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A Story Of Speed: The History Of The Audi R8

A Story Of Speed: The History Of The Audi R8

Luxury can come in many forms. Whether an exquisitely precise watch, an immaculately beautiful piece of jewelry, or a sprawling mansion, the expressions of luxury are as varied and different as those expressing it. Of course, one of the most powerful expressions of luxury that’s slightly less timeless but no less commanding is automobiles. From the high level of performance they exhibit to their raw street presence, luxury cars can convey a remarkable amount of sophistication and refinement. One car that conveys most elegantly is one that you can also find on streets all over the world: the Audi R8. Audi is a German automobile manufacturer and member of the Volkswagen Group that has its roots in Bavaria, Germany and is known for designing, engineering, producing, marketing and distributing luxury vehicles that blend sophisticated elegance and incredibly high performance. The origin of the company is complex, dating back to the early nineteenth century. In the early decades of the 1900s, three different auto manufacturers were working in Germany: Audiwerke, founded by engineer August Horch, and two other manufacturers known as DKW and Wanderer. In 1932, these three companies united to form the Auto Union. When economic hardships hit Germany that same decade, however, the company lost almost all of its market share, and the manufacturer name “Audi” disappeared from the public perception for decades. Audi’s modern history didn’t begin until 1960, when the company was acquired by Volkswagen from German auto manufacturer Daimler-Benz. The Audi brand was the relaunched in 1965 with the introduction of the Audi F103 series. In 1969, the company merged with a german manufacturer named NSU Motorenwerke, finally creating the company’s current form. This new Audi brand was introduced to the United States in 1970, but was originally considered by consumers to be something of a conservative make.

To remedy this, the automaker began a brand reinvention by designing a performance and rally racing car. The result of this endeavor, the Audi Quattro or Ur-Quattro, was a very successful rallying car, and in racking up a bevy of prominent wins it proved that rally cars powered by all-wheel drive were viable on the track. Because of the Quattro’s successes, Audi began to become more and more associated with innovative advances in the field of automotive technology and remarkable performance. There were multiple other methods through which Audi attempted to shake off their late 70s image of the “grandfather car.” One of the very first of these was the type 89, a sporty model with a sleek, fast look. The Audi 90, an elegant and sporty model packed with a variety of standard features and released a year after the type 89, was another attempt to shake this stereotype. Finally, Audi took it’s rebranding program to the racetrack, designing cars that were meant to chase world records in the German circuit. Throughout its history, Audi has also pioneered a few important innovations in the automotive industry. Even before it had joined with three other companies to form the Auto Union, Audi was introducing important new technologies and ideas into the auto industry, becoming the first automaker to present a production car with left-hand drive, effectively establishing the dominant side of the road that the world drives on, in 1921. The automaker also became the first company to produce a completely galvanized car, one that was much more resistant to corrosion and thus much more durable, in 1975. More recently, Audi pioneered an intelligent four-wheel drive system known as Quattro, the first all-wheel drive system developed for passenger cars, which was such a powerful performance-boosting technology that it was actually banned from the racing track. The name of the company is based on a translation of the founder’s last name. Horch is a german word that literally translates into English as “listen.” That same word in latin is best expressed by the word “Audi.” The company’s logo, a set of four rings, is meant to represent the four auto companies that banded together to form Audi’s predecessor company. The company’s official slogan is the German phrase “Vorsprung durch Technik,” which translates into English as “advancement through technology.” In the United States, however, the automaker has preferred to use the slogan “truth in engineering,” since 2007, and has avoided using the official motto since 2016.

Today the brand is one of the best-selling luxury brands in the entire world. It manufactures automobiles in seven plants across the globe, and its operating profit of 1.7 billion euros is actually 200 million greater than that of its parent company Volkswagen, which operates with a one and a half billion euro profit annually. Their cars are driven by wildly different people all over the world, ranging from private collectors to the Chinese government, which actually uses Audi as its car of choice for officials of all stripes. The automaker is also still a bold pioneer, as the Audi A8 will be the first car in the world to feature level 3 automation, meaning that the driver of would be able to completely take their hands off the wheel at speeds of under thirty-eight miles per hour (or sixty kilometers per hour) without having to perform safety checks such as touching the steering wheel every fifteen seconds. The Audi R8 is one of the company’s flagship models. The automaker sells hundreds of units every year, and in some years the count of R8’s sold climbs over one thousand. Designed from the ground up to succeed in the incredibly competitive world of motor sports, the car shares just under half of all its parts with the R8 GT3 LMS race car, and has a power to match. Indeed, the most basic design elements of the car were based on the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car, which itself was tellingly named after the famous auto race. With this spirit at its core, it should come as no surprise that when it was released, many publications believed it could be the car to finally unseat the Porsche 997, widely considered the greatest sports car ever created. This history of the Audi R8 is one of constant innovation and triumph. When it was first released, the car was the very first production car to feature full LED headlamps. Over the years since its first unveiling, the engine of the Audi R8 has been continuously upgraded, from a 4.2 liter mechanism to the even more powerful motor that drives the car today. Bridging the gap between innovation and performance was the Audi R8 E-tron, which set a track record for electric cars at the Nürburgring race track in 2012. A variety of other accolades have been awarded to the car, including Best Handling Car and Fastest Car In The World from Autocrat magazine and MSN Car of the Year. In head-to-head comparisons the R8 also has a phenomenal record, outperforming the Lamborghini Gallardo and an Aston Martin DB9 on the Top Gear test track and outracing the Lamborghini Gallardo on the Bedford Autodrome.

Powered by a 5.2 liter V 10 engine, the R8 can achieve staggering performance. This engine puts out over 600 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque, levels of performance only slightly removed from that of a supercar. Able to accelerate from zero to sixty in just a hair over three seconds, the car has a top speed of over 200 miles per hour, meaning that it can keep up with the most capable track cars. The engine is located between the rear and front axles of the car, meaning that the R8 is based on the design that can be considered the blueprint of all modern automobiles. This design puts more weight on the rear wheels of the car, which in turn allows them more traction. This allows the wheels to assist the front tires when it comes to braking, greatly reducing the risk of both rear-wheel lock and spin out. For this reason, all-wheel drive cars with this design are the preferred racing vehicles across the world. Audi’s rear wheel drive, however, is unique in that it can send all of its power to the front axle in driving situations that require it. There are also a whole host of features in the R8 that make it feel more like a professional motorsports car than a standard street-legal vehicle. the lines of the car and sleep and long, evoking the same feeling that the aerodynamics of professional motorsports cars convey, one of effortless power and speed. The magnetic ride of the car adjusts through an electronically charged magnetic fluid within the shock absorber, delivering a ride in which the comfort adjusts automatically to the road, sensing your every need. Whether you like to feel your car responding to the ground beneath you or glide along in absolute comfort, the Audi R8 will suit your needs. Finally, the all-wheel drive system replicates high-performance driving that professionals have come to expect from their vehicles. Unlike many other car companies, Audi designed its allwheel drive system around traction. Instead of sending power to wheels that are beginning to slip in order to preserve their connections to the road, the Quattro system send the most power to the wheels that have the greatest traction. This ensures that the car is always driving with the most power possible, delivering a ride similar to that which a professional driver would expect from their own track models. No matter which of the Audi R8’s five modes you choose to drive in, be it Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual, or Performance, these features allow the R8 to deliver an incredibly powerful ride and an exhilarating experience for those behind the wheel. All in all, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Jacky Ickx, a 6-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans described the R8 as “the best handling road car today”.

On the inside as well, the R8 showcases its motorsports heritage. The arc of the cockpit is based off the design of cars used for the monoposto racing club, a UK-based single-seater, open-wheeled racing club. When it comes to visibility, the windshield of the R8 is reminiscent of those of professional race cars, allowing for maximum awareness of the road. The seats of the car are sports seats, allowing maximum comfort and keeping the driver of the vehicle securely in the seat even as the car is pushed to its limit. Finally, a multifunction steering wheel including a wide variety of controls such drive selection and ignition, as well as paddle shifting, makes the wheel of the car feel almost exactly like the wheel of the R8’s racing ancestors. Nor is the story of the R8 one of brawn exclusively. A full suite of powerful and innovative technology is available to those behind the wheel, driver’s assistance technology such a rear cameras and a bevy of acoustic sensors to watch the parts of the road that you can’t. Speaking of things you can’t see, the Audi connect system that the car comes with allows it to connect to Google Earth and even become a Wi-Fi hotspot. Even the key of the R8 is an innovative piece of technology, allowing users to unlock their car and start their engine without ever reaching for their pocket. The Audi R8 can be found on streets across the country, but there’s one place in particular you can find a multitude of Audi R8’s and a wide variety of other powerful and beautiful luxury cars as well. Diamonds and Donuts, a monthly car show hosted at Diamonds by Raymond Lee in Boca Raton, Florida, is a perfectly place to see the best sports and supercars that South Florida has to offer. Stop by and get a glimpse of the most impressive vehicles roaming South Florida, including the Audi R8.

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