Gaining an edgier appearance and offering even higher levels of performance and efficiency, the 2013 Audi R8 lineup storms into the next model year even better prepared to uphold its honor in the ongoing supercar wars. In addition to tweaking the existing Coupe and Spyder variants, Audi also is introducing a new, range-topping R8 V10 Plus model. While the new R8 range will make its formal debut sometime later this year, Audi has offered an early look at what we can expect -- although for now, all of the information applies to Euro-spec versions of this aluminum-intensive sports machine which will go on sale there late in 2012.

All 2013 Audi R8s sport a more aggressive take on the existing front end. Highlighting the changes are a reshaped grille rendered in gloss black on V8 models and accented with chrome on V10s set off by new air intake inserts in the re-contoured bumper. LED headlamps with integrated static turning lights also become standard across the lineup. Out back the R8 clan gets revised LED rear lamps that incorporate dynamic indicator lights that sequentially point towards the intended direction of travel when the turn signal is activated plus a subtly recast fascia with a repositioned diffuser that houses upsized bright oval exhaust tips and a new-look "R" badge.

The R8's 430-horsepower/4.2-liter V8 and 525-horsepower/5.2-liter V10 base engines carry over unchanged, as does its 6-speed manual transmission and finely-honed Quattro all-wheel-drive system. However the existing 6-speed R-tronic automated manual has given way to a proper dual-clutch automatic -- Audi's excellent 7-speed S-tronic -- which is optional in the R8 V8 and standard in the V10. In addition to trimming 0.3 seconds off of the R-tronic's 0-60 mph times in all versions of the R8, the extra cog in the S-tronic also helps improve fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions in both engines.

Those seeking to experience the ultimate form of this Teutonic road rocket will be able to step up to the new 2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus. Available only in Coupe form, it matches an extra measure of power with additional cosmetic and functional upgrades. The key enhancement in the V10 Plus comes in the form of a 550-horsepower version of the V10 engine. Backed by the new S-tronic, it sends the V10 Plus streaking from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds -- 0.1 tick quicker than a baseline V10 Coupe -- and bumps its comparative top speed from 195 to 197 mph. However, the V10 Plus model also benefits from a comprehensive retune of its standard Magnetic Ride Adaptive Damping suspension system and comes with carbon-ceramic brakes, lighter-weight alloy wheels and a carbon fiber front splitter and rear diffuser. In addition to offering a matte-finish paint option, the R8 V10 loses some sound deadener and adds a pair of lightweight sport buckets as well as various carbon fiber trim bit and extra-large black-finish exhaust outlets.

While we've been told that the new Audi R8 line will arrive in showrooms here sometime early next year with all of the new cosmetics intact and carrying a 2013 model designation, there's still no word on how the revisions will impact pricing or EPA numbers for this market. The status of a U.S.-spec Audi R8 V10 Plus also has yet to be finalized, although it's virtually certain this successor to the limited-build R8 GT also will be heading to our shores.


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