Lighting the way
Written by Karl Peskett
With an engine from a Lamborghini and lasers for headlights, the new Audi R8 isn’t your typical supercar. But is it too smart for its own good?
Ask a series of young boys to draw you a sports car and invariably the results will be very similar: low-slung body, big wheels, and lasers for headlights. Thing is, all of those things aren’t just figments of the imagination; they’re all in production in the Audi R8.
Design-wise, the Audi R8 plays to a typical formula – wide stance, mid-mounted engine, and grippy suspension. But the headlights are the headline, as they do indeed use laser technology for the high beam. It projects an intense beam into the darkness, piercing it with super-bright light up to 500m away. Thankfully, though, it’s smart enough not to blind oncoming drivers.
And if that howling V10 sounds familiar, it’s because it’s shared with the Lamborghini Huracán, as is the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Two versions of the powertrain are available, one with 533bhp and one with 602bhp. The top-tier R8 V10 plus, as it’s called, uses its four wheels to accelerate from 0 to 100kph in 3.2 seconds. Top speed? 330kph. But it’s not just the power that helps its tremendous turn of speed.
The boffins at Audi have been able to lighten the R8, crafting its body and chassis from a combination of lightweight sections of aluminium and carbon-fibre reinforced plastics. Thus its weight is kept down to just 1,454kg, which is 50kg lighter than the model it replaces. It handles, too, with its quattro all-wheel-drive system being completely overhauled to enable the full complement of torque to be transmitted to either the front or rear axle, or to be apportioned in any ratio that conditions require.
More impressive, however, is how Audi manages to fashion a supercar that still remains usable as an everyday car. Its build quality is second to none, the leather is beautiful, the exposed carbon-fibre highlights lift the ambience, and the comfort is brilliant.
It would be all too easy for Audi to have crammed the R8 with tech and left it devoid of feeling, but the engineers have done a remarkable job in giving it a slightly raw edge, yet one where you still feel very connected. It’s a machine that is fast, deft, and removes you from the pressures of the world. Like a laser, the R8 pierces your soul and leaves a lasting impression.