The new brakes are encased in a set of SDS LXR alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber initially derived from a Porsche application. Final assembly occurred back in Auburn, where the exhaust was also fitted, the prototype aerodynamics were attached and the ECU reflashed with two of three planned performance programs. The stunning custom paint was applied up the road in Oxford, Alabama, by Hughes Paint and Body. Aero enhancements include a brushed aluminum front splitter attached to the front bumper and a rear spoiler which ever so slightly exaggerates the speed-actuated factory unit. There's also an intake upgrade applied to the car's signature 'sideblades' which serves to both enhance the R8's aggressive lines as well as allow more air into the engine bay. The intake inlet size and respective cross-sectional areas were increased while the induction points were flared and angled outward for increased air uptake at speed.

Exhaust development was a particular sticking point. While the 4.2-liter FSI V8 sounds inherently great (as heard initially on the V8 RS4), the R8's exhaust wail-even under spirited driving-is surprisingly muted. This refined aural delivery is typically Audi and completely satisfactory for the average owner, but perhaps a tad more reserved than some potential buyers would prefer. To make it more convincing and endow the car with a truly exotic exhaust note, nearly as much focus went into sound shaping as improving flow characteristics. The resulting product is aimed at producing a compelling combination of both: better breathing and a more aggressive note at higher engine speeds-with the APR exhaust's integrated flappers for variable volume control and a more insistent roar past 3500 rpm. The overall sound is only slightly louder in terms of measured decibels, but the soundtrack is delivered with a harder edge, reminiscent of a screaming high-compression V8 from F1 days past. The exhaust terminates in a pair of unique tips formed to fit through the factory openings.

Software development is about 80 percent finished, with 91- and 93-octane performance programs complete at the time of writing. As we might have predicted, the factory maps are well optimized and there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to increasing power. APR programmers claim to have refined the power curves and improved fuel economy on the 91-octane program, while the 93-octane program offers claimed power gains of 10 to 15 hp. The final piece to the puzzle will be the high-performance 100-octane program, whose fruition is imminent. In addition to the revised power and economy curves, the software package includes optional security features like valet mode and anti-theft, plus security lockouts to keep an admiring public honest.

APR is optimistic about the overall improved output from the exhaust/software combination, speculating gains of 50 or more horsepower with all upgrades in place. Final numbers on the 100-octane program should be close to finalization by the time this story prints. Visit europeancarweb.com for updates as they occur.

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