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Audi R8 GT

Stripped-out supercar ups the ante again

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THE fact that, even at £142,000, the R8 GT’s limited run has sold out tells you everything you need to know about the supercar’s desirability. It’s certainly a dream drive, with searing performance, stunning handling and dramatic looks. It might not have the vital dose of charisma of, say, Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS, but the GT’s blend of performance and usability makes it an alluring machine.

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The ultimate R8 has finally arrived. After repeated demands from Audi enthusiasts for a lighter and more powerful flagship supercar, engineering experts at the manufacturer’s performance arm Quattro GmbH have at last delivered it – and it’s called the R8 GT.

Packing featherweight bucket seats, a wafer-thin front screen and polycarbonate rear, carbon fibre bodykit, magnesium and aluminium parts, plus a 552bhp version of the 5.2-litre V10, the GT could be one of the most impressive sports cars ever. But is it better than the Porsche 911 GT3 RS? And can it justify its £142,585 asking price?

Well, there has certainly been no stone left unturned in its development. Specialists at Quattro GmbH have taken the lessons learned from the mighty R8 LMS racing car and applied them to a roadgoing version.

In addition to the use of that less weighty glass, sound deadening has been removed, the braking system is lighter and so is the battery. This strict diet means the car tips the scales at 100kg less than the standard R8 V10.

The weight loss is complemented by an even firmer suspension set-up, while there’s the option of a Race Package, too. Designed for track enthusiasts, this includes a rollover bar, four-point harnesses, fire extinguisher and a battery kill switch as well.

The uprated V10 sounds even angrier than in the standard car, and the GT is much quicker, particularly at high revs. It posts a 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 199mph.

It’s a shame the Audi is available only with the manufacturer’s automated manual R Tronic paddleshift gearbox; the six-speed, open-gaited manual would have offered even more involvement and drama. Nevertheless, turn the flagship into a corner at high speed and the extra grip, feel and precision you get is remarkable. With 85 per cent of the power sent to the rear wheels, the R8 GT is agile yet stable. And although the ride is stiffer than standard, it is still compliant.

However, when compared to the 911 GT3 RS, even the R8 GT feels like it’s lacking. Especially when you consider that the even more exciting Porsche is nearly £40,000 less.

But that’s our only criticism; with a mere 33 examples coming to the UK, all of which have been snapped up, the R8 GT is destined to remain a rare sight. There are few supercars on the road which offer such easily accessible performance.

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