The 2016 Audi R8 debuted as the vanguard of the second generation of the highly successful German supercar. Though the new R8 design is anchored by a 5.2 liter V10 making 610 horsepower, the R8 e-tron can be special ordered with an all-electric drivetrain that’s almost as fast as the Tesla P85D.
There’s so much more to the 2016 Audi R8 though than just a choice of conventional or electric drivetrains. A new Audi Space Frame (AFS) combines aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics to form a high-strength, low-weight frame supporting this high-tech supercar. Greater use of low-weight materials enables a relatively svetel curb weight of just 3,205 pounds,down from as much as 3,847 pounds.
Lower weight means better fuel economy, and even the top-of-the-line 610 horsepower V10 manages to be about 10% more fuel efficient than the outgoing motor. Direct injection, start/stop, and even cylinder deactivation all contribute to a slightly less-thirsty car. There’s also a less-powerful version of the V10 available, to the tune of just 540 horsepower. The e-tron electric drivetrain makes just 456 horsepower in comparison, but the 679 lb-ft of torque of way more than either V10, which offer “only” 398 to 413 lb-ft of pulling power. Top speed is limited to either 130 or 155 MPH, and the R8 e-tron can zip from 0 to 62 MPH in just 3.9 seconds. That’s not quite as quick as either the Tesla P85D or the V10 powered R8, which Audi says can reach 62 MPH in just 3.2 seconds.
The real story here though is the claimed 280 miles of driving range. Audi says that it has nearly doubled the energy density of the original R8 e-tron battery pack from 84 Wh/kg to 154 Wh/kg, without increasing the size of the battery pack. Though at first glance this would appear to out-range the Tesla Model S with its maximum of 265 miles per charge, the European testing scale (which Audi’s claim is almost certainly based on) is much more generous in its range estimations. For example, the 82-mile Nissan LEAF here in the U.S. gets a 124-mile rating in the U.K.
Even so, the 2016 R8 e-tron becomes just the second production electric vehicle to offer more than 200 miles of driving range per charge. Sure, customers will have to special order one, and it will probably be hella-expensive (yes, hella), but given the will-they-won’t-they song and dance Audi put us through, I’m just happy the R8 e-tron exists at all.