Braked by 24 pistons
The requirements that the brake system needs to meet on a sports car are very
varied: it must ultimately withstand the extreme loads of a racetrack, but also
handle stop-and-go driving in urban traffic with ease. Two fixed-caliper brakes
painted black, each with eight pistons, are fitted to the front wheels to provide the
necessary braking performance, complemented by four pistons on each wheel
brake at the rear.
There are particularly elaborate studded composite brake discs with the
impressive diameters of 380 mm at the front and 356 mm at the rear. They
comprise the friction ring and an aluminium central element connecting the
stainless steel studs. This arrangement means on the one hand that thermal
expansion of the disc when subjected to high loads does not affect the central
element. On the other hand, the use of aluminium cuts the weight of each disc by
about two kilograms. And weight-watching is always a key issue for a sports car.
Ceramic brakes with extreme reserves
For even better performance coupled with a further reduction in weight and longer
service life, there are the optional ceramic brakes. In this instance the discs are
made from carbon fibre reinforced ceramic, a material that has repeatedly proven
its worth in the aviation and aerospace sectors. The basis is very hard, frictionally
resistant silicon carbide, with its diamond-like crystalline structure. Embedded in
it are high-strength carbon fibres that absorb the stresses that occur in the material.
The intricate geometry of cooling ducts in the ventilated discs prevents extremely
high temperatures. The ceramic brake disc ring is bolted via ten sprung elements
to a stainless steel central element that acts as the connection with the wheel's hub.
The ceramic brakes are identifiable at a glance by the anthracite-coloured special
six-piston monobloc aluminium calipers and the fixed calipers at the rear. The
advantages of the ceramic brakes include a further reduction in weight of around
20 kilograms, which in this case improves the handling characteristics and
comfort response. The high abrasion resistance permits an operating life of up to
300,000 kilometres. Their trump card however is their insusceptibility to very
Even when in operation on the racetrack, for example, the ceramic brakes always
maintain their full reserve performance. The ceramic brakes are expected to
become available for the R8 from the end of 2007.
When it comes to reliability and durability, the R8 must of course satisfy the
renowned high standards of the Audi brand as effectively as any other product.
And more: they were put through the ultimate trial of several endurance runs
covering more than 10,000 kilometres on the racetrack, with DTM drivers behind
the wheel. The circuits driven included the North Loop of the Nürburg Ring,
where every single kilometre represents a multiple of the loads encountered on
Exclusivity as part of the deal
Driving a precision high-performance sports car need not involve spartan self-
deprivation. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Audi R8 combines superior
performance with both a surprising measure of everyday suitability and an
exclusive equipment specification. In a nutshell, when it comes to quality and
overall appearance, the R8 is one hundred percent an Audi.
The standard technology package is in itself already an exclusive affair: the R8 is
the only car featuring an FSI mid-engine with quattro permanent four-wheel drive
and Audi Space Frame construction. The sports car in addition comes with an
equipment package that accentuates in equal measure its sports characteristics, its
standard of comfort for long-distance driving and – naturally for an Audi – its
Exceptional build quality
Even in the basic version, the materials and surfaces are of choice quality. The
sports seats provide excellent support and can be adjusted in a wide range of ways
(power-operated, as an option). They are upholstered in fine Pearl Nappa leather
in the colours black or pale grey.
The seat centre sections are in colour-coordinated Alcantara. The precision-
stitched seams arguably do even more to reinforce the visual and tactile
impression than the material.
The upper side of the cockpit and the door panels illustrate this particularly
vividly: even the basic version, with the technical structure of its surfaces, has a
soft backing and stitched edges. The resulting finish is exquisitely elegant –
especially when compared with some competitor products.
Another example is the polished stainless steel gear lever gate of the manual
gearbox. It is one of several gleaming highlights in the interior, along with the
clips in the three-spoke steering wheel, the gear lever and the controls for the air
conditioning and audio system.
As distinctive as its owner
Every R8 can be customised to be a precise reflection of its future owner's
preferences. It all starts with the body colours, ranging from Ibis White to
Phantom Black. Those envisaging a very specific colour can order a custom paint
finish from the quattro GmbH Audi exclusive range.
The sideblades behind the doors are definitely a striking visual highlight. They are
colour-coordinated with the paintwork, or available optionally in high-gloss
Oxygen Silver. The material Carbon Sigma possesses a special sporting flair: as a
further option, the sideblades can be supplied in genuine carbon fibre with a clear-
Carbon fibre for undiluted racing flair
As a means of customisation, Carbon Sigma is also used to adorn the interior and
even the engine compartment. Though the conventional designation of engine
compartment barely does justice to this spectacle. The eight-cylinder engine is
displayed beneath a glass cover, as if in a showcase. Its recess can be lined
virtually in entirety in carbon fibre if desired. Then there are the white light-
emitting diodes to illuminate the engine compartment, in conjunction with the
coming home / leaving home function.
After all, owners of an R8 are bound to want to cast a final, admiring glance at
this jewel of a car after parking it in the garage at night.
A carbon fibre package is also available for the interior. It envelops the
monoposto, the unit comprising the displays and controls, and embellishes the
doors and centre console. If carbon fibre evokes the sheer excitement of motor
racing, the black piano finish is the elegantly sporty alternative. The all-leather
equipment specification definitely complements it in perfect style: virtually the
entire interior of the R8 is then trimmed in Fine Nappa leather, with colour-
contrasting seams if preferred. Here too, an almost inexhaustible choice of colours
and variants is available in the Audi exclusive range from quattro GmbH if the
standard versions are not quite what the customer is looking for.
The same is true of the optional bucket seats. They have been developed and
designed specially for the R8 and are yet another example of the unique blend of
uncompromising sportiness and unflinching everyday suitability. The bucket seats
envelop the upper body in particular even more resolutely than the standard sports
seats and provide perfect support even under the influence of high lateral
acceleration. But above all they can be adjusted in a great many ways, are
comfortable over long distances and above all permit an easy entry and exit, and
do not get in the way when stowing luggage behind the seats.
Expressive night-time guise
The lighting is emphatically one of the highlights of the R8. Because with such an
expressive design visible by day, it would be a shame if anyone were to miss
beholding Audi's sports car at night. The standard xenon plus headlights with a
diameter of 70 mm illuminate the road surface outstandingly well. But the
daytime running lights, which trace the contours of the main headlights with 12
light-emitting diodes, provide a truly unique accent. With the low-beam
headlights on, the LEDs are dimmed slightly but then assume the function of
sidelights, giving the R8 its unique "night-time look"
Admittedly, this high-performance sports car is much more likely to be seen from
And it is no less engaging when viewed from that angle at night, because for the
first time three-dimensional illuminated bodies have been created using LED
technology, instead of merely flat, two-dimensional lighting surfaces. The tail
lights function is performed by 40 light-emitting diodes, which are installed in
two tubular-shaped light units. The external structuring and internal optical-fibre
effects reinforce the three-dimensional impact. The light output of the LEDs was
increased for the brake lights, with a further eight diodes filling the inner surface
of the tubes. 32 yellow light-emitting diodes on the bottom edge of the tail lights
serve as indicator lights. The high-level brake light, comprising 26 LEDs, extends
over almost the entire width of the roof. Its light intensity and the extremely short
response time of the light-emitting diodes are genuinely necessary for warning
traffic following on behind, because the R8 does of course have excellent brakes.
The world's first all-LED main headlights
But the all-LED main headlights are the absolute highlight: from the end of 2007,
the R8 will be the first vehicle in the world to offer this innovative lighting
technology as standard. Not only will it give the headlights a futuristic look; it
also brings significant functional benefits: the light colour of the LED headlights
of almost 6,000 Kelvin is close to that of daylight, and therefore makes driving at
night less tiring. It differs markedly from the 4,100 Kelvin of xenon headlights or
the relatively yellowish appearance of halogen headlights, at 3,200 Kelvin. The
light quality and illumination of these lights are in no way inferior to Audi's
outstanding bi-xenon headlights.
If the technical description of these lights sounds complex, it is because these
engineering masterpieces of lighting technology are highly advanced creations.
The task of providing light is tackled in an entirely different way to conventional
headlights. A total of 22 ultra-high-performance light-emitting diodes are
arranged in seven groups of two or four, performing the various tasks of the low-
beam and high-beam headlights.
For the low-beam headlights, the light from the two groups of four LEDs is
distributed by two free-form reflectors as a source of basic lighting. In
combination with the projection system of the three groups of two LEDs, the
design resembles that of an open pine cone.
They provide the range and the asymmetry. This is achieved first by concentrating
their lumens via a primary optical device, then distributing it via a new type of
plastic lens. The high beam is operated by the two internal reflector shells each
with a group of four LEDs. In stylistic terms, the light is cast forward as if by
The daytime running lights, too, serve as a distinguishing feature of the all-LED
headlights: while they have the same contours as the standard lights, the LEDs
here form a continuous strip, whereas they appear as individual dots in the xenon
version. Simply guaranteed to grab the attention of onlookers!
The energy consumption of the Audi R8 LED headlights totals 60 watts (50 watts
for the LEDs, plus 7 watts for the actuating electronics and around 3 watts for the
fan). Xenon headlights are even more efficient at 42 watts (35 watts for the xenon
lamp and likewise 7 watts for the actuating electronics). Halogen headlights have
the highest power consumption, at 68 watts. Compared with standard xenon
headlights, the Audi R8 with LED headlights adds 0.008 litres per 100 km to the
fuel consumption, a difference that is barely relevant in practice.
What is relevant is the reduction in consumption for LED daytime running lights
compared with vehicles without daytime running lights, for daytime driving. The
LED daytime running lights in the standard headlights of the Audi R8 use
14 watts per vehicle (6 watts for the LED light output and 1 watt for the actuating
electronics, for each headlight). The lights of vehicles without daytime running
lights use the same amount day or night, namely 300 watts for halogen headlights
and 248 watts for xenon headlights. In other words, around twenty times more.
Tried-and-tested MMI operating system
Safety features such as the tyre pressure monitor and headlight cleaning system
and comfort/convenience elements such as automatic air conditioning are all
supplied as standard on the R8. An anti-theft alarm with tow-away protection is
likewise a matter of course on such an attractive car. All the essentials are
included, even down to the drinks holders.
The optional radio and navigation system, to keep drivers always on course,
comes with a DVD that covers the entire road network of Western Europe. It is
integrated into Audi's tried-and-tested MMI operating system, via which a large
range of vehicle and comfort/convenience functions can be selected. The mobile
phone preparation with Bluetooth link is available as an option.
Clear view to the rear
The optional Audi parking system advanced provides a clear view of things when
manoeuvring into a parking space – another USP in the sports car segment. It
combines ultrasonic sensor technology with a rearview camera and displays the
space behind the car on the MMI system's monitor. The camera is located above
the rear number plate.
Guidance lines are superimposed on the image on the monitor as an aid to
manoeuvring. The zone coloured blue, for instance, depicts one vehicle's length to
the rear, and orange lines mark the car's course at its current steering angle.
New standard of music pleasure
The R8 is already equipped with a high-quality sound system as standard, with
seven speakers and a five-channel amplifier with an audio output of 140 watts.
The radio unit incorporates two VHF tuners with diversity aerial for constantly
optimum reception, an MP3-enabled CD player and two sockets for MMC/SD
The quality standard of Audi's sound systems is reflected by the fact that the
company has teamed up with the Danish high-end specialist Bang & Olufsen,
which has created an optional system for the R8 that pioneers unprecedented
standards of music enjoyment in a sports car. Twelve sound sources, surround
sound and the very high audio output of 465 watts for a small interior
compartment provide just an inkling – but barely more than that – of the
experience that awaits the occupants.
The interior of a sports car presents a particular challenge to the sound designer
because of so little space being available. This makes it a real challenge to
integrate the 12 speakers to good effect. The doors accommodate the 200 mm
woofers and also the 80 mm mid-range speakers, which are complemented by the
25 mm tweeters in the mirror triangles and the surround speakers on the upper
side of the cockpit. Additional 168 mm woofers/mid-range speakers with their
own tweeters are concealed in the rear side sections. The 150 watt subwoofer box
for ample bass reproduction is installed behind the glove box.
Sound that envelops the driver
The amplifier, with a total output of 465 watts – together with the optional CD
changer – is fitted behind the driver's seat. A conventional linear amplifier would
produce a very large amount of power dissipation and therefore heat – as a rule of
thumb, two watts of heat for every watt of audio output. The Bang & Olufsen
system consequently has an amplifier using innovative ICE-Power technology
that limits the power dissipation to no more than 50 watts.
The digital signal processor integrated into the amplifier can transform
straightforward stereo music into surround sound that totally envelops the driver
and passenger. This effect is achieved by a complex process of analysing music
for components that sound rather "dry" and contain little echo, and components
that the listener would experience as rather diffuse in a natural environment. The
signals are distributed to the twelve speakers accordingly. A microphone in the
roof of the R8 constantly measures the level of noise inside the car, the volume of
the space and the resonance behaviour, and in effect corrects the sound pattern in
However impressive it is, though, the R8 driver is bound to want to switch even
this sound system off occasionally, in order to savour the splendid sound of the
eight high-revving cylinders.
The car market's most discerning segment
Audi is entering the most discerning segment of the car market with the R8. It is
served by only few, highly prestigious manufacturers vying for the attention of
affluent, highly sophisticated customers. The R8, with its characteristic design and
technological expertise, coupled of course with the sports and commercial success
of the Audi brand, is destined for pride of place in this field of competitors.
Sports cars are the most emotionally charged way of getting from A to B. More
programmatically than any other type of vehicle, they elevate the driving
experience to an end in itself and heighten awareness of the exhilarating side of
mobility. And they are not afraid to display their credentials openly: with their
sporty, expressive design, sports cars are also always a statement aimed at the
world around them.
Purchases with the character of rewards
The reasons why someone buys a sports car are therefore always in the realm of
the emotional. Acquiring such a car is often a person's means of rewarding
themselves, or is the fulfilment of the dreams of their youth. The main age group
for buyers of sports cars is accordingly those aged 40 to 49. The proportion of
male customers is exceptionally high, at more than 95 percent – though women
play a major part in the decision-making process. 90 percent of the target group
own two or more vehicles.
The Audi R8 is positioned in the market segment of classic sports cars. Below it
there are the small sports cars, of which the Audi TT is a very successful example,
and above it the super sports cars. Sales in the Audi R8's segment have been
slightly over 40,000 units in recent years, with a slight upward tendency. The
sports car market is, however, driven to a very high degree by the supply end: new
models stimulate the entire market.
Supreme performance plus practical utility
The market is moreover very heterogeneous. It ranges from uncompromising
driving machines offering very limited everyday practicality to comfort-oriented
Gran Turismo vehicles, and the demographics of their buyers are correspondingly
disparate. The Audi R8, on the other hand, combines superlatively dynamic
performance with high practical utility and appeals to both customer groups.
A portion of R8 buyers are expected to be loyal Audi customers who already drive
a high-class model of the brand with the four rings. The majority will, however,
be conquests, mainly from other makes of sports car.
With its basic price of EUR 104,400, the Audi R8 is positioned very
competitively considering its technological standards, road performance, very
high quality and specification. The production shop at Neckarsulm is geared up
for building a total of 20 cars a day. The most important sales markets for the R8
will be Germany, the USA and Great Britain.