Test Drive: 2012 Audi R8 GT Coupe car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2012 Audi R8 GT. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2012 Audi R8

In the interest of full journalistic disclosure, I’ve never met an Audi R8 I didn’t like. In its first kick at the supercar can, Audi hit the sweet spot in a big way. Whether you choose the 420-hp 4.2-litre V8 or 525-hp 5.2-litre V10, six-speed manual or six-speed automated R Tronic, coupe or convertible, Audi’s all-wheel drive mid-engine exotic delivers an intoxicating cocktail of speed, user-friendly dynamics, soul, sound, high style, and perhaps most surprisingly, comfort.

But when is a supercar not super enough?

If there is any criticism that can be fairly levelled at the R8, one could argue that it’s just not nasty enough; perhaps a little too soft – too nice. Not a true track weapon like the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4.

Test Drive: 2012 Audi R8 GT Coupe car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2012 Audi R8 GT. Click image to enlarge

Addressing these “issues”, the lads at Audi’s performance arm quattro GmbH have fashioned an R8 with a tad more attitude. The 2012 V10-powered R8 GT Coupe sheds 80 kg, gains 35 hp (to 560 hp), 8 lb.-ft. (to 398 lb.-ft.), gets carbon ceramic brakes and a more track-focused suspension setup. Not to mention generous lashings of way cool matt-finish carbon fibre both inside and out.

For the privilege of owning one of these 333 factory specials, you’re paying $228,000, which is $55,000 over the price of the regular R8 5.2 FSI V10.

Unlike the lightweight Ferrari 430 Scuderia of a few years back, the R8 GT is hardly a stripped-out hard-core version of the road car. In fact, Audi asks very few concessions in the way of comfort and convenience. Air con? Check. Audio? Bang and Olufsen, thank you. Navigation? Yup. We even get comfy powered Nappa sport seats because the Euro-spec racing shells don’t pass legal muster here.

Test Drive: 2012 Audi R8 GT Coupe car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
Test Drive: 2012 Audi R8 GT Coupe car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2012 Audi R8 GT. Click image to enlarge

The only absentees are auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, Homelink, rear-view camera and rain and light sensors.

So how do you make the already svelte all-aluminum R8 lighter? In small increments. A thinner windshield and polycarbonate rear window account for nine kg, as do the carbon ceramic brakes. The carbon fibre rear hatch, rear bumper and side blades save 13 kg. Turf some sound insulation and powered rear spoiler, add a polycarbonate engine-compartment bulkhead, shave(!) the carpeting, fit 19-inch forged alloy wheels and you’re on your way.

So you might want to forego that Grand Slam breakfast before climbing aboard.

Behind the wheel the differences are subtle. The lightweight exhaust system barks with more authority, the ride is a little busier (but still compliant) and the front end has a bit more bite. The GT ditches the adaptive magnetorheological dampers for a manually adjustable coilover suspension that can lower ride height by as much as 10 mm. From the factory, the GT rides 7.5 mm closer to the tarmac and more negative camber is dialled in both front and rear. The fixed rear spoiler and “lips” on the front wings increase high-speed downforce.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).