Audi has released new images of its hardcore 560bhp GT version of the R8 supercar, which will go head to head with the Porsche 911 GT3 and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
Just 33 of the hot R8 GTs are headed to the UK from a planned total production run of 333, a number Audi UK is already saying is not enough.
Three years after the R8 burst onto the supercar scene, the GT version will match a more powerful V10 engine with a stiffer chassis, revised aerodynamics and weight-saving technology.
Some of the engineering ideas have been proven on Audi’s R8 LMS racer, seen at last week’s Silverstone round of the FIA GT championship.
The GT wasn’t originally planned to be part of the R8 line-up, but Audi has responded to customer demand for a more focused version of the mid-engined coupé along the lines of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
As well as being a quick road car with sufficient tractability and compliance for road use, the R8 GT will also be suitable for track days and club competition events.
Optional equipment will include a bolt-in roll cage, four-point race belts, fire extinguisher and kill switch for the battery.
At the heart of the R8 GT is a modified version of the R8 V10’s naturally aspirated, direct-injection 5.2-litre petrol engine — essentially the same unit used by the Gallardo Superleggera but with a different exhaust system.
Distinguished by unique red cylinder heads, it has been tweaked to deliver an additional 42bhp, at 560bhp. That endows the R8 GT with an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 367bhp per tonne, some 39bhp per tonne more than the 911 GT3 RS. Torque has risen by 7lb ft to 398lb ft at 6500rpm.
These heady reserves are channelled to all four wheels via a beefed-up version of Audi’s six-speed R-tronic robotised manual ’box and a viscous coupling that provides a 15 per cent front/85 per cent rear torque split as standard.
When more front-end traction is needed, the viscous coupling diverts drive forward to a maximum 30/70 split. Audi has also equipped the GT with a standard mechanical locking rear differential with 25 per cent lock-up under acceleration and 40 per cent on the overrun.
Audi claims the R8 GT will hit 62mph from a standstill in just 3.6sec — 0.3sec faster than the R8 V10 and 0.4sec inside the official time of the 911 GT3 RS.
The 199mph top speed is 2mph quicker than the R8 V10 and 6mph more than the Porsche. Weight savings of 95kg have been made with a new carbonfibre liftback, fixed rear wing, modified brake calipers, reduced engine bay sound deadening and a lighter windscreen fashioned from thinner glass.
Polycarbonate replaces the glass in both the rear window and rear liftback. However, at 1525kg the GT is still 135kg heavier than the 911 GT3 and 185kg more than the Gallardo Superleggera.
The R8’s chassis has also been reworked, with firmer springs and dampers that lower the ride height by 10mm, while the ESP has been recalibrated; 19-inch alloy wheels wear 235/35 rubber up front and 295/30s at the rear.
Externally the GT is distinguished by a front splitter, carbonfibre ‘winglets’ on the corners of the front bumper and the fixed rear wing.
Standard R8 chrome features are remade in matt grey. Inside, there are unique R8 GT instrument graphics, a newly designed shift lever, a liberal splashing of Alcantara and unique door sills.
The R8 GT is expected to be priced at around £142,000 — a hefty premium over the R8 V10 FSI’s £103,265 list price. The order book opens in the summer, and the first cars will be delivered in the spring of next year.