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How the Audi R8 Works


Audi R8 Styling
The Audi R8's side blades are swaths of carbon fiber that run directly behind the passenger doors.
The Audi R8's side blades are swaths of carbon fiber that run directly behind the passenger doors.
Audi of America

With its sculpted sheet metal, the R8 certainly looks the part of an exotic car. But it has a couple of extra features that most supercars don't have.

From the front, the most noticeable extra feature the R8 has is its headlights. Of course, all supercars have headlights, but the R8 has a row of LED lights running through the bottom of its headlight assemblies. The LEDS are daytime running lamps, and they serve not only as an extra measure of safety but also to highlight and emphasize the cat's-eye shape of the headlamps. It's a look that Audi has started to carry through its entire vehicle line.

The headlamps frame an oversized grilled that reaches down through the front bumper. It's an interesting feature -- not because having headlamps on either side of a grille is unusual, but because grilles are typically used to allow air in to cool the engine. With the R8's engine nowhere near the grille, having one in the front is a mainly a stylistic choice.

Another stylish feature is the R8's side blades. These are swaths of carbon fiber that run directly behind the R8's passenger doors. Carbon fiber is a super-light, super-rigid material. It's also super expensive. It's the preferred material for F1 cars because it's so strong yet light. Using pieces of carbon fiber is becoming more common on road cars. Putting it right behind the door openings helps the R8's body regain some of the strength that's lost by having doors. The R8 also has a carbon-fiber engine cover and carbon-fiber side mirrors.

While the R8 is a good looking coupe, for 2010 Audi introduced the R8 5.2 Spyder, which has a soft top. Having a soft top was a performance choice -- convertible hard tops often add too much extra weight. The R8 Sypder's soft top only adds an additional 66.14 pounds (30 kilograms). However, the R8 Spyder doesn't have the coupe's distinctive carbon-fiber side blades.


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