What's the difference in the V-10 engines that power the top Audi and Lamborghini's crown prince? As it turns out, not much. Both share the same basic components and architecture: a 90-degree V-angle, DOHC 4-valves per cylinder top end, mostly aluminum construction. The forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons providing a 12.5:1 compression ratio are also shared by both sports cars.
According to Volkswagen AG's powertrain head Wolfgang Hatz and Audi's V-8 and V-10 chief Jurgen Jablonski, the differences are subtle and restricted to intake and exhaust details. Engine mapping-combinations of ignition timing, fuel delivery, valve timing, and operation of the muffler bypass valves-differs to give the Lamborghini engine a more urgent and aggressive personality versus the Audi's slightly steadier, more sedate characteristics. Minor differences in the shape of the intake ports and the configuration of the twin intake plenums topping each engine are also present. While exhaust headers are basically the same, the layout of the mufflers differs significantly according to the space available under each car and the auditory flavor desired by each brand.
Lamborghini chose an untamed in-your-face howl that starts early and lasts until the revs run out at 8700 rpm. Audi R8 engineers selected a deeper, less frenetic voice. Stand on the gas in the Gallardo and the V-10 overwhelms the cockpit with an Italian serenade. In the Audi, triggering the throttle hurtles you expeditiously away from a wake roiling with dust and commotion.
The stats tell the rest of the story. The Lamborghini engine tops at with 552 versus the R8's 525 horsepower at 8000 rpm. The more expensive Gallardo also tops Audi's torque with 398 lb-ft versus the R8's 391 lb-ft at 6500 rpm. While both cars are quick, R8 drivers will enjoy a clear view of a rapidly shrinking Gallardo's rear bumper when the green flag drops.
(Want more of the nitty-gritty details? Head to the next page for our full test results)