Detroit 2009: Audi R8 V10 and Sportback Concept

It’s all lights and grilles over at the Audi display this year.

Let me first state the obvious: The R8 V10 is gorgeous. It’s just as gorgeous as the V-8. I personally don’t think it needed another 105 hp. But having just driven a 551-hp Lamborghini Gallardo (which shares the R8’s platform), I’m sure the Audi can handle it. And the Sportback Concept is gorgeous. It previews the forthcoming Audi A7.

Okay, now that you know that (and you can get further details in our NAIAS coverage of the two cars), let’s look at a few details.

The Sportback Concept shows the first modification of the Audi’s now-famous shield grille. The top corners are no longer single-apex corners, but are rounded into two sections, rendering the grille now six-sided. Have a look at the photo if this makes no sense to you. It’s a subtle change, but you can expect the element to appear in future evolutions of Audi’s design language.

The Sportback’s tail is vaguely BMW X6-ish, but that’s not a bad thing. (I’m not saying that the X6 isn’t awkward–but it’s the vehicle’s height, not its design, that makes it so.) The taillights remind me of the A5 in shape, but feature another element that we’ve seen recently in BMWs (the 7-series, in particular) — lighted tubular elements. The turn signals illuminate progressively, too.;

The Sportback concept highlights the fact that we need to come up with a name for these low-roofed sedans. First the Mercedes CLS, then the VW Passat CC, the Jag XF, the Aston Martin Rapide. Oh, and that Porsche Panamera thing with the big, bulged butt.

And now on to the R8. There are currently no plans to bring it to the U.S. in the first place (so I’ve heard), but buyers who spring for the extra dough elsewhere in the world will get LED headlights. It wouldn’t surprise me if the V-10 model cost 50% more, so upwards of $50,000. Um, couldn’t they at least get some big garish spoiler or something, too?