The Audi R8 has proved to be a huge success for the German manufacturer and replacing it is no mean feat. The new model is beginning to take shape after our spies spotted a heavily disguised prototype testing at the infamous Nurburgring in Germany for the first time.
The only real change the R8 has seen since it first launched in 2006 was a facelift last year. The second-generation model will be getting a comprehensive overhaul, both inside and out. Although every panel is hidden from view, the spy shots reveal an instantly recognisable R8 profile and features such as the trademark sideblades staying put.
At the front there’s a more menacing front bumper with gaping air vents and redesigned grille which will feature on future RS cars. The flanks appear to feature more sculpted panels, while the most noticeable addition can be seen at the rear, with an aero-optimised rear diffuser nestling below the bumper. A new exhaust system with squared-off tailpipes can also be seen, which sits flush with the reshaped rear end.
Audi isn’t expected to follow rival manufactures such as Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren down the hybrid supercar route, however. Instead, the R8 will be fitted with a revised version of the current V8 and V10, with power hikes of around 25bhp for both, taking them to 450bhp and 570bhp respectively. For the first time on the R8, all engines will get cylinder deactivation and stop-start technology. Expect a 10 per cent improvement in fuel economy.
Audi will use lessons learned from its R8 LMS racer, adding a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet and roof to save weight, while a version of the downforce-generating double diffuser used on the LMP1 Le Mans winner is expected, too. The car will also draw on the R8 e-tron – adopting its Multimaterial Spaceframe body, which uses 23 per cent carbon fibre in its construction to save 23kg.
Also likely to be included are the e-tron’s glass fibre-reinforced polymer suspension springs, CFRP anti-roll bars, ceramic brakes and titanium rear wheel hubs. All this will help keep the weight below 1,500kg.
However, carbon fibre isn't just for body panel and interior trim; it will form 23 per cent of the R8's chassis, resulting in a stiffer body. Groundbreaking suspension will see glass fibre-reinforced polymer coils save weight without compromising performance.
If you thought suspension springs had to be made of metal, think again. Groundbreaking glass fibre-reinforced polymer coils help save weight without compromising performance.
The interior will benefit from a thorough overhaul, with most functions incorporated into a new MMI system. Digital dials are also likely, as is a digital rear-view mirror that uses a hi-res camera to produce an image on a screen.
The new R8 V8 is expected to cost from just under £100,000 when it arrives next year.