Second gen Audi R8 – just gets better

The 2017 Audi R8 is set to become a standout during its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The German automaker is really birthing two different animals with the second-gen R8 – imagine one a roaring lion, the other a purring panther.

Audi continues the legacy of the R8 with a mighty 5.2-litre V10 petrol version while also debuting alongside it, unexpectedly, a production model of the all-electric variant. One thing the petrol and e-Tron versions have in common is that they are both impressively fast.

While other automakers are downsizing and turbocharging, the 2017 Audi R8 V10 ditches the 8-cylinder version and retains the 10-cylinder. The standard V10 produces 540hp and 398ft-lb of torque, and the V10 Plus version – which you can identify by its larger rear spoiler – gives you an extra 70hp for a total of 610hp and 413ft-lb of twist. Big engines might not be the trend now since green is in, but fuel-saving technology means these V10’s consume less fuel than before, by up to 10% – half of the cylinders shut off when the car doesn’t need full power and the entire engine can turn off during traffic stops; another mode decouples the transmission from the driveshaft when coasting. The engines are also mated to an improved seven-speed S Tronic gearbox with paddle shifts.

Of course, better material has also led to lighter cars. Carbon-fibre reinforced plastic used in parts of the structure has shed 110 pounds from the upcoming R8. The Quattro AWD system has also been upgraded – all of the engine’s power can be channeled either to the front or rear wheels, leading to better grip and general performance.

The basic V10 engine can propel the car from zero to 62 in 3.5 seconds and to a top speed of 200mph; the Plus version can do it in just 3.2 seconds and tops out at 205mph.

The new R8 e-Tron is joining the party sooner than expected and is set to rival the BMW i8, although not in terms of sales volume – the former will be hand built by special request only.

This new all-electric version will sport more carbon-fibre reinforced plastic to offset the weight of the T-shaped li-ion battery pack. What’s interesting to us is the new battery technology developed in-house by Audi. While its size remains unchanged, the new battery has an improved capacity of 92kWh from 49kWh in the prototype version, making it almost four times larger than that of the Nissan Leaf; thus, the impressive improvement on the range, as it can now travel 280 miles on a single charge whereas it used to go only 134 miles before needing another plug-in.

The improved battery system has boosted the power output significantly, providing 455hp and 679ft-lb of torque. As a result, the R8 e-Tron can sprint from standstill to 62 in 3.9 seconds, with an electronically-governed speed of 155mph.

The petrol marvels go on sale in Europe this summer, with a starting price of €165,000, but the price and sale of the e-Tron have yet to be announced.

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