to change the rebound rate to cope with different road surfaces and driving conditions. It’s not the only bit of snazzy engineering on the maximum R8: ceramic brakes are optional (all four discs weigh a combined 9kg) and the spaceframe body-in-white is said to weigh just 210kg. It’s held together by 99 metres of welding seams, 782 rivets and 308 screws. Sounds just like the sort of Meccano kit we’d like to receive this Christmas.

The R8 V10 goes on sale in the second quarter of 2009, wearing a price tag of £99,575 for the manual and £104,665 for the R tronic – making it not only the fastest Audi ever, but comfortably the most expensive, too. The new Lambo LP560-4 will be £44k more…

>> Audi or Lamborghini? Which would you rather have? Click ‘Add your comment’ and let us know

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet