Audi R8 gains dual clutch transmission

Audi has unveiled a revised version of its R8 supercar, with minor styling tweaks and significant technical changes – including a switch from the R-tronic automated manual gearbox to an S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. There's also a new flagship model, the 550PS R8 V10 plus.

Audi says the 7-speed S-tronic transmission is a 'totally new' design with two multi-plate clutches which is less than 60cm long. Even so it is larger and heavier than the R-tronic automated manual gearbox – a rebadged version of Lamborghini's e-gear – which it replaces. Re-engineering the R8 to accommodate the dual-clutch transmission is believed to have necessitated costly changes to the rear structure and revisions to the rear suspension.

Even if the addition of the dual-clutch transmission provides a sales boost, as Audi will hope, the current generation R8 is only expected to remain on sale for another two years or so – and it is unlikely that the cost of fitting the new gearbox will be recouped in that time. The revisions are viable because, it is believed, the next-generation R8 due in 2014 will carry over much of the drivetrain from the existing model.

Other technical changes include 'wave'-style brake discs which reduce unsprung weight, and the fitment of LED headlamps and rear lights on all models, with 'dynamic' indicators in which the lit area moves towards the outside of the car to indicate direction. There's also the option of LED illumination for the engine bay. This, and the S-tronic gearbox, are both standard equipment on the R8 V10 plus which has a 550PS version of the 5.2-litre V10 engine developing 540Nm at 6500rpm (the standard V10 is 525PS and 530Nm). Audi claims the new model will accelerate from rest to 62mph in 3.5sec and has a top speed of 197mph.