No longer are 0-60 times or top speeds the measure of a sports car. No, it seems in this day and age, any sports coupe truly worth its salt has a limited-edition monster that further pushes the perfomance envelope. Cars affixed with names like Scuderia, Superleggera, GT3 RS, and ACR-X are evidence of today's demand for no-nonsense road monsters, sacrificing comfort and practicality for purpose and sheer speed. Audi’s R8 was billed as an everyday supercar when it was released and the addition of a V-10 in the latest example hasn’t done anything to change that impression. But such a reputation is a double edged sword, with some dismissing the mid-engined Audi as too soft, or without soul.
Fewer people will be saying that about the 2011 Audi R8 GT, but mind you, this is still no anorexic skin-and-Kate Moss. Consider that Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is retained, as is the stereo and climate control system. There are no Spartan nylon door pulls or bare aluminum floor panels to be found and the R8 GT retains the majority of its sound insulation. For the most part, the R8 GT’s diet consists of lighter materials – no easy task when the standard car already boasts an aluminum space frame and magnesium chassis.
Still, engineers set to work using thinner glass for the windscreen and polycarbonate for the rear window and engine cover, saving 20 pounds. The R8 GT’s sheetmetal is of a lighter gauge and cutouts were made to the aluminum luggage hatch, while the rear hatch itself was remolded in carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, along with the car’s trademark sideblades and rear bumper – another 35 pounds lost. Weight was also removed from the power brake system, battery, air intake module, engine compartment insulation, and exhaust system. Inside, glass-reinforced plastic helps lighten the seats (69 pounds saved), while the carpet was also made slightly thinner and lighter for an additional 17 pounds. Combined with other weight-saving measures, a hair over 220 pounds was shaved off the R8 V10, bringing total curb weight down to 3362 pounds.
The next step in building the ultimate road-going R8 is to bring in more power. Displacement remains at 5.2-liters, but the R8 GT’s Lamborghini-derived V-10 engine now pumps out 560 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque (up from 525 horses and 391 pound-feet). Combine those figures with the R8 GT’s reduced mass, and you end up with a power-to-weight ratio of six pounds to every horsepower. Audi will only offer its R tronic single-clutch six-speed sequential gearbox (itself a derivative of Lamborghini’s e-gear system), but performance won’t suffer. Audi says the R8 GT hits the 62 mph mark in just 3.6 seconds, the 124 mph mark in 10.8 seconds, and rockets on to a top speed of nearly 199 mph.