With an all-new Audi R8 on sale next year, the brand wanted its first supercar to go out with a bang - and the Audi R8 LMX is that swansong. It’s the fastest production R8 ever (with another 20bhp from the 5.2-litre V10 for a total of 562bhp) and only 99 examples will be built - but it has another trick up its sleeve beyond immense power and exclusivity.
The LMX was designed to be the first production car in the world to use laser headlight technology, beating the BMW i8 to the punch. But it was BMW that responded quicker, and in the week before the Le Mans 24h race it delivered eight i8s to customers in Munich. Bragging rights aside, though, the R8 LMX is still an incredible piece of kit.
Based on the R8 V10 Plus, it’s probably best thought of as an R8 V10 Plus Plus, with a top speed of 199mph and the power spinning through a seven-speed dual clutch. A fixed carbon-fibre rear wing and front splitter are designed to boost downforce, while quattro all-wheel drive and standard carbon-ceramic brakes, provide all the grip and stopping power you could realistically need. It’s also beautifully trimmed inside, with diamond-quilted stitching not just on the wing-back carbon-fibre seats, but also on the Alcantara roof.
While other cars capable of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds can feel terrifying, the R8 LMX is ridiculously easy to drive fast. With no turbos or superchargers in sight, power delivery is perfectly linear, all the way up to the screaming 8000rpm peak. The engine has a dual character, too, ranging from surprisingly quiet to seriously loud, depending on whether you’re in the standard or Sport mode. The noise builds beautifully, changing from a low growl at low to mid revs, to a high-rev howl and then a barrel-chested bellow in the stretch to the redline.
Sport quickens up shifts from the dual-clutch transmission, too, which can be jerky at lower speeds, but when it’s driven quickly, it all comes together seamlessly reminding us why we love the R8 so much. Thanks to the stratospheric grip levels, anybody can drive this car quickly because it won’t bite you like a Ferrari 458 when over step the limits. The only genuine shortcoming is a steering ratio that feels too slow for the crispness of the chassis.
The headlights use a combination of LEDs for the high and low beams, but have an additional Laser Light contributing to the high beam. You can manually choose high or low beam with a conventional flick on a lever to the left of the steering wheel, but to preload the R8 for the Laser Lights, you need to give it a soft pull to start the automatic setting. It then relies on a camera in front of the rear-view mirror to assess oncoming traffic and whether it’s safe to fire up the high beam and then, on top of that, whether it’s safe to arm the lasers.
While the LED beams give an enormous spread of clear, white light way out into the trees, the Laser Lights fire two cannons of light out into the distance, stretching to 600m in front of the car. And it doesn’t take the R8 LMX very long to cover 600m, which is one of the reasons why they introduced it on this car.