A guided tour of the Audi R8, with Quattro boss Heinz Hollerweger

Published: 02 March 2015

► New Audi R8 makes world debut
► The man responsible talks us round
► Key reaction from Geneva show

This is the new Audi R8, star of Audi’s Geneva motor show stand. The second-generation supercar from Ingolstadt features Audi’s spaceframe aluminium chassis, Quattro permanent all-wheel drive, and a 5.2-litre V10 engine in two states of tune: 532bhp and 602bhp in the V10 Plus.

CAR caught up with Quattro GmbH boss Heinz Hollerweger at Geneva to discuss Ingolstadt’s crucial new supercar.

Click here for the full analysis, news and photos of the new Audi R8.

CAR: The styling is very conservative… Presumably that’s a conscious decision?

HH: ‘Yes, the R8 is an icon, and you have to be careful with that. We chose to evolve the design, rather than reinvent it.’

Will this generation be as much fun to drive as last time?

‘Yes, and it’s better. Last time, we developed a race car from the road car; this time we are developing the two cars together in tandem, using feedback from both our engineers and our race drivers. The race car will be racing this year already.’

How have you managed to retain the 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10? Everyone else is giving up and going to turbos…

‘I believe an icon like the R8 needs an iconic engine, and the V10 is an iconic engine. It has more power but, of course, we have improved the efficiency too.’

Why did you discontinue the V8?

‘We evaluated it, but we felt that the V10 with two power outputs was the best solution.’

Did you consider keeping a manual gearbox?

‘We did, but we feel this is the better solution. We have refined the dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox and made it even faster.’

Will this car be as oversteery as the last Audi R8?

‘We have completely re-designed the behaviour of the car. It can send 100% of the drive to the front or back, and we’ve tried to keep the fun, but make the transition to oversteer less aggressive.’

Is the virtual cockpit the same as the Audi TT?

‘No, you can do much more, you can check the tyre temperatures, see the driving mode, the torque split… there is more performance functionality than you get in a Porsche GT3. We also have a button on the steering wheel to select between driving modes [much like Ferrari’s manettino]’

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator