The new R8 is all-round sharper and more alert than the old one, a car that was, let’s be fair, hardly soggy. These are no mere tweaks. The whole tub and body structure is new. It still has a largely aluminium spaceframe and all-aluminium panels.
But the whole lower central section of the tub, the part you sit in including sills, lower B-posts and bulkhead, are now made of carbon fibre. Stiffer, lighter, better. That section will really help when making the convertible. The 1,555kg kerbweight is extremely lean when you factor in the 10 cylinders and four driven wheels.
As for engines, well, the V8 has gone, at least for the moment. The old car launched as a V8, but every time Audi added more cylinders or power (first the V10, then the V10 Plus) they took the lion’s share of sales.
So this time around it’s just the 5.2-litre V10, with 533bhp, and a Plus version with 602bhp. The Plus also gets firmer suspension and shorter ratios for the upper gears for even more venomous acceleration. The critical flag to identify the Plus version is the fixed carbon-fibre rear wing, rather than a more modest hideaway one.
British supercar at its best !!
AMG’s return fire against the Audi RS3. For nine short months, Quattro GmbH could legitimately claim it created the most powerful, fastest production hot hatch in the world, in the shape of the 362bhp RS3. Not any more it can’t.
What’s AMG done – fitted some sort of Bloodhound-style rocket motor?
The next best thing – eked even more power out of the world’s highest specific output engine. The facelifted A45 AMG develops 381 hp, rises of 21hp on the original.
Remember, we’re talking about a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine here. One that’s road-legal, fully warrantied by one of the world’s most recognised luxury carmakers.
This incredible motor develops more punch than the V8 in the back of a Ferrari F355. It is, regardless of the moral dubiousness of The Horsepower Wars, a remarkable engineering achievement.
So it’s fast, then?
Yes, both on paper, and on a road. The raw stats claim 0.4 seconds have been trimmed from the A45’s 0-100 kph sprint, which falls to 4.2 seconds. That beats Audi’s 4.3 boast for the RS3.
The top speed? I ran out of clear autobahn before the A45 stopped pulling. It’s extremely fast.
The diminutive engine is nonetheless tractable, and pulls keenly from zip, though it really prefer life above 3500rpm. And, at last, we’ve got a gearbox that agrees.
Welcome, readers, to the future. A future where a 600bhp Porsche sports car has four doors, four full-size seats, four-wheel drive and dispatches 0-100 km/h in under 3.5 seconds, yet there’s not a drop of unleaded fuel in sight.
Welcome to the Porsche Mission E – an all-electric sports car revealed at the Frankfurt motor show and one that, if all goes to plan, could prove as significant to Porsche’s next 50 years as the 911 has to its past.
Over to Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche’s R&D boss to explain what on earth is going on.
“With this car we intend to start a new era with Porsche, similar to the 911 fifty years ago,” Hatz tell us. “This is more than a show car, it’s a concept car that we can realise. To put it into production we’ll need three to three-and-a-half years.”
He’s not beating around the bush then. In fact, the only reason we need to wait at all is to allow the necessary technology to come on stream.
Claimed figures for the Mission E? 0-100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds; 600bhp from its two e-motors (one on each axle); a range of 500km (312 miles); an 80 per cent charge in 15 minutes thanks to a world-first 800V architecture. Oh, and a weight target of 2,000kg.
All these numbers are all theoretical at the moment, based on Porsche’s projections for how current tech will develop over the next few years.
But Porsche knows that if its change-adverse customer base is to accept the idea, it firstly needs to make them weak at the knees. That’s where design boss Michael Mauer and his team come in.
“The challenge was keeping it low,” Mauer says. “You have the floor, then the battery, then the people. We had to squeeze out every millimetre to make it a dramatic shape.”
Well, it was worth the squeeze, because at 129cm high, the Mission E sits shoulder-to-shoulder with a 911, while at 199cm wide it’s a full 18cm broader.
Nose-to-tail it slots neatly between the Panamera and 911, but Mauer is quick to point out the Mission E is more of a four-door 911 than a small Panamera. Given its shrink-wrapped bodywork and 911-shaped glasshouse we’re inclined to agree.