Limited-Production Lightning: Audi R8 GT
Proving the adage that sometimes less really is more, Audi has just revealed its latest road warrior: a lighter but more powerful version of the sleek R8 5.2 FSI Quattro Coupe. Audi will build just 333 of these hyper-spec R8 GT variants at its Quattro GmbH headquarters in Neckersulm, Germany. While fully street legal, the Audi R8 GT was designed to be equally at home on a racing circuit taking on the likes of GT3 rivals from BMW and Porsche.
Audi's engineers used a variety of weight trimming techniques to pull 220 pounds out of the already aluminum-intensive standard R8 package and drop its curb weight to just 3,362 pounds. While the basic body and structure carry over, carbon fiber is now used on the R8 GT's unique front spoiler/splitter as well as the distinctive side blades and smaller outside-mirror housings. Out back, its revised and more aero-efficient tail uses this lightweight alternative for the hatch cover bumper/diffuser, and prominent spoiler. In addition to dumping pounds, those revised body bits also add more high-speed downforce without impacting drag.
Less obvious but no-less-critical elements in the R8 GT mass-minimizing mix are things like the use of thinner windshield glass and polycarbonate for the back light and bulkhead that separates the passenger and engine compartments. Drilling down even deeper, Audi's relentlessly charging lightening brigade worked similar wonders in the realm of mechanical components -- from the battery and carbon-ceramic brakes/calipers to the air intake module, which collectively netted an additional 55-pound cut. They jettisoned nearly 24 more out of the carpeting and insulation around the engine compartment and as almost 70 from the R8 GT's racing-style carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) bucket seats.
Despite its overt performance persona, the interior of the R8GT is hardly Spartan. Complementing the carbon fiber/aluminum/Alcantara trim, matte-for-chrome accent bits and "R8 GT" logoed floor mats are a navigation system, automatic climate control, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and a numbered ID badge, while full-leather upholstery and cruise control are optional. For the more competitive, the Audi R8 GT offers a bolt-in roll cage, full racing belts, and an on-board fire extinguisher.
Stoking the Need for Speed
To add a bit more muscle to its naturally-aspirated/mid-ship mounted 5.2-liter FSI V10, Audi reprogrammed the engine's electronic controls to bump output from 525 to 560 horsepower and raise torque from 391 to 398 lb.-ft. Teamed with a stouter version of Audi's six-speed/paddle-shifted R Tronic automated-manual transmission, that extra punch rockets the even-lighter R8 GT from 0-60 mph in a scintillating 3.6 seconds using the Launch Control system -- and on to a top speed of 199 mph.
To amp up its corner-carving prowess, the Audi R8 GT matches its Quattro all-wheel drive system and slightly stiffer structure with a specially-tuned driver-adjustable suspension that brings tauter elements and a lower ride height plus revised camber settings for quicker dynamic response. The standard wheel/tire combo brings 235/35 front and 295/30 rear performance tires on staggered-width 19-inch alloy wheels, although even stickier rubber and wider 305/30 rear tires are available for the more demanding enthusiasts.
Audi is offering the new R8 GT in four colors: Samoa Orange metallic, Suzuka Gray metallic, Ice Silver metallic and Phantom Black pearl effect. While there's still no final word on U.S. numbers for this high-velocity Audi -- in terms of price, quantity or on-sale date -- the car does sticker for €193,000 (about $255,000) in Germany.