A high-performance supercar, a road-legal vehicle that is said to have inherited the genes of the Audi R8, three-times winner of the Le Mans 24-Hours race is due to launch in 2007. The production Audi will also be called R8 and will use the general design lines of the ‘Le Mans quattro’ concept study presented in 2003. The Audi supercar will share the technical platform with the Lamborghini Gallardo, an aspect to guarantee an extreme level of performance.
Several test vehicles were spotted by spy photographers with only a minimum disguise. It is clear that te production vehicle will follow closely the overall design of the dramatic LeMans Quattro concept car which Audi had on display at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. This high-performance sports car is meant to fight in the performance segment were the TT is overpowered. It will have to steal a market share currently divided between Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini.
The new model will not wear the same name as the prototype, as LeMans was already used by Pontiac several years ago. Instead of that it will use the excellent image of the highly successful Audi racing car R8, and share the name with that. . It is expected be launched in early 2007 as a production-ready prototype.
The overall design will not change much from the dramatic LeMans Quattro concept. An easily noticeable difference is the replacement of the high-tech LED front-lights used by the concept-car with more conventional H6 and Xenon projector lights, although the outline of headlights is mainly unchanged. Minor changes were applied to the front grilles, that feature less horizontal bars, to the hood, and lower spoiler area in front. In the rear side of the car the most evident change is the replacement of the middle-mounted large dual exhausts with exocentric quad round tail-pipes, two on each side. The area for the mounting of the license plate was also subtly reshaped, and will be different in the model, allowing for a high license plate.
TopSpeed artists Audi R8 rendering
The Audi R8 will use a version of the Lamborghini Gallardo’s technical platform and will come also equip a detuned version of the Gallardo’s 5.0-litre V10, producing 450 bhp Another available power-unit will be as well the 420 bhp V8 used in the RS4. This is done in order not to produce internal competition between the R8 and the Gallardo will not be adversely affected. The prices for the R8 were not made official, but it is a clear thing that it will be a lot cheaper than the Gallardo. The starting point was rumored to be around $100,000.
The all-aluminum chassis using the Audi Space Frame technology will make the car weight only 3300 lbs making it a very fast vehicle with performance figures to challenge those of the 911 Turbo, Aston Martin AMV8.. The V10 version is likely to be able to compete against cars like the Ferrari F430 or brother Gallardo, even if Audi doesn’t have the required exotic name.
A 280 bhp, 3.6-liter V6 base version is expected for 2009 and a possible Targa version for 2010. The expected transmissions are a six-speed manual for all for all the engines, plus a six-speed DSG for the V6, and an additional seven-speed DSG for the V8 and V10 models.
There is no official word yet regarding whether or not the car will be available for the market.
The main source of inspiration for the R8 was the LeMans Quattro concept car, presented by Audi in 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.This fascinating driving machine was a synthesis of the experience gained from numerous racing triumphs, allied to advanced design and Audi’s technical competence - which has in turn become synonymous for Audi’s technological leadership on the racetrack and the road alike.
Even the first glimpse of the car gives the observer a clear picture of its calibre. The Audi Le Mans quattro, with its Jet Blue paint finish, has a wide stance and a bullish appearance on the road. Its powerful rear end seems to be bracing its muscles in order to jump, like a sprinter on the starting line. The car’s front end and the broad curve of the roof seem to have been drafted with a single stroke of the pen.
The trapezoidal shape of the Audi single-frame grille is a distinctive feature of the front end, flanked on the right and left by additional large air inlets. Their upper ends are flush with the flat-strip LED headlights, which have clear-glass covers. The centre of the bonnet curves up above the line of the front wings, which spread out at the sides over the large round wheel arches typical of an Audi.
The cockpit architecture, which is oriented consistently to the driver’s needs, dominates the car’s interior. The driving position is integrated into the space between the instrument panel with its changeover display graphics and the centre console. However, the Audi Le Mans quattro car offers generous interior space for both occupants - a quality feature that clearly distinguishes it from other high-performance sports cars. The impression of perfect functionality and ergonomics is combined with materials of visible high quality and craftsmanship.
An aluminium Audi Space Frame (ASF) forms the central structure of this concept study. The outer skin and add-on parts use a weight-saving mixed aluminium and carbon-fibre concept - thus satisfying the demand for utmost rigidity at a simultaneously low weight of 1530 kg, and providing a foundation for top road dynamics.
Double wishbone suspension is used at the front and rear. Firm basic suspension settings have been chosen to ensure the most effective road dynamics. Nevertheless, the innovative Audi ‘magnetic ride’ shock absorbers ensure a remarkably high level of ride comfort.
The Audi Le Mans Quattro is a perfect synthesis of motor-sport technology and road-going car design. An automobile with the racetrack, the motorway and twisting country roads as its ‘natural hunting
The top of the range R8 equipped with a V10 engine will bring Audi on a whole new territory and will challenge vehicle like the Ferrari F430. The thrilling news that Ferrari has won the Constructors’ World title for the sixth consecutive year and the Drivers’ World title for the fifth consecutive year, courtesy of Michael Schumacher, is still ringing in our ears. Ferrari has achieved these results thanks to its enormous, ongoing commitment to R&D, allowing continuous technological transfer from Formula 1 to road cars.
The most recent example of this transfer is the F430, unveiled for the very first time to the public here in Paris. The new F430 hails the arrival of a whole new generation of Ferrari 8-cylinder berlinettas and takes the aluminium technologies first used in the 360 Modena to a new level. It also offers a series of spectacular innovations directly derived from Ferrari’s Formula 1 single-seaters. Two of these innovations are world firsts for productions cars: the electronic differential (E-Diff) initially developed by Ferrari for its F1 single-seaters and designed to make the most of the engine’s torque to optimise traction, and the handily placed steering wheel-mounted commutator switch (better known to the Scuderia drivers as ’manettino’) which directly controls the integrated systems governing vehicle dynamics.
The F430 is powered by a completely new 4308 cc engine. The new V8 delivers a massive 490 hp and a specific power of 114 hp/l. Its performance is absolutely excellent too: 0 to 60 mph acceleration in four seconds flat and a top speed in excess of 196 mph.
Click here to read our complete Ferrari F430 review.
Porsche 911 Turbo
Another tough vehicle R8 will have to face is the Porsche 911 Turbo. The primary objective for Turbo is to challenge the limits of technical feasibility. Not only in terms of performance and dynamics, but also when it comes to ride comfort. On this latest evolution, we’ve completely redesigned a number of systems and components. The result builds on the achievements of the previous 911 Turbo – a car widely acknowledged as the ultimate in sportscar design.
As you would expect, the new 911 Turbo meets the highest expectations in terms of engine performance. The classic flat-six unit develops 353 kW (480 bhp) at 6,000 rpm from a 3.6-litre displacement. Maximum torque of 620 Nm is available between 1,950 and 5,000 rpm. To achieve that capability, Porsche has combined VarioCam Plus with twin turbocharger units featuring Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) – a totally new technology on a petrol-engined car. With a standard manual gearbox, the new 911Turbo requires just 3.9 seconds to reach 60 mph. Equipped with the latest optional Tiptronic S transmission, the car is 0.2 seconds quicker on the standard sprint. Benchmark times to 124 mph are 12.8 and 12.2 seconds, respectively. Maximum speed with either transmission is 193 mph.
Click here to read our complete Porsche 911 review.
Lamborghini Gallardo SE
It also seems that the R8 will also cannibalize the Lamborghini Gallardo elderly brother. With the purchase of Lamborghini by Audi/Volkswagen in 1998, an interesting challenge arised: adjusting the hot-blooded and temperamental machines to the Teutonic levels of quality and engineering. The result was the Italian supercar maker’s Lamborghini Gallardo. It met Audi’s mission to keep the style and attitude of V12-powered cars like Countach, Diablo and Murcielago but to make the car more usable and livable for daily use. This has been greeted with very positive reviews and strong sales, since the Gallardo’s debut in 2004.
The aluminum V10 engine has been upped slightly for 2006 and tops out at 520 hp at 8,000 rpm and 376 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. It launches the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. The gasoline consumption is estimated at a 10 mpg city / 19 mpg highway rate. The V10 features an 18-degree offset crankshaft for even firing, continuously variable valve timing, dry-sump oiling and a variable-length induction system. All the V10 power is fed to the pavement through an AWD system that can vary front-to rear, if necessary, as the suspension front and rear is a double-wishbone design. The stopping duties are handled by the Beefy Brembo brakes that have eight-piston calipers clamping things down up things.
the chassis is a mix of alloy stampings, extruded elements and castings. The exterior is composed of thermoplastic panels, except for the doors, which are made of steel and swing out, instead of upward scissor-style.
Audi’s mark is obvious inside: the stylish furnishing blend form and function, which makes Gallardo’s interior look great and comfortable to boot.
Click here to read our complete Lamborghini Gallardo review.