The genes of a winner
The new Audi R8
Audi has incorporated the name and the genes of the five-time Le Mans winner, the Audi R8, into a spectacular sports car. Three years after the unveiling of the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car, the production version will be making its debut at the Paris Motor Show in the guise of the new Audi R8 mid-engined sports model. It is a fascinating driving machine and the sporty pinnacle of the Audi brand. The mid-mounted 420 bhp V8 FSI engine, quattro permanent four-wheel drive and Audi Space Frame aluminium body form the basis for truly outstanding driving dynamics. The Audi R8 will be available to order from 28 September 2006; first deliveries will be made in the first half of 2007.
As the first Audi mid-engined sports car, the R8 combines Audi's experience gained from numerous motorsport triumphs with groundbreaking design and the acknowledged technological expertise of the brand. This expertise has led to the slogan 'Vorsprung durch Technik' becoming a byword for leading-edge technology both on the race track and on the road.
Audi has recorded countless motorsport victories on race tracks all over the world. Following the rally successes of the Ingolstadt brand in the 1980s, and its triumphs on the touring car circuit, the world of long-distance motor racing was without a doubt the biggest challenge yet faced by Audi's motorsport engineers.
And they mastered this challenge in style too: the Audi R8 won the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours five times - from 2000 to 2002 and in 2004 and 2005 - and on two occasions even took the first three places.
Le Mans is without doubt the toughest challenge to the Audi Sport Team's engineers because it calls for a level of engineering going far beyond the need merely to keep all the systems focussed on a short, sharp sprint. Alongside the essential virtues of top performance and optimised driving dynamics, the key requirements in long-distance racing are endurance and reliability, allied with optimum ergonomic design.
These are genes which are eminently transferable to a road-going sports car too, and which, allied to its exciting design, make the Audi R8 truly unmistakeable.
Even at first glance, the calibre of the car is plain to see. The Audi R8 sits broad and squat on the road, the strongly accentuated rear end appearing to flex its muscles like a sprinter ready for the off.
The characteristic proportions of the vehicle are dictated by the location of the engine behind the cockpit. This layout is a typical feature of race cars. One of the most striking examples of this design - and as such one of the legitimate antecedents of the Audi R8 - was, and still is, the Auto Union Type C Grand Prix car. The central position of the engine is above all a boon to driving dynamics, as it allows for a weight distribution, as on the R8, of 44 percent to the front and 56 percent to the rear.
The car's body is highly compact in appearance. The front end and the gently curved roof arc are drawn in a sweeping line; a line which immediately marks the two-seater out as an Audi.
The side view also reveals familiar contours. The dynamic line above the wheel arches and the shoulder line interlink the front end, side and rear, imbue the doors and the transition to the side air vent with a strong presence, and even more emphatically highlight the typical Audi rounded wheel housings accommodating the big wheels.