Audi will launch a hardcore 560hp GT version of the R8 supercar to go head to head with the Porsche 911 GT3 and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. Production will be limited to 333 units.
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.
The GT wasn't originally planned to be part of the R8 lineup, but Audi has responded to customer demand for a more focused version of the mid-engined coupe 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-liter 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 42hp, at 560hp. That endows the R8 GT with an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 367hp per ton, some 39hp per ton more than the 911 GT3 RS. Torque has risen by 7lb-ft to 398lb-ft at 6,500rpm.
These heady reserves are channeled to all four wheels via a beefed-up version of Audi's 6-speed R-tronic robotized manual gearbox and a viscous coupling that provides a 15 percent front/85 percent 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 percent lock-up under acceleration and 40 percent 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 209lbs have been made with a new carbon fiber 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 3.362lbs, the GT is still 300lbs heavier than the 911 GT3 and 400lbs 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, carbon fiber "winglets" on the corners of the front bumper and the fixed rear wing.
Standard R8 chrome features are remade in matt gray. Inside, there are unique R8 GT instrument graphics, a newly designed shift lever, a liberal splashing of Alcantara and unique door sills.
Pricing for a North American version of the R8 GT has not yet been announced, but in Germany the R8 GT will sell for $67,000 more than the R8 5.2 FSI, which is priced at $255,500.