The new R8 is big news, of course, for supercar shoppers. Three models are set for the US range: the R8, R8 V10 and R8 V10 Plus. All sport AWD as standard and curb weights of 3500- and 3600-pounds.
America will miss out on the limited-release R8 E-Tron but we will definitely see the fifth family member: the nearly unbeatable 2016 R8 LMS.
This factory racecar is already outselling the existing model among dozens of top-tier sportscar racing teams. The reasons are simple: it is faster than ever thanks to cunning new aero and mechanicals.
The biggest changes versus the V10 Plus road cars? Two major things:
— the LMS is rear-drive only versus the standard 40:60 quattro torque split for all other R8s.
— the LMS is MASSIVELY lighter: just 2700-pounds makes its 585-horsepower feel like 1000+.
The aero package is intense: this is basically a shell racecar when it comes to the bodywork. 50-percent of the overall R8 parts are said to be shared across the road/race divide… but that is mostly a nominal figure. The bodywork, for example, is now fully CRFP versus the aluminum of the road car for every panel except the roof.
So many things from the original R8 are just chucked wholesale — including the entire front subframe, now sporting new crash structures and extreme downforce from lower overall speeds. It is sucked down to the pavement harder than ever, and without crossing 100-mph or so. The new aerokit will start working hard from just 60-mph or so.
Interesting details on the nose, with sliced front fenders and a unique vacuum-effect piece for the upper hood. There is a sharp upward spoiler ahead of the windshield and cabin compartment. The aero theory is to create a suction effect. The negative pressure point pulls air up from the main intake channels of the mostly-solid nose.
The new nose lets the cabin ventilation improve radically versus the current LMS car. Other driver-comfort tweaks include individual adjustments for the pedals and steering wheel, plus a much-lighter and quicker six-speed sequential transmission. Not just kind additions for fatcats — this endurance racer is a long-term home for drivers, and needs to be comfortable to avoid stressing their muscles and joints over hours of racing heat. Comfort = podiums!
Around the profile and into the tail, you can really see how all the new CFRP panels give massive room to pull air through their radiators, over the brakes and into the engine in back.
New rear fender treatments hang the outer bodywork far from the main silhouette of the R8. These free-standing wings and the new-shape tail are multi-functional: aiding the underody downforce ground effects and also venting huge heat from the engine.
The all-new aero is likely the single biggest improvement: the drag coefficient is down 20-percent versus the current R8 LMS — even while upping the downforce dramatically. A smaller rear wing delivers the stickiness in back this year — and is sleeker for higher overall V-maxes.
Pricing and global sales of the R8 LMS are open now: $400k buys you the most intimidating GT3 car on any racetrack in 2016. $50k more and they will fill another DHL aircrate full of parts!