Audi's critically acclaimed R8 sports car gets an upgrade for the 2010 model year, with the addition of a second optional engine to the lineup. The R8, which is largely based on the Lamborghini Gallardo supercar, gains an optional V10 engine next year that will make the R8 all the more desirable to those with the money for one. You can debate just how finite a number of people that is in today's economy, but if this car doesn't bring a smile to your face, you're not quite alive: The 5.2 FSI offers a bit more of everything over the regular R8. While the normal R8 "makes do" with a 4.2L, direct-injected V8 making 420 horsepower, the 5.2 FSI utilizes a 5.2L V10. This race-bred 90° V10, which shares most of it's components with the engine from the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4, is packed with technical features more akin to a race car. For instance, the motor utilizes a "dry sump" lubrication system, which provides better oil distribution under high loads, as well as a lower center of gravity thanks to flexible packaging options. It also uses direct injection, like most all of today's Audi's, for better knock resistance and more precise fueling - which allows the absurdly high compression ration of 12.5:1. Don't run 87 in this sucker. Of course, both intake and exhaust valves (driven by chains as God intended) are variable, through a 42° range according to Audi. And yes, only Audi would get specific enough in their press releases to note the amount of variance in their VVT system. For comparison, most VTec-equipped Honda engines only have 20-something degrees of variance. All this technology adds up to impressive performance. The 5.2L FSI engine develops a maximum of 525 horsepower at a peak of 8,000rpm, and 391 ft-lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm, and the engine runs out of breath at a mind-numbing 8700 rpms. I would be willing to wager the R8 5.2 sounds quite good slipping through a tunnel at 8700rpm... Still, tunnel or not, this thing sounds nasty with a capital N. Take a listen:
But I digress. As you'd expect, the R8 5.2 FSI is exceedingly rapid. With only 3,571lbs to push around, those 525 horsepower push the R8 V10 to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, and 200 km/h in 12 seconds - which seem like rather conservative estimates to me, considering multiple publications have timed the 4.2L R8 at under 4 seconds to 60 miles an hour before. Flat out, the R8 V10 can do 196 miles an hour (316km/h) - which seems sufficient, but one would think Audi would've gone after their first 200mph production car with this one. Still, no less impressive.
The R8 5.2 FSI Quattro is available with two transmissions - the standard (gated!) 6-speed manual, or an "R-Tronic" six speed sequential. This is not the same as the VW Corporate "DSG" twin-clutch gearbox, but instead is based on Lamborghini's excellent E-Gear sequential unit. The 5.2 FSI will come with launch control with either transmission option.
Despite the bigger engine, the V10 R8 should still be quite a handler. Suspension duties are taken care of by aluminum double-wishbones front and rear, and Audi's excellent magnetorheological dampers are used as well. Weight distribution is an entirely reasonable 44% Front/56% rear for neutral handling characteristics.
The standard wheels are lightweight forged 19" alloys, holding 235/35/ZR19's front and 295/30/ZR19 rear. The standard brakes are more than up to the task; cross-drilled and ventilated all around, the massive 15" front discs and 14" rear discs are clamped on by 8 piston and 4 piston calipers, respectively. Optional is Audi's carbon-ceramic composite brake system. These brakes are approximately 5 lbs lighter per corner, reducing unsprung weight - which, if you're an engineer, you'll realize is the most important place to reduce said weight.
Exterior differences are minimal - the R8 was already a beautiful, aggressively styled car, so the restraint shown with the V10 model is refreshing. A more open front valence, the aforementioned 19" alloy wheels, and mildly revised side skirts and rear bumper cooling outlets differentiate the 5.2 FSI from it's V8 cousin. The V10 also has the world's first all-LED headlights: running lights, low beams and high beams give the R8 an extremely aggressive look when approaching in the rear-view mirror.
The interior is largely unchanged from the basic R8, but that's no bad thing - the R8 has one of the best interiors in the business, bar none. Leather, aluminum and carbon fibre combine to make a modern, well-appointed driving space that anyone can enjoy.
This special R8 will begin sales in Q2 2009 in Germany, at a base price of €142,400. US and UK pricing have yet to be announced; don't expect it to be cheap with the way exchange rates have been going lately.
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