2023 Audi R8 GT: Last Blast

Strong points
  • Delightful naturally aspirated V10
  • Quicker dual-clutch gearbox
  • Torque Rear driving mode
  • Very exclusive
Weak points
  • High price
  • Limited production
  • Slower 0-100 than the R8 quattro
Full report

As we all know, Audi is firmly committed to electrification and the glorious days of internal combustion engines are numbered in Ingolstadt, but that hasn't stopped Audi Sport engineers from fine-tuning the sporty R8 by creating the new GT variant powered by the most powerful version of the naturally aspirated V10.

This large powerplant drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Engineers have also developed a device called Torque Rear Drive Mode that allows the intervention of the electronic stability control system to be modulated through several levels, thus allowing beautiful controlled drifting.

Welcome aboard this new Audi R8 GT, which will be produced in a limited series of 333 examples, all with individual numbering.

27 Metres Per Second

The 5.2-litre V10 engine's rev limit is 8,700 rpm, and that means that each of the ten pistons covers a distance equivalent to 27 metres per second... The sound that accompanies each rev-up is goosebump-inducing. Engineers have also redesigned the dual-clutch gearbox to make shifting faster, and also tweaked the axle ratio. As a result, the R8 GT goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, 0 to 200 in 10.1 seconds, and the top speed is 320 km/h. And if the R8 GT concedes a few tenths to the R8 quattro on the 0 to 100 km/h, it's because the latter's all-wheel drive gives it an optimized initial traction compared to the GT, which is a rear-wheel drive.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

If you've read our report and seen our video on the Audi RS 3, which unfortunately is not sold in Canada, you’re already familiar with this particular component. But the R8 GT's Torque Rear Drive Mode is very different from the RS 3's. On the RS 3, there are two multi-plate clutches coupled to the rear differential, allowing you to vary the torque distribution from one side of the car to the other that can send all the torque to the outside wheel, transforming the car into a real drifting machine.

On the R8 GT, the Torque Rear mode modulates the traction control and electronic stability control systems to allow drifts and slides according to seven levels of intervention. To activate it, simply twist the knob on the steering wheel to choose between levels 1 through 7. The higher the level, the more pronounced the slide. Level 7 is where all hell breaks loose!

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

Audi set up a drifting course on the Monteblanco circuit designed to put this feature to the test. All I had to do was select level 7 and drive in second gear, then step on the gas to induce the slide and then maintain it by handling the steering wheel. During this exercise, the R8 GT was particularly sensitive but very dynamic! Three minutes of fun later and the rear tires were toast... Of course, we don't advise anyone to try this on public roads, but in the controlled environment of a closed circuit, it's possible to really enjoy every facet of the R8 GT.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

Inspired by the R8 Race Car

Production Audi R8s, including the GT, are assembled in the same Böllinger Höfe factory where Audi Sport builds the chassis for the R8 race cars in the GT4, GT3 and GT2 categories. Incidentally, this plant also builds the RS e-tron GT on the same assembly line as the R8s. As the GT is the most distinctive variant of the R8 range and is subject to small-scale production, Audi chose to give it a more extreme look.

Only three colors are available, Suzuka Gray, Daytona Gray or Tango Red. All R8 GTs feature a wind tunnel-developed aerokit with a front spoiler, front bumper side panels and a spoiler with gooseneck brackets, all made of carbon fibre, no less!

The interior is almost identical to that of a traditional R8, but the GT stands out with red seatbelts, sport seats with red stitching and "R8 GT" badging, and a red marker at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel. Only 10 of these exceptional cars will be available in Canada, and 150 in the United States, starting in the first quarter of 2023.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

Audi Canada hasn't determined the price as of yet, but we're betting that it will be well over $250,000.

Finally, this R8 GT represents a sort of apotheosis for the German brand's naturally-aspirated V10 performance model. The sensations experienced behind the wheel are visceral, especially on the track where the Torque Rear mode allows you to have a blast while keeping an electronic safety net, or on a skidpad by choosing level 7 for drifting fun... By combining the most powerful version of the naturally aspirated V10 with a finely tuned chassis, engineers have created the ultimate R8, one that pushes the limits and adopts the same philosophy as its close cousin, the recent Lamborghini Huracan STO.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

It's clear that the next generation Audi R8, or the model that will replace it, will adopt some form of electrification in order to comply with ever more stringent environmental standards. It's a safe bet that the naturally aspirated V10 will have to give way to a supercharged engine, probably a V8, with some form of hybridization. In the meantime, if the sound of the naturally-aspirated V10 at full throttle sounds enchanting, there's still time to take action and buy an R8 GT that's as powerful and dynamic as it is exclusive.

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