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4T : Rumors, Renders & Spy Photos

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10 October 2012


On two occasions I’ve asked Stephan Reil about ‘Bigfoot’. That’s not its actual name, but quattro GmbH’s product boss is so good at feigning ignorance whenever I bring up the car that I’ve chalked it up to a mystery… Audi’s equivalent to Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Nessie or Area 51. Back in May 2011 spy photographers nabbed a shot of it… one menacing-looking R8 GT sighted during manufacturer test days at the Nurburgring.

“Bigfoot” seems as fitting name as any. This R8 GT mule wore modular split 5-spoke wheels and matching rubber so wide that engineers had fitted small flaps around the lips of the fenders in order (I guess) to work the wind around their protrusion.

In 2011, this car sported numerous other notable upgrades. There was the longer racing style front chin, Gurney flaps on the rear to each side of a large (larger than production GT) trunk-mounted spoiler and larger flaps on the front chin where the R8 GT sports similar albeit more conservative winglets.

As recently as September’s Paris Motor Show Reil when blank faced and simply shrugged his shoulders over late-night drinks at the Mandarin Oriental. Not only did he claim to not know what that 2011 “Bigfoot” was, he also wasn’t that interested. To me, the latter state of aloofness suggests he knows exactly what it is.

Here we are a few weeks after Paris and another round of photos comes across from those very same spy photographers who’ve been staking out the Nurburgring for another round of development days. Guess what turns up? Yup, that’s Bigfoot… or at least an evolved version of him.

To our trained eye, Bigfoot is sporting more differences than simply its eye-catching matte blue finish. For one, that rear wing has changed to an adjustable unit. That decklid flap now goes the length of the R8’s hindquarters and the rear is totally set off by matte black vinyl wrap. At the front, a new chin spoiler is smaller and more conservative, but those front winglets look now to be R8 LMS spec. While in Europe we learned that the Audi R8 e-tron uses the same vented carbon fiber lid cover as the R8 LMS, and it sure appears that Bigfoot has been fitted with one of these as well.

What’s puzzling about Bigfoot is why it’s showing up now. The car does not show other R8 facelift cues you’d expect were Audi testing a new generation GT. That the new R8 has been introduced, there’d be not much to hide were they to be testing a new R8 GT… and frankly this car is much more aggressively built than we’d expect for simplay a facelifted GT.

So What Is It?
Back in 2011 we said we weren’t sure. Frankly, we’re still not. Clearly this car is from quattro GmbH… indicated by the visible license plate frame with their logo, the HN (Heilbronn) tags and its presence on manufacturer test days.

Back in 2011 we theorized that this could be a test car for some sort of R8 GT plus, beyond an R8 GT, or maybe a test mule of one of the lightweight CFRP prototype chassis developed by Audi with carbon fiber roof, firewall, floor and more. As with the previous Bigfoot, this doesn’t look like a racecar like the R8 LMS, but rather an edgier road car.

So what do you think? We’re asking you, and we’re expecting more of an answer than we’ve gotten from Stephan Reil.

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