Vor­sprung Vir­tu­oso

With the fa­mous Yas ma­rina f1 cir­cuit, the brand new audi r8 and a full tank of gas, is this the per­fect su­per­car sce­nario?

Virtuozity - - Automobiles -

com­fort­able in equal mea­sure, get­ting that all im­por­tant bal­ance just right.

Ac­cel­er­at­ing out of the pit lane, I get to ex­pe­ri­ence at first hand the new 0 to 100 km/h time of 3.2 sec­onds. But not for long, as I am in­stantly thrown into one of the trick­i­est sec­tions of the cir­cuit, a 90-de­gree left, right, left, left, which is all in­trin­si­cally linked.

Get one wrong and all the rest falls apart. The trick is pa­tience, and a late turn in to the first left, which al­lows the car to get in tight to the first right, al­low­ing a tight ap­proach to the fol­low­ing left. Get that one wrong and all the speed into the fast ho­tel ap­proach is lost, com­pro­mis­ing the over­all lap.

Thank­fully, the new R8 goes where I point it thanks in part to the electro­mechan­i­cal power steer­ing sys­tem

and an op­tional elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled shock ab­sorber sys­tem (Audi Mag­netic Ride).

The Audi also brakes with­out histri­on­ics and with the com­po­sure of a car do­ing far lower speeds. The V10 Plus comes with 380 mm car­bon-fi­bre-re­in­forced ce­ramic brakes as stan­dard, which are helped by the Elec­tronic Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Con­trol (ESC) sys­tem, which rounds out the han­dling prop­er­ties, es­pe­cially in fast curves, with torque vec­tor­ing, ap­ply­ing min­i­mal brak­ing in­ter­ven­tions at the wheels on the in­side of a curve.

In the dy­namic mode, the sys­tem is con­fig­ured for max­i­mum driv­ing en­joy­ment. It cer­tainly works as I can feel the car in­stinc­tively turn­ing in when I at­tack the cor­ner.

Audi de­vel­oped the all-new R8 and the R8 LMS race ver­sion si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and it’s easy to tell. Both have made sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance gains, thanks to the close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween race­car en­gi­neers, motorsport spe­cial­ists and de­vel­op­ers.

The en­gine of the V10 Plus pro­duces 610 hp and has a max­i­mum en­gine torque of 560 Nm. Com­pared to the pre­vi­ous model, power has in­creased con­sid­er­ably, and the re­spon­sive­ness of the high-revving (up to 8,700 rpm), nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 5.2-litre en­gine is now even more spon­ta­neous.

Ex­it­ing the left and head­ing to­wards the ul­tra-fast triple right in front of the Yas Viceroy’s out­door din­ing area, I can feel just

how light the new R8 is. The new V10 plus weighs in at just 1,454 kg, thanks to the new 200 kg Audi Space Frame (ASF).

One of the first things new own­ers will no­tice is the in­cred­i­ble sound. The V10 sounds amaz­ing, as the ex­haust noise is con­trolled by an elec­tronic flap, which al­lows sound through de­pend­ing on the se­lected speed and set­tings.

The key to the sec­tion un­der the ho­tel is be­ing in the right gear at the right mo­ment. The seven-speed S-tronic sys­tem ex­e­cutes light­ning-fast gearshifts via a ‘shift-by-wire’ sys­tem.

Mid-cor­ner, the new R8 also dis­plays its pre­cise steer­ing with its pivot point seem­ingly di­rectly un­der the driver. The grip is in­cred­i­ble and con­fi­dence in­spir­ing.

Head­ing down the side of the ho­tel, watched by a num­ber of curious spec­ta­tors on the view­ing bridge over the track, I’ve picked up a lot of speed. The dou­ble-tonne comes up very quickly in­deed. The V10 Plus can do it from a stand­ing start in just 9.9 sec­onds, and with all that avail­able torque roll on power is very im­pres­sive.

Pow­er­ing out of the sec­ond gear fi­nal turn and back onto the sup­port pit straight, I head back into the pits to give the car a break and per­haps more im­por­tantly give my­self time to cool off and think about this new weapon.

What is very clear is that it is an ex­tremely sharp tool in the su­per­car arena. The orig­i­nal R8 broke so many of the es­tab­lished rules and showed the in­cum­bent builders just what could be done given a blank sheet of pa­per. This new R8 takes this even fur­ther and ex­ceeds all ex­pec­ta­tions.

If the su­per­car world wasn’t wor­ried be­fore, it should be now.

Also at Geneva, Lam­borgh­ini un­veiled the Cen­te­nario, which cel­e­brates the cen­te­nary of founder Fer­ruc­cio Lam­borgh­ini’s birth.

Only 20 coupé and 20 roadster ver­sions of the Cen­te­nario will be pro­duced and all 40 cars are al­ready sold, at a start price of 1.75 mil­lion eu­ros plus tax.

The Cen­te­nario con­tin­ues Lam­borgh­ini’s one-off strat­egy. Us­ing the V12 ar­chi­tec­ture from the Aven­ta­dor, the Cen­te­nario’s nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine pro­duces 770 hp and pow­ers from 0-100 km/h in 2.8 sec­onds, and from 0-300 km/h in 23.5 sec­onds with a top speed of more than 350 km/h. Brak­ing from 100 km/h to stand­still is achieved in 30 me­tres. A mono­coque and body in full car­bon fi­bre pro­vide a low weight of 1,520 kg and a weight to power ra­tio of 1.97 kg/hp.

The car’s aero­dy­namic de­sign in­cludes an ex­tend­ing rear wing pro­vid­ing more down­force at high speeds. The in­tro­duc­tion of rear-wheel steer­ing pro­vides in­creased agility and stability, and an in­no­va­tive touch­screen pro­vides con­nected in­fo­tain­ment, in­clud­ing in­ter­net brows­ing and Ap­ple Carplay.

The Cen­te­nario adopts a new rear-wheel steer­ing sys­tem. At high speeds, the rear tyres turn in the same di­rec­tion of the steer­ing an­gle, which leads to a vir­tual in­crease of the wheel­base. As a re­sult, the rear-wheel steer­ing pro­vides in­creased stability and op­ti­mises ve­hi­cle re­sponse.

610 bhp @ 7,800 rpm 560 Nm @ 6,500 rpm

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