Thus, the standard Abt motor upgrade package for this engine comes with 600 hp at 8000 rpm. Where the stock motor has 391 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm, the Abt version boasts 406 over a broader range, from 6400 to 7000 rpm. The zero to 62 mph time drops by 0.1 second to 3.8, and top speed goes up from 196 to 202 mph. The GTR uses this as a base and gains a further 20 hp with a bespoke stainless steel exhaust system to reduce backpressure, allowing the motor to breathe more freely at high revs. The big numbers are 620 hp at 8100 rpm and 413 lb-ft from 6400 to 7000 rpm.

There's an interesting story behind the exhaust system that needs to be told. Titanium may be the flavor of the month because of its ultra-lightweight properties and a material resonance frequency that produces a deeper exhaust note. However, there's a darker side to titanium. If you do not use titanium of sufficient thickness and construct the system to the highest possible standards, the system can fail after a year or so. Because these systems cost so much, they are very expensive to replace, resulting in one very unhappy customer.

Abt experimented with a hybrid system combining stainless steel with titanium parts to get the best of both worlds. However, the cost and complexity of this didn't add up, so they decided to stick with stainless steel, which has a long track record in performance, cost and reliability.

Thus, while 40 pounds might have been saved with a titanium exhaust, the 200 pounds actually saved by the GTR over the standard V10 coupe comes from the boot lid, fenders, front and rear bumpers, door mirrors, and the tailgate being molded from carbon fiber. Makrolon is used for the rear quarter lights and vented rear engine cover glazing, removing further weight motorsport style. The front splitter and rear wing are also made from carbon, and provide around half the downforce of Abt's LMS race car. Abt would not be drawn on an exact downforce number, but said that the car was perfectly stable at its top speed.

While the doors are the factory steel structures for safety reasons, their interior trim panels are made from carbon fiber. In fact, even the steering wheel is made from carbon fiber, resulting in lower inertia you can feel when you turn the wheel.

The lightweight Recaro seats are trimmed in leather and cross-stitched Alcantara, with Alcantara on the dashboard and headliner, and lightweight carpet on the floor and rear bulkhead. The matte carbon trim on the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is a nice touch. Normally I don't like shiny carbon or wood on steering wheels because of the drastic change of surface friction and temperature when your hands move from one material to the other, but the matte carbon offers good grip and looks purposeful. Four-point race harnesses supplement the normal seatbelts, which are more convenient to use on the street. Incidentally, I went looking for GTR logos all over the car and stopped counting at 21.

The 19-inch lightweight forged alloy wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber. These wheels weigh just 18 and 22 pounds front and rear, respectively, and are specially made for the GTR. They cost a whopping €9,000 a set (about $12,000) because of the low volume. Abt worked with H&R to develop the height-adjustable coilover suspension for this car. As tested, it sits about 35mm lower than a stock R8 V10, but this can easily be altered to suit road or track work.

The lightweight rear engine cover, relative lack of soundproofing and the sports exhaust have a significant effect on the decibels reaching your ears. In this respect, I found that the stock Spyder suits my fun driving mood even better than the hardtop, but the GTR strikes a happy balance between the two.

On the airfield runway, the GTR left the line with a brief flurry of wheelspin from all four tires, followed by one long sustained blast of acceleration, punctuated by the upshifts prompted by my right fingers pulling the paddle.

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