This is the Audi R8 GT, a lighter, more powerful (and thus faster) version of Ingolstadt’s finest supercar. Think of the GT as a Superleggera version of the R8, a car to take on the likes of the GT3 RS, M3 GTS, and of course, the real Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
So is the Audi R8 GT essentially a German version of the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera?
Yes, the R8 GT’s biggest rival is perhaps the lighter, more powerful (and thus faster) version of the Gallardo. Audi might own Lamborghini, but as if it wasn’t enough to launch a V8-powered supercar based on the Gallardo, it then launched a V10 version – albeit in detuned form with 518bhp and 391lb ft. And now we have the R8 GT, with exactly the same engine as the base Gallardo.
Differences? The Superleggera squeezes an extra 10bhp from its 5.2-litre V10; the R8 GT boasts the same 552bhp @ 8000rpm and 398lb ft @ 6500rpm as the standard little Lambo. The Audi is the porkiest of the pair too, tipping the scales at 1525kg, 95 kilos more than the Italian. Result? 3.4 versus 3.6 seconds to 62mph in Lambo’s favour, a split which will keep the marketing teams happy on paper, but one that won’t be translated into the real world.
1525kg isn’t bad for a V10-engined supercar with four-wheel drive…
You’re right, and thanks to new manual seats (which alone save 31.5kg), carbon body panels, thinner glass, a thinner exhaust, a magnesium engine subframe, and shaved carpets, this GT is 100kg lighter than its R8 V10 brethren.
Other GT-specific additions include a carbon rear wing, carbon winglets on the nose, two very big tailpipes, and bespoke 19-inch wheels. And if you’ve got £6500 then you can have the Race Package, which adds a roll bar, four-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher, and battery cut-out switches.
So what is the R8 GT like?
Better than ever. It looks great for a start, the jutting wing helping to balance the slightly odd proportions. And inside, there’s still sat-nav and air-con so the GT remains a useable everyday car, the only downside being that reaching for them was made rather hard by our car’s Race Pack harnesses.
We like the Alcantara steering wheel too, and speaking of wheels, the carbon ceramic brakes that nestle behind spindly alloys have incredible stopping power and – listen and learn, Lambo – are easy to modulate, even when cold.
And without the complications of a Drive Select system, constantly trying to juggle suspension, steering, throttle and gearbox settings, the R8 GT remains as sweet as ever. It might be four-wheel drive, but typically only 15% of the drive is sent to the front wheels, the rest being directed in the right direction – usable and exploitable, safe and secure, it’s Quattro shown at its best.
Then there’s the engine, deep and full-bodied at low revs, and shrieking above 5000rpm, hurling the R8 GT forward. It’s not much louder than the standard car, but then it doesn’t need to be. If only it was mated to a manual gearbox – the R-tronic ‘box is all that’s available, and although it doesn’t ruin the GT, the opportunity to shifts gears yourself would make it better.
Overall the R8 isn’t noticeably different to a regular V10, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s still friendly and exploitable, but now keener to stop, go and steer thanks to the diet, and more precise through the corners thanks to revised suspension.
It’s an R8 improved in every way, subtlety better and a real fly in Lamborghini’s ointment.
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