Paris Auto Show: Audi R8 and Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

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Sports Car Concepts Reach Production
Three years ago, in September 2003, there were two head-turning concept stars at the Frankfurt auto show. This year, the Paris auto show (Mondial de l’Automobile) hosted introductions of both in production form. Both are low volume propositions, both borrow chassis from related low-volume models, both offer 420HP V8 engines, but each takes a different personality. One is the German all-wheel-drive, mid-engine Audi R8 and the other the front-engine, rear-drive Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
The good news is that North America will see the R8. Unfortunately, the Alfa is a tease. Though the brand intends to return to the North American market, the limited-edition 8C is not among the expected products.

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Audi’s R8 Revealed
The Audi Le Mans Quattro concept View image from 2003 commemorated the beginning of Audi’s dominance at Le Mans, where Audi has won five times. The Le Mans Quattro concept developed into a production car, the R8. The R8 is Audi’s first mid-engined sports car, of course featuring quattro four-wheel drive (standard torque split is 44 percent front/56 percent rear). The engine is the direct-injection, 420HP 4.2L DOHC 32v V8. The body uses Audi’s Aluminum Space Frame concept, and the chassis was developed along with the Lamborghini Gallardo. In Germany, the order books opened on September 28, 2006, with the first European deliveries during the first half of 2007.

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Among the firsts for the R8 will be the option for ordering LED headlights, beginning in late 2007. LEDs have been used in production taillights, but prior to this not for production headlights. The standard car gets a leather and alcantara interior. Navigation and MMI are optional as well, and the interior looks crisp and clean. A smaller MMI knob and round HVAC controls in the center stack complement the large gauges in the gauge cluster, as creature comforts in this driver’s car are not left behind.
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Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Beautiful, Italian, fast, red, two-seater. If not a Ferrari, must be an Alfa. While Alfa Romeo is working on a return to the North American market, it may not include this mouthwatering piece of work. The 8C borrows a name from Alfa’s history (honoring both a V8 from the Twenties and Thirties and Alfa’s racing history) and a platform from Maserati. The sleek carbon fiber body goes over a 420HP 4.7L V8 mated to a six-speed manumatic transmission.
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The production car has changed little between the 2003 concept View image and now. It was certainly one of the stars of the Paris show this year, swamped and kept in an enclosed stand with long lines to get up close during press days.
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