Ingolstadt's not about to let McLaren outshine its halo supercar.
Audi carved out a good little niche for itself when it released the first R8 in 2006, and again when it rolled out the second in 2015 – positioning it just below more expensive and exotic machinery, but with that same mid-engined shape and the performance you'd expect from it. But in the years since, it's been beset by competition like the McLaren 570S, Mercedes-AMG GT, and Acura NSX. So to keep its halo model at the top of its game, Audi's updated the R8 with a series of enhancements – starting with revised sheetmetal.
Previewed by the latest R8 LMS GT3 racer revealed in Paris, the road-going R8 now wears a wider, flatter single-frame grille, flanked by reshaped air intakes, capped by slits in between the grille and the hood, and underlined by a new front splitter. The rear diffuser and engine lid have been reshaped as well, and there's three new exterior styling packages to choose from, too.
But there's more going on underneath the revised bodywork. Full specifications have yet to be released, but Audi promises more power from both versions of the 5.2-liter V10 engine, as well as a gasoline particulate filter to make them run cleaner.
The suspension's also been recalibrated for “even more stability and precision,” as have both the standard electromechanical and optional dynamic steering racks. And the brakes have been upgraded for more stopping power: one of the few metrics Audi's disclosed for the refreshed R8 is the braking performance. With enhanced electronics, the top model takes nearly 5 fewer feet to come to a standstill from 62 miles per hour, and 16.4 feet less from 124 mph.
That, we take it, is with the ceramic brakes that are optional over the standard steel discs, fitted inside a new set of 19-inch (or optional 20-inch milled) alloys.
There'll be a slew of new paint and trim options as well when the new R8 goes on sale in both coupe and convertible Spyder forms early in the new year. It'll reach German dealers first before hitting other European markets, and eventually (we hope) the US market as well. By then we should have more details, including how much Audi will charge for the machine. As it stands, the current R8 starts at $138,700, but we'd expect a slight price bump when the revised model goes on sale.