The Abt XGT is a literal roadgoing racecar, designed and developed by the knowledgeable tuners at Abt Sportsline. Interested? You should be.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really understood the Audi R8. Supercars in general have always slightly perplexed me, but I can understand the appeal of a Ferrari or McLaren for the way they drive. And, if you’re a certain type of person, I’m sure there’s something enticing about the bravado of a Lamborghini. But the R8 just never seemed special enough to me. I can appreciate when people tell me it’s great to drive, and it’s undoubtedly a sleek looking thing. But why would you have one over the other supercars on the market? For me, it’s never done the one thing that I find most important in a car – spark emotion. The Audi R8 has always seemed a bit too clinical from afar, and dare I say it, verges on being characterless. But this, however… this is a whole different story.
Getting to know Abt Sportsline
Before I go on to sing the Abt XGT’s praises, it’s probably worth bringing you up to speed with who Abt Sportsline are. They’re a big enough name in the car tuning scene that you might have heard of them before, but either way, their heritage is something that’s well worth covering again. I first became aware of Abt through their exploits in the DTM touring car championship throughout the 2000s, but the company has been going (in its current iteration) since 1991. Over the years, the Abt family forged a strong relationship with Audi, earning factory racing contracts and helping the likes of Laurent Aiello, Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider on their way to championship glory in Germany’s premier racing series. In later years, Abt Sportsline added Audi’s Formula E project to their to-do-list, winning the 2017/18 championship with Lucas di Grassi behind the wheel.
All the while, as well as being an elite racing team, Abt has positioned itself as one of the leading European tuning houses for road cars. As you can imagine, most of their products are for cars with the four rings emblazoned on their grille or hood, but they’ve also developed all kinds of kit for Audi’s other VAG stablemates; Cupra, Skoda, and Volkswagen.
In a sense then, Abt Sportsline is the perfect company to undertake a project like the XGT. They know exactly what a top tier racecar feels like, but they also know exactly what a vehicle needs to be usable, enjoyable even, on public roads. So, let’s see what they’ve come up with.
Abt XGT styling and aerodynamics
The first thing you’ll notice about this car is its body. Despite clearly being an R8, its silhouette might seem a bit foreign to you at first, and there’s good reason for that. See, this car is based on the Audi R8 LMS GT2, which is a customer-focused racecar. In a bid to separate it visually from the more ‘professional’ LMS GT3 racecar, the GT2’s roof follows the lines of the convertible road car rather than the coupe. But make no mistake, this is no drop top. Regardless, that is why the rear of the roofline seems to fall away much more abruptly than normal, and when applied to something as aggressive-looking as this, I think it works tremendously well. That in-your-face air intake is the perfect enhancement too, reminiscent of the early-noughties Honda NSX racers that competed in JGTC.
Elsewhere, the aerodynamic devices found on the Abt XGT mirror those of the GT2 car, so every vent, fin or duct you see here serves a functional purpose.
Abt XGT powertrain and performance
Sticking true to the competitive machine its based upon (and the regular R8 road cars, for that matter), the Abt XGT has a rear-mounted 5.2-liter V10 heart, which produces a beefy 640hp. It tips the scales at 1400kg (~3000 lbs) – which to be honest, is a bit chunky for a racecar – but that’s still good enough for a power-to-weight ratio of 2.4kg/hp. Plus, it’s rear-wheel drive rather thanrelying on Quattro. Compared to the equivalent Audi R8 Spyder V10 Performance RWD road car, the XGT has an extra 78 horses up its sleeve, which is definitely a gain you’d feel behind the wheel.
A 7-speed S-Tronic double clutch gearbox keeps those ponies in line, which is essentially an automatic DSG with a manual ‘mode’. Via the driveline and differential, the power eventually makes its way to the forged Abt wheels which come wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber. Depending on the setting of the rear wing, the XGT will top out at 310km/h (192mph), but if that doesn’t sound fast enough to you for some mad reason, you should keep in mind that this car is all about acceleration and power delivery through corners rather than simple drag racing.
What does it take to turn a racecar into a road car?
A lot, as it turns out. It’s taken around 2 years for Abt Sportsline to turn this pipe dream into a reality, and they’ve faced all sorts of technological hurdles along the way. The car’s fueling system and instrument panel both required revisions for civilian use, and several new creature comforts have made their way into the car too. This includes a handbrake, reversing camera, central locking system, and immobilizer. The racecar control panel is another element which has changed, now burdened with far more rudimentary uses. You can use it to control the electronically adjustable wing mirrors, air conditioning, and indicators.
Elsewhere, the racecar’s bespoke exhaust has taken on a revised form so that it passes emissions tests, and the car now also adheres to public crash safety standards. Even the finer details, such as brake noise levels, have been taken care of.
That’s not to say it’s lost its thoroughbred DNA though. The core GT2 strands remain in place, and a quartet of highly experienced drivers have helped develop the car over the span of thousands of kilometers. At the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Sachsenring, and Hockenheim circuits, current DTM stalwarts Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller joined former DTM champion Martin Tomczyk and successful endurance racer Frank Stippler. Between the four of them, they’ve come up with a suspension, steering, and power delivery set-up that “cannot be compared to any other road car.”
Lofty claims from the Audi-backed men, but perhaps the confidence isn’t entirely unwarranted.
Abt XGT pricing & availability
To get your hands on an Abt XGT, you’re going to have to have deep pockets and be willing to empty them quickly. Only 99 examples will enter public hands, each currently sitting as rolling shells, waiting for individual client spec requests.
As for the cost? Well, it’s high. Abt Sportsline prices the XGT at €598,000, which currently equates to $652,777, or £519,243. To put that into perspective, a genuine Audi R8 LMS GT2 racecar costs €338,000 from Audi Sport Customer Racing. But to be fair, you can’t drive one of those on the road, and you’ll need a team of mechanics to help you run it on a track. When you put it like that, the XGT’s price tag suddenly feels a lot more justifiable. Or at least as justifiable as half a mill on a car can be…