The re-engineered Audi R8 has been spied for the first time and since it was at night in non-reflective paintwork, the visual revisions done to the undisguised supercar were obvious. The R8 Spyder will be unveiled this August at the Moscow show but it will go on sale this autumn. However, the more significant changes include a new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission on the options list.
This needed a totally new rear structure. Initially, the R8 was designed with a six-speed transmission in mind. It would be operated with a conventional clutch and shift mechanism with the R-tronic clutchless sequential-change system available as an option.
But then, Audi’s product planners and marketing division wrongly judged how high the global demand for a self-shifting gearbox would be. It’s understood that not having one in the R8 has led to the drop in its sales.
Audi took the costly step of redesigning the whole of the rear tub, engine carrier and suspension to receive the much wider and heavier dual-clutch transmission, even if the current R8 only has two years more to be on sale. It’s not yet clear if the S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox will be available with both V8 and V10 powerplants.
It’s expected that the V10 will receive a slight increase from 525bhp to around 540bhp. However, the 424bhp 4.2-litre V8 is expected to stay mostly unchanged.
The big expense of re-engineering a current model is likely to be largely recouped when Audi will launch a new R8 in late 2014 or early 2015. However, this car (with a codename of AU724) will pioneer a new styling direction for Audi. It will also come with a predominantly aluminum body and the driveline architecture of the facelifted model from this autumn would be carried over.