By Mark Kleis
Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:04 pm
 
Audi's R8 supercar has been an unmistakably unique offering since its introduction in 2006, but the often two-toned exotic is due for a thorough makeover and it appears the German automaker is already hard at work.

With plans of reducing weight in search of improved acceleration, braking, handling and fuel economy, Autocar reports that Audi is planning a two-model line-up, utilizing updated versions of the 4.2-liter V8 and 5.2-liter V10 engines currently powering the R8. The updated R8s are expected to arrive first in Q3 2014 in coupe form, and later in Q2 2015 in drop-top roadster form.

Although it is too early to know exact final figures, it is believed that the updated V8 will produce around 450 horsepower and the updated V10 will produce around 550 horsepower. The engines will also be mated to a new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission - the same one expected to first appear in the facelifted model destined for the auto circuit this year. Beyond that, it is believed a 580 horsepower version will arrive under the GT moniker for a limited production run.

In terms of styling, expect 2014 to bring the first major changes to the R8 since its introduction, with styling likely borrowed from the E-tron.

Other changes include an expected drop in weight of approximately 130 lbs compared to the current model, putting the base model's total weight at under 3,300 lbs. The weight savings will largely come from the switch from the current all-aluminum structure to a new modular, carbon fiber and aluminum monocoque that has been confirmed at just 436 lbs by Autocar. The underpinnings for the next R8 will be shared with the all-new Gallardo, which should beat the R8 to market by a full year.

Aside from performance changes, Audi is expected to add new features such as automatic start-stop, brake energy recapturing, a drivetrain decoupling feature like that used by Porsche and radar-based cruise control.