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Looking Back: The Audi R8 GT - Too Much Is Never Enough

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On: Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 2:45PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Looking Back:  The Audi R8 GT - Too Much Is Never Enough

It's an age-old mantra most gear heads will recognize:  Run what ya brung, and hope it's enough!  Whether it's at the track, road course, or just the next traffic light, every hot rodder knows that feeling of getting beat out when you weren't expecting to lose. Watching taillights pull ahead of you when you're giving your own car everything its got is demoralizing, disheartening, and feels worse than watching your favorite team lose the Superbowl. After a loss, there are stages of rehabilitation:  Surprise, Anger, Denial, Sadness, Acceptance, and, in some cases, Resolve. Surprise that a car could beat a car that you believed was unbeatable; then anger, quickly on its heels, that you spent money on a car that isn't as fast as the car now humbling and/or humiliating you. The denial comes a little later. That usually stems from the transmission:  "Oh I missed a shift", or sometimes "He caught me in the wrong gear", or the ever popular "I need a new clutch, this one is slipping pretty badly, but next time..."  Each of these excuses, along with hundreds of others like it, all boil down to the same result:  You lost. Winners never make excuses for why they won.

Such is the life of any car enthusiast, but maybe none more than the drive-it-to-the-track guy. Sure he is only a weekend warrior, sure he might have 85,000 miles on his three-year-old racer because, much like the driver himself, his car leads a double life as a Clark Kent-type daily driver grinding through the Monday to Friday commute before they can both jump in a phone booth and transform into Superman and Supercar. But the problem is, even if drive-it-to-the-track guy explains all this to trailer-queen racer guy, he still lost and trailer-queen guy is king of the race.

It seems Audi has heard the cry of the daily-driver track star, and has tried to help bridge the gap between the two worlds with the Audi R8 GT. Although it might seem redundant and almost unnecessary to try to improve the R8, Audi officials seem to think otherwise and took on a mentality that Ferrari has all but perfected when it began introducing its Challenge Stradale and Scuderia models. It's very similar to a hardcore bodybuilder at a health club. Sure, he can bench 450, and that might be the best anyone at that club has seen, but if he he can do better, why not? Much like the big guy at the health club, the R8 5.2 FSI already comes equipped with enough muscle to embarrass most other road-going vehicles. But the R8 GT takes everything just a step or two toward tackling apexes and fast corner exits, rather than erring on the side of civility and drives with the wife to the opera. There is plenty of good and bad when it comes to messing with near-perfection.

The good is easy to find when compared with the "normal" R8:
More horsepower: 560 vs. 525
More torque: 398 pound-feet vs. 391
Less weight: 3450 pounds vs. 3671 pounds
Higher top speed: 199 vs. 196
Quicker 0–60 acceleration: 3.1 vs. 3.4 seconds

However, with the good always comes the bad:
Higher price: $200,000 vs. $151,750
Less availability: Only 90 were made available in North America vs. As close as your local Audi dealership
Even less availability than you think: Of the 333 of these cars made in total worldwide, all have been long spoken for.

Obviously there is plenty of good that will come for the proud few owners of the R8 GT. While some of you might be upset that you won't be able to get your hands on one, keep in mind, this might not be the car for you. Instead of the standard magnetorheological shocks that can be adjusted from your comfy driver's seat, the R8 GT gets coil-overs that need to be manually lowered (up to 0.4 inches). To save weight, the windshield is thinner, the engine compartment bulkhead is polycarbonate, as well as the rear window. Thinner glass means more road noise, and polycarbonate can get cloudy over time. A carbon-fiber engine cover is also employed as a weight saving device, which although cool, is much more expensive to replace than its aluminum counterpart. Audi removed the regular 5.2 FSI's understeer tendencies and made the GT almost completely neutral to give it telepathic-like responses. The downside is that the car can seem a bit more darty on the highway, and tends to wander a little more than the 5.2 FSI even though both are shod with the same Pirelli P Zero 235/35/ZR-19 front and 295/30/ZR-19 rear tires.

So is the Audi R8 GT for you? Well, as previously noted, it doesn't actually matter because you can't buy one. It seems that, in fitting fashion, it was a race just to get one. So for now, keep racing your regular old R8, but do keep an eye out for a similar-looking car with slightly different forged aluminum wheels, a rear diffuser, a double-lipped front air dam, and a fixed carbon-fiber rear wing. If you run across one of these badass track stars, just know that if you run what ya brung, it just might not be enough.

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