We've captured more exclusive images of the Audi R8, as it nears production, which will start towards the end of the year.
The official presentation of the Le Mans quattro car will be at the Paris Motor Show, starting 30 September 2006, with the first customer cars available early to mid-2007.
Meanwhile, Audi continues its R8 test programme. Four months after we first snapped the car and almost nine months after it was confirmed for production, Audi is now testing at least five cars in different colours at different places, on the track and on public roads. The cars are still camouflaged, although only with tape around front and rear lights, third brake light and mirrors, and less camouflaged than the first prototype.
All prototypes so far had the Gallardo wheels fitted -- the R8 is based on the Gallardo -- there's now one prototype which shows the wheels the R8 will get as standard.
The concept car at the IAA / Frankfurt 2003 had a V10 with 610bhp fitted, I don't expect that we'll see this engine in the R8, because it would be too strong a competitor for the Lamborghinis.
Latest rumours indicate that the R8 will be available with two different engines, a V8 with 425bhp, as in the Audi RS4, and a V10 with approx. 480bhp -- a modified Audi S8 / Lamborghini Gallardo engine. Performance is likely to be in the region of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and to 125mph 10.8 seconds.
Audi's subsidiary quattro GmbH will build it using lightweight components at its Neckarslum plant. Audi is relying on intelligent lightweight design for its R8, a core area of expertise at the plant; the Audi A2, A6 and A8 were all developed there using lightweight design technology.
Words and pictures by Sebastian Geisler