New Car: 2011 Audi R8 GT

The Audi R8 solidified its supercar status when it received a version of the 5.2-liter V-10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. While the R8’s V-10 is nearly identical, it is slightly less powerful, and it seemed reasonable that corporate politics might prevent the R8 from ever matching the horsepower figure of the Lambo. Now that this limited-edition R8 GT is granted the same 552-hp output as the little Lambo, the raging bull might very well be huffing, snorting, and ping-ponging off its pen walls in a fit of rage. To add insult to injury, the LP560’s weight advantage over the V-10 R8—3507 pounds versus 3755, according to our scales—crumbles, as the R8 GT drops an estimated 220 pounds. Ruh-roh, we smell a family feud in the works.

Limited to just 333 units, the R8 GT receives a lengthy list of modifications over the standard V-10 car. The aforementioned power upgrade—27 additional hp and 7 bonus lb-ft of torque, for a total of 398—comes from revised engine electronics. (Considering that the R8’s previous tuning was a revision of the Gallardo’s electronics, this perhaps counts as a “de-revision.”) Complementing the powertrain enhancements is a specially tuned ESP system that Audi says allows for “spectacular, but safe” oversteer when in Sport mode. We like the sound of that. Red accents on the engine recall that other, non-Lambo Italian supercar maker. The only transmission is Audi’s single-clutch R tronic automated manual.

When it came to trimming those 220 pounds from the R8, Audi’s engineers, like Lamborghini’s Gallardo Superleggera crew, relied heavily on carbon fiber and polycarbonate. Most noticeable is the new carbon-fiber rear wing. The fixed, matte-finish wing attaches to a rear hatch also made from carbon fiber, instead of the regular R8’s aluminum. The lightweight weave also is used for the rear bumper, with its unique vertical vents aft of the wheels; a large rear diffuser; and a double-lipped front splitter. Further weight reduction comes from replacing the glass in the bulkhead window and engine-compartment cover with polycarbonate. The rest of the weight slips off thanks to a thinner windshield, less sound insulation, a lighter exhaust, lightweight carpet, and a set of fiberglass seat frames.

Audi says the performance upshot of all these mods is a 0-to-62-mph run of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph, but that sprint claim is predictably conservative. We’ve clocked a 5.2-liter R8 with R tronic to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds, and that’s without the weight savings and additional power. As equipped with the GT package, expect this Audi to be more on pace with the LP560-4, at around 3.2 seconds to 60.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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