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Auto blogTue, 26 Nov 2013
"Simplify and add lightness," as Lotus founder Colin Chapman said. In a world where even supercars are subject to environmental, efficiency and emissions standards, lighter vehicles are being looked on as a sort of panacea - make it lighter, and it's automatically faster, more agile, easier to brake and better on gas.
Knowing this, it comes as no shock that Audi is looking at ways to lighten up its next-generation R8, with the brand's head of technical development Ulrich Hackenberg targeting a 110- to 130-pound diet for the mid-engine rocket. This supports previous reports regarding the focus for the next R8. Motor Trend reports that aluminum and carbon fiber feature heavily in plans for the next R8, which should go a long way toward slimming down even the lightest of R8s, the 3,678-pound V10 Plus model.
There's more over at Motor Trend, including the buff book's attempts to get Hackenberg to discuss powertrain options for the next R8.
Not all vehicle prototypes and mules require heavy camouflage - sometimes they can be hidden in plain sight. That's probably what Audi was hoping for while testing its new RS3 wearing S3 duds, but thanks to some visual and audible telltales, our spy photographers were able to recognize this as a precursor to the marque's ultra-hot hatch testing near the Nürburgring.
Our photographer noticed the signature exhaust note of a five-cylinder engine, which suggests the RS3 could borrow its motivation from the excellent TT RS. Producing at least 340 horsepower, this 2.5-liter turbo powerplant could be the perfect answer for the new A45 AMG from Mercedes-Benz. The big brakes on this RS3 mule give us our best idea about the car's high-performance intentions, with Audi RS wave brake rotors and six-piston calipers peering out from behind the oversized wheels.
In production form, the RS3 should have a much different appearance from what you see here, with sportier design cues including oval-shaped dual exhaust outlets and a more aggressive front fascia. While we're still waiting for our first taste of the S3 in the North America, we'll be holding our breath for the RS3 to make its way here, as well.
It's an envious position to be in, not wanting a normal Audi A8 but not wanting to make the statement that comes with a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. What's an oligarch to do? Well, if you have the funds, consider the A8 Audi Exclusive Concept (yes, that's the actual name), a modified A8L W12 that's limited to just 50 units and features a significantly upgraded interior. Think of it as a followup to the A8 Exclusive Concept, shown at Frankfurt in 2011.
Aniline leather from Italian furniture manufacturer Poltrona Frau is fitted over the seats, while diamond stiching accentuates the Agatha Cognac color. Granite Gray piping and stitching on the seats provides some contrast - not just with the leather but the natural, olive ash inlays on the dash. Granite Gray Nappa leather lines the instrument panel and steering wheel while a white Alcantara headliner sets off the whole package. Not that it's a shock, but this looks like a really nice place to spend some time.
It's unclear how much the exclusive concept treatment adds on to the already lofty $135,900 starting price of a US-spec A8L W12, or if the special interior treatment will even be available in the North America. Production is set to kick off next March. Scroll down for the full statement from Audi.