What is it?
The fastest and potentially most hair-raising version of the Audi’s mid-engined supercar: this is the new R8 GT.
Ever since it scooped our Best Handling Car gong in 2007, it’s been obvious to all and sundry at Autocar how spectacular a track-focussed version of the beautifully benign Audi R8 might be. And although it’s taken three years, Audi’s finally crumbled under the pressure of requests from R8 devotees and is making one.
The R8 GT takes all the lessons that Audi’s performance specialists at Quattro GmbH have learned running the motorsport-compliant R8 LMS cup car, and manifests them in a road-legal track car based on the already brilliant R8 V10. All of which means that this thing could be one of the best sports cars of the last five years.
What’s it like?
The 552bhp, 398lb ft, 5.2-litre V10 engine in this car is just the beginning of its performance makeover. Versus a regular V10, it’s got lightweight bucket seats, polycarbonate and extra-thin glass where there used to be the regular stuff, and various carbonfibre, magnesium and lightweight aluminium body components.
The GT’s rear hatch, made of CFRP, saves 6.6kg versus the standard R8 V10. The CFRP rear bumper and sideblades represent savings of 5.2kg and 1.5kg. The fixed CFRP rear wing is good for a 1.2kg saving, and the aluminium bonnet is thinner and saves 2.6kg. A lighter braking system and battery, lighter air intakes, and the removal of the engine compartment’s sound deadening save an additional 19.5kg, and add up to a total saving of 100kg against the ‘regular’ 301bhp-per-tonne car; the GT packs 362bhp-per-tonne.
Aside from the weight reductions, the R8 GT’s lower ride height and stiffer springs and dampers bring it extra track suitability, as does Audi’s optional race package, which includes a rollover bar, four-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher and a battery kill switch.
There isn’t much added drama about the noise the R8 GT makes. Thumbing the starter button produces an idle that’s no louder than a regular R8 V10’s, perhaps in response to customers worried about circuit noise regulations.