We knew the specs; we knew what it looked like; we even had an idea how much more it would cost than the 'base' V-8-powered R8. But we didn't know how it sounded—did Audi try to get a more refined Germanic sound out of the mammoth Lamborghini mill, as in the S6 or S8, or does it have the Gallardo’s more savage raspiness?
That answer will have to wait, as the new flagship R8 5.2 FSI was parked through Audi’s press conference on the Detroit stand. The new 525-horsepower, 5.2-liter V-10 engine—essentially in the same tune as in the Lamborghini Gallardo—will propel the R8 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds and to a top speed of 196 mph.
The R8 5.2 FSI also gets its own rear diffuser for more downforce, along with twin oval pipes in back to lend a very subtle distinction from the V-8 model. Magnetic Ride Control is standard on the R8 V10, and Audi Launch Control will likely be even more appreciated.
Curiously, fuel economy isn't quite as dismal as expected. The R8 V10, with the R tronic transmission, averages about 17 mpg in the European cycle, according to Audi.
The new version of the R8 does carry a few other distinctions. According to Audi it's the “first car in the world” to offer high- and low-bean LED headlamps standard. Audi also says that there's an energy-consumption aspect to the move; xenon and LED headlights will be twice as efficient as they are now by 2018, but even today they're about four times more efficient than halogens.
The lack of gas fumes and V-10 rumble somehow left us pining for an encore performance from Bryan Adams—and for the flaming mother of all oil burners, the production version of the Le Mans–derived R8 V12 TDI 'concept' shown at Detroit last year. Audi's been teasing us with the possibility of the V12 TDI (and its 738 non-stinkin' pound-feet) ever since announcing the R8. So c'mon, it's about time.