Any sports car that wants to be taken seriously needs to do a timed lap of Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife. That’s why Audi brought its all-electric R8 e-tron to the “Green Hell” to have a go. The electrified R8 went around the 12.92-mile course in eight minutes, nine seconds, setting a record for electric cars.
A lap of the Nurburgring, where most car companies go to test their high performance models, is a great way to show that an electric sports car can stand up to the petrol-powered competition. Since the e-tron is based on a regular R8, it makes for a pretty direct point of comparison.
How did the electric machine stack up? With an exact time of 8:09.099, the R8 e-tron came in just behind its gasoline-powered counterpart. In 2007, an R8 with the 430 horsepower, 317 pound-foot V8 went around in 8:05, in an attempt supervised by Germany’s Sport Auto magazine. A more powerful V10 R8 GT did a 7:34.
To turn an R8 into an e-tron, Audi removes that V8 and replaces it with two electric motors, making a combined 376 hp and 605 lb-ft. A t-shaped battery pack occupies the transmission tunnel and some space in front of the rear axle. The car weighs 3,924 pounds; a stock R8 4.2 weighs 3,605 lbs.
The production version of the R8 e-tron will have a limited top speed of 125 mph; for the Nurburgring run, Audi raised the top speed to 155 mph. With the lower speed limit engaged, the Audi lapped the track in 8:26.096. The e-tron’s range is estimated at 134 miles, but probably not when driven at record-setting speeds. Luckily, the test car only needed to cover 12.92 miles.
The R8 e-tron clocked in just out of range of today’s supercars, most of which can lap the track in under eight minutes. The 8:09 time puts the e-tron in the range of older supercars like the Ferrari F355 and Honda (Acura) NSX, or cushier GT cars like the Aston Martin DB9. The e-tron’s time did set a world record for production electric vehicles at the Nurburgring.
The current record for a production-ready car, 7:11.57, is held by the Gumpert Apollo Speed, which has the same 4.2-liter V8 as the regular R8, albeit with much more power. Stretching the limits of “production car” is the Radical SR8LM, which clocked a 6:48 but has no roof or doors.