2012 Audi R8 GT

    Sure, the base Audi R8 is a phenomenal car -- it was dubbed the winner of our 2008 Best Handling Car competition. But we knew there was more to come from Ingolstadt. First, Audi stuffed a V-10 under the hood, and now the German automaker has sharpened the car's edge even further with its new R8 GT.

    While more of a track-ready R8 5.2 than an alternative to the raw Porsche 911 GT3 RS or the absolutely insane GT2 RS, the R8 GT is some 220 pounds lighter than a garden-variety R8 V-10, while the V-10's power is up a modest 35 horsepower and 7 pound-feet of torque to 560 and 398, respectively.

    Outside, the GT stands apart from the R8 crowd via numerous carbon fiber aerodynamic bits that also provide additional downforce and high-speed stability. The front fascia is adorned with a double-lip splitter and a winglet on both sides. At rear, there's a large spoiler, diffuser, and a carbon-fiber bumper. The R8's distinctive side blades also get the carbon fiber treatment.

    At the core of the interior changes are lightweight fiberglass-reinforced plastic-frame sport seats. Combined, they're a full 69.5 pounds lighter than the stock V-10 seats, accounting for a large chunk of the GT's total weight savings. Unfortunately, these won't be offered in U.S.-market GTs because of federal regulations. European-market GTs are also fitted with a four-point harness instead of traditional three-point belts. The cabin also features a rollcage, fire extinguisher, and copious carbon fiber trim.

    We got to take the R8 GT for a spin though the Bavarian countryside and a stretch of unrestricted autobahn a couple of days before the 2010 Paris auto show. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate, with grey skies and wet pavement being the order of the day. Because of the inclement elements, Audi subbed the standard high-performance summer rubber with performance all-seasons. Given the R8 GT's limited production run, Audi can hardly be blamed for wanting to keep its few demo vehicles rubber-side down.

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2012 Audi R8 GT

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