MTM’s carbon-fiber side skirt extensions are modeled after the ones on the Audi R8 V12 TDI concept car. They visually flesh out the car’s flanks, helping the aerodynamics by extending the flat bottom effect and reducing air spillage.
“Our wind tunnel testing confirmed that with the rear wing in its neutral position for top speed at Nardo, we have a good balance with nearly no lift at both ends,” Roland explained.
“In actual fact, you don’t need much downforce at Nardo as no corners are involved, and the banking generates centrifugal force that pushes the car down anyway,” he continued. “We also set the suspension up like a race car, with slight reflex camber to improve braking and turn-in.”
Up until now, every aftermarket tuner who has extracted more power from the R8 V10 has either strapped on a supercharger or a pair of turbochargers. MTM has broken the mold by doing a complete engine transplant instead, substituting the Lamborghini V10 for the V10 biturbo motor from the RS6.
Using 2.15 bar of boost, the MTM-tuned RS6 engine produces 777 hp at 6900 rpm and 655 lb-ft of torque from 2750 to 6280 rpm. Thanks to the R8’s packaging with more space for a larger intake and intercooler systems, this is around 30 hp more than the same engine makes in their RS6 Clubsport.
“When we started the project in 2009, I weighed up the cost and time of doing all this work versus using the RS6 engine, which fits straight in,” Roland explained.
“The engines on which these two Audi V10 motors are based are quite different. The 5.0-liter Audi V10 motor was designed to be turbocharged from day one, whereas the 5.2-liter V10 that the R8 shares with the Lamborghini Gallardo was not.
“Thus, if you start with the R8 V10 motor, you have to strip it down and change the pistons and rods, strengthen the crank and so on,” he continued. “You end up with an expensively modified engine to which you then have to strap bespoke hardware like the new intake system, plenums, turbochargers, manifolds, intercoolers, larger injectors and so on, and finally remap the ECU and CAN-BUS system to suit.
“In addition, owners in Germany tend to drive flat out on the autobahn, and we know that the RS6 engine is bulletproof in that respect,” he continued. “We could never give that kind of warranty with a turbocharged Lambo-based engine. Also, our RS6 motor already has full EU emissions approval.”
The bespoke stainless steel MTM exhaust has two high-flow 200-cell catalytic converters built into the silencer. Since the turbochargers help to muffle the sound, this silencer is smaller than the stock R8 V10 unit and so it radiates less heat into the engine bay.
The factory six-speed Graziano gearbox is stripped and its ratios changed to make overall gearing about 30 percent taller to match the enhanced power, and the fact that the RS6 V10 motor is a lower revving unit than the Lamborghini one.
While apart, the gearbox was also finished to F1 standards, with shot-peened internals ensuring there will not be any issues with the massive output of the MTM-modified engine. The driveshafts are stock, and Roland says he has never had any problems with Audi 4WD components in 20 years of tuning these cars.
While the paddle-shift operated R tronic is a nice idea on paper, like the Lamborghini equivalent that shares the same Magneti Marelli clutchless manual transmission, its execution is so 20th century. But as a manual, with that gorgeous gear lever gaiter, this R8 is a car that you have to consciously drive to get the best out of, and is all the more rewarding for it.
To handle the massive power boost, the factory suspension was replaced by KW coilover suspension made to MTM’s specification. These use smaller diameter coil springs than usual, allowing MTM to pair their 9x20-inch front Bimoto-style forged alloy wheels with 12.5x20-inch rears, rather than the 11x20 size they normally use on the R8.