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2012 Audi R8 GT

Car Name: Audi R8 GT
Brand Name: Audi

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Regardless of the frequency, our pulse still races every time we fire up a ten-cylinder engine. It's not just the unique sound or the warbled vibration that gets the blood flowing – it's the anticipation. Whether the badge says Gallardo, Viper or M5, a V10 under the hood promises intoxicating power and frenzied excitement.

The new Audi R8 GT packs just such an engine – a 5.2-liter V10. Mid-mounted in an aluminum and magnesium monocoque chassis, the powerplant is rated at 560 horsepower. With all-wheel drive and a sequential gearbox, the coupe rockets to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds before hitting an aerodynamic wall just shy of 200 miles per hour. It is, notes Audi, the lightest, fastest and most powerful supercar in its lineup.

Constructing the R8 GT was hardly a mild undertaking. Audi first put the R8 on a diet, shedding 180 pounds. They then turned their attention to the powerplant, where engineers were able to coax the 5.2-liter V10 into delivering another 35 hp. The suspension, brakes and underpinnings were upgraded, while the automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive system received their own new set of commands. Lastly, unique cosmetic touches were applied that not only improved the R8's appearance, but boosted performance.

As Audi has limited production of the R8 GT to just 333 copies worldwide (with only 90 examples falling into very lucky hands within the United States), we consider ourselves fortunate to be one of just a handful of journalists at Sonoma, California's Infineon Raceway to put the world's newest exotic through its paces on a race circuit.

At the heart of the R8 GT is its mid-mounted, direct-injected 5.2-liter V10. Sitting in plain view under a transparent hood, the all-aluminum engine is nearly identical to the unit fitted to the standard R8 5.2 FSI. However, to prepare it for a more challenging role, Audi's engineering team made a few tweaks to squeeze a few more horses from the 90-degree dry sump powerplant. The result is 560 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm (redline is a stratospheric 8,700 rpm). While the standard R8 5.2 is offered with a choice between a traditional gated six-speed manual and the automaker's R-Tronic six-speed single-clutch sequential automatic, there is no such option on the R8 GT. All are fitted with a specially-calibrated R-Tronic transmission as standard equipment. That decision may frustrate purists, including ourselves, but the automated gearbox arrives with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and electronic launch control in an effort to appease the masses. Officially, Audi says the new R8 GT will hit 62 mph in 3.6 seconds with a top speed aerodynamically limited to 199 mph.

Part of the impressive acceleration is credited to Audi's full-time Quattro all-wheel-drive system. It's standard fitment on all R8 models, including the GT. The system has been engineered with a dry torque split of 15/85 (percent front/rear). However, if wheel slippage is noted by the electronics, up to 30 percent of the engine's torque may be sent to the front wheels. Aiding grip is a standard mechanical locking rear differential that provides 25-percent lockup under acceleration and 40 percent on the overrun. Putting the power to the pavement are unique 19-inch forged alloy wheels, wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires (235/35R19 front, 295/30R19 rear). Significantly, Audi's renowned Magnetic Ride suspension is not used on the R8 GT. Instead, the adaptive electronic suspension has been replaced with standard Bilstein coilovers. Fully adjustable and race-bred, they allow custom settings for ride height and tuning.

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