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Fourtitude posts a great comparison of the "Concept" and "Production" version of the R8. said:
For the second day in a row, Audi engineers from quattro GmbH have been spied testing the new R8 production car at the Nurburgring. Yesterday, a matte black and polka dot liveried car (license # HN 06918) was seen rounding the ‘Ring, while today another example (license # HN VQ 400) in a blue hue not far from the Le Mans concept car’s light blue color was even spotted sitting still with the rear engine cover up. While sadly no engine shots were attained, these photographs reveal even more accurately just how little the R8 will differ aesthetically from the original Le Mans concept car.

The most apparent differences can be seen at the front, where the concept’s LED headlights give way to projector style headlights containing what appears to be amber turnsignals mounted inboard from the main Xenon headlight projector. Much of the headlights have been disguised on both mules, though the headlight design appears to maintain a similar shape to the concept – not as rounded at points closest to the grille, and more straight along the bottom edges.

The grille itself appears to be even shorter than that of the concept, with the license plate segment mounted higher for increased lower airflow. The blue test mule has dark black stripes along the V-shaped body segmentation on the hood to help hide the car’s true lines, but it appears the hood panel breaks from the front fascia higher on the car than on the Le Mans concept. In the photos, it appears to meet the grille area at its top right and left hand corners rather than down on the side where the cross-bar plate holder resides on the Le Mans. From the side profile, the gap instead carries the line of the hood on its way forward.

Could the R8 forego the cross-plate holder entirely? It’s possible that the positioning of that element may not be final as it clearly doesn’t match the lines of the panel gaps like it does on the concept. Also, a wide-open grille like the one seen on the latest production allroad would look handsome on this much more aggressive snout.

Of course, a test mule rarely wears any badges that would help identify its origins. Still, it’s a safe bet that the R8 will wear its rings above the grille ‘Silver Arrow’ style, on the tip of the hood as they appear on the concept.

Interestingly, the large gaping inlets to the left and right of the central shield grille each lose a slat, from four on the Le Mans to three on the R8. The move is mirrored at the rear, going from five on the concept down to four for the production car.

Few other changes appear to exist at the rear. Elements such as the motorized rear wing, quad ring LED taillights and vertical vents on each side of the rear glass are all retained. The only serious change, relocation of the dual central exhaust to quad tips mounted two at each corner, are easily spotted on the test mules.

On the sides, changes are tougher to identify. The R8 looks like it makes use of larger exterior rearview mirrors – those on the Le Mans possibly a little to aggressive for production. A subtle handle mechanism has been integrated into the door along the top of the gaping side inlet ducts where no door handles appeared on the Le Mans.

Harder to identify is just what will happen with the controversial aluminum side segment of the concept. The gaps make it appear as if the panel will remain, at least separate from the rear quarter panel. However, the blue ‘HN VQ 400’ car that tested today had been color-matched in that area up to the window line, and the rest was painted black to further disguise the profile window shape.

Will the R8 get a TT Coupe-style changing of the rear windows for visibility’s sake? Will the controversial aluminum panel be muted in body color or disappear altogether? It’s hard to tell from the shots we’ve seen thus far.

Expect the finalized R8 to appear possibly as early as June’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s possible the dominating R8 racecar will kick off its official retirement getting a send-off from the production car that bears its name. If not in Le Mans, the car will most likely make its debut at the Paris Auto Show in September.

Current rumors around engine choices seem to be centered on the 4.2 FSI V8 engine from the RS 4 and the 5.2-liter FSI V10 from the S8 and S6.

Will there be any other engines? Less likely rumors abound, from a twin-turbocharged 10-cylinder as seen in the Le Mans concept to a turbocharged variant of the 4.2 FSI. These are harder to believe, as they’d make the R8 more of a competitor to the Gallardo, itself due for some power upgrades soon.

Rather, one earlier rumor in the press is one that seems to make more sense. Several months ago, it was reported that a Gallardo had been spied testing in Sant Agata Bolognese, sounding not so much like a Gallardo and more like a diesel. Considering the public relations wake left behind the new R10 racecar, market conditions couldn’t be better for Audi to build such a car. Whether or not they choose to act on that remains to be seen.

If they are considering diesel, then a quick look at current engine choices also makes things interesting. Theoretically, the common rail 4.2 V8 TDI from the A8 could fit, as could the V10 from the Volkswagen Touareg, though the latter isn’t yet developed with common rail design – technology Audi says all of their TDIs will now adopt.

More interesting is a potential V12. It’s been said that Audi had several engine choices that it could have developed for the R10 - from V8 and V10 to V12. The company chose to go with V12, and its reasons for doing so aren’t as clear. Could this have been done to segway to a new top-of-the-line V12 TDI engine bound for production cars like the A8 and possibly the R8? While the theory is pure conjecture and not based on any internal source, the idea of such a car is certainly interesting to imagine.
Pictures and full article available here:
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