• Oct 2, 2006

Normally, anyone guilty of cutting up a beautiful supercar such as the Audi R8 would have us looking to perform the same treatment on the perpetrator. In this case, however, we'll let the crime go unpunished, since this peak under the skin of Ingolstadt's new Autobahn burner gives us a chance to admire it for more that just its looks.

Every prior Audi has placed the engine up front, but not the R8. Not clearly visible are the front halfshafts and differential for the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Cooling an aerodynamic high-powered mid-engine car is quite a challenge. The R8 accomplishes this via a pair of remote-mounted radiators that are nestled behind the front fascia. Additional ductwork behind the fascia creates a gently diverging shape that will slow down the airstream while increasing its pressure, thereby maximizing its ability to absorb energy from the heat exchangers.

The short-long-arm (SLA) arrangement uses a pair of forged aluminum control arms to define the kinematic path of the front suspension. The coil-over shocks use magneto-rheological (MR) fluid, which consists of soft iron particles suspended in oil. By changing the applied magnetic field, the viscosity of MR fluid can be changed from watery to nearly solid in mere milliseconds.

The brake calipers appear to be one-piece (monoblock) parts with eight pistons apiece, clamping down upon a set of four pads and a huge ventilated and cross-drilled disc of about 14" in diameter (just don't expect chrome plating on the production version). Wheel bolts are used instead of studs, in that decidedly German fashion.

The steering rack is mounted in front of the axle centerline, likely to keep it clear of the occupant's feet during collisions.

The R8's structure is based upon the Audi Space Frame (ASF) concept, which brings together aluminum and magnesium in the form of vacuum castings, extrusions, and stampings. The foundation of the R8's front half is this large casting, which ties together the firewall, A-pillar, and roof arch while also serving as a shock tower.

Affixed to this casting are extrusions that run to the crash beams located at the front of the car, as well as a large header running along the lower edge of the windshield.

Note the lovely TIG welds that are used to join the various pieces of the structure. We're not sure if this is the intention for production (being a labor-intensive process), or if robotic MIG welding with laser pre-heating will be used as is the case for higher-volume versions of Audi's ASF structures. Other components, such as the beam running along the wheel arch, appear to have been attached using self-piercing rivets.

The space frame concept continues on to the passenger compartment, surrounding the occupants in a cage of aluminum extrusions.

The clutch and brake pedals swing from the top, while the accelerator pivots from the bottom (yet another German peculiarity). Note the large beam that runs below the driver's feet to tie the bottom of the firewall structure into the door sills.

While some R8s will get the eGear automated manual transmission, this particular sample had a conventional 6-speed manual. Perched on the center tunnel is a gorgeous shifter, topped with a bezel that gives it the appearance of external gating (of course, the actual gates are internal to the the transmission itself for maximum precision and smoothness). Even the cast aluminum E-brake handle looks expensive.

Sitting behind the doors is a huge extrusion with several internal walls (the odd glare at the right of this photo was caused by the reflection from a piece of polycarbonate that capped the cutaway). Such a component should provide immense strength and stiffness.

This mid-engine configuration places the 4.2L V8 in front of the rear axle centerline, with the transmission and transfer case assembly mounted behind the motor.

Another set of forged aluminum control arms reside out back, along with a toe link. This can be used to provide toe-in upon compression, which in turn can help tame the tail-happy characteristics of mid-engine vehicles.

The rear coil-over shocks - also electronically adjustable via the wonders of MR fluid - are mounted to an extruded spar running along the upper edge of the engine bay.

Note the high-mounted anti-roll bar and its long aluminum links that connect to the aluminum knuckle.

The rear brakes get slightly smaller monoblock calipers, but the ventilated and cross-drilled discs themselves are still massive (for good reason, given the rearward weight bias). The tiny caliper at the opposite side of the disc serves as the parking brake.

A carbon-fiber airbox sits behind the engine, placing it under the backlight and in public view. Twin electronically-controlled throttle bodies are assigned with the task of feeding the large plenum and tall tunnel-ram intake manifold.

Visible here is one of the beautiful tubular headers, which appear to utilize a "tri-Y" 4-2-1 configuration. Mounted behind the header is what appears to be a scavenge pump for the dry-sump oiling system.

That engine oil is then cooled by this heat exchanger, located under the left "sideblade". Note its isolated mounting platform.

The lovely header then flow through catalytic converters before dumping into the muffler, which is located between the transmission and rear fascia. It appears to have a substantial amount of volume, which is probably required to effectively silence the high-performance V8. Also note the size of the rear bumper support.

It appears that the outer of each of the exhaust outlet pairs incorporates a vacuum-actuated bypass valve. Expect this car to announce its presense with authority at wide-open throttle.

Indeed, the R8 is every bit as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside, and we're delighted that Audi decided to expose that to the public.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "while the accelerator pivots from the bottom (yet another German peculiarity)"

      Peculiarity? Makes perfect sense if you think about it. Your foot is hinged at the ankle, not the toes. Pivoting the accelerator at the bottom makes the pedal travel more ergonomic; input more linear. In a high horsepowered car, the ability to feather and finess accelerator input is essential since the slightest input at the wrong time can upset vehicle balance. Same can be said for any car.

      Why isn't it done for all cars? Most drivers don't strive to be the best driver they can be. Just about veryone think they are the best driver ever right off the bat, if they do think about their driving at all. Since people don't care, it's cheaper to make all pedals pivot from above. Easier for mass assembly.

      • 8 Years Ago
      #3: It's called "mass production," and a lot of this car has already seen production on the Lamborghini Gallardo, including the entire drivetrain.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ben, I think you will find most of the drivetrain actualy came from the RS4! the Gallardo is a V10 ;)

      Not that it would suprise me if the V10 made it into another more expensive version of the R8, maybe the R8S?

      Accelerator pedal, most european cars hinge at the bottom btw (Lotus, All VAG group, BMW, Mercedes, and if memory serves the 206GT I drove the other day was bottom hinge as well).

      Those that say it's not sexy, JUST LOOK AT THE ENGINEERING!, that is sexy. Yes it does look a bit Uber TT, but it's not unsexy by any means in the skin.

      Personaly I cannot wait to see it on the move, if it sounds and goes half as well as it looks, or half as well as it's sister the Gallardo then Audi have a winner.

      Just my 2p
      • 8 Years Ago
      Awesome. Gotta love it!

      http://www.r8audi.com
      • 8 Years Ago
      So many seem so gung-ho over this new R8. Visually its like one of the extraterrestrials from the movie Aliens mated with the new TT coupe and behold - the ravenous R8.

      Personally, I think the Peugeot supersedan concept much more exciting - and who would have thought?

      http://www.automobilesdeluxe.blogspot.com
      • 8 Years Ago
      Link to some high-res shots?

      Although bound to have its detractors, in my humble, biased (Audi owner) opinion, the thing is beautiful!
      And as for not being able to afford it, wait for 6 years, as it is an Audi after all and depreciation will likely be its nemesis. I'm going to start saving my ducats now.

      • 8 Years Ago
      great post, good info, good pics, high res would be nice.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks amazing on the outside, and very technologically advanced on the inside. It will be a great performer for sure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Truly a work of art, a thing of beauty. The welds look almost perfect, the square tubes mesh cleanly with the spaceframe, the plumbing just the entire architecture of the chassis is breathtaking. Obviously a great deal of engineering passion went in to the design of this vehicle. So much of what makes a car a car goes on under the skin, beneath the bonnet and beyond the engine. This is truly an engineering master work, sheer beauty and strength in aluminium and steel. In a word: wunderbar!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Six-time Le Mans winner Ickx is new Audi representative Spectacular sports car with motorsport genes How close and intensive the link between production cars and motorsport is at Audi was proved by the presentation of the Audi R8 prior to the official opening of the Salon d`Automobile in Paris: factory driver Tom Kristensen and Jacky Ickx, who between them clinched a total of 13 victories in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, presented the new spectacular sports car together with Audi Chairman of the Board Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn. The launch of the brand's sporty spearhead marks Audi's revival of the Audi R8, the five-time winner of Le Mans, now, three years after the unveiling of the Le Mans quattro concept car. "The R8 is a thorough-bred sports car with the genes of a true racer. I've been able to take it out for a test drive and am impressed with its performance," said Jacky Ickx in front of a group of journalists, guests and members of the ACO board. For the six-time Le Mans winner, the Audi R8's world debut also marked the first public appearance as Audi's new representative. Before, Tom Kristensen, who beat Ickx with a track record of seven victories in the French endurance classic, had driven the Audi R10 TDI onto the stage, thus calling the first triumph of a diesel powered sports car at Le Mans roughly three months ago back to mind. Orders for the Audi R8 will be accepted from 28 September 2006, with the first deliveries being scheduled for the first half of 2007.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Since you asked, there are many hi-res shots here: http://gallery.audiworld.com/gallery/awframes/indexparisr8.html

      I think it is unfair for anybody to judge the thing without first seeing it in person and then of course driving it. All these photos and media impressions are nothing more than that - impressions. The real "rubber meets the road" when you see and drive it yourself.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There's some really cool technology in this car.

      Anyone interested in the Audi R8 should check out http://www.r8audi.com
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