Late last year, Motor Trend recorded a 0-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds for the Audi R8 – this despite Audi itself claiming the supercar completes the sprint in 3.2 seconds.
Why the disparity? Well, apart from human error (which any tester worth their salt will run multiple tests to try to avoid) it could just be that Audi is lowballing.
Okay, not lowballing, quite, but according to Audi Sport’s head of technical development, Stephan Reil, the brand deliberately quotes conservative numbers to keep buyers from being disappointed and journalists from getting too snarky.
“And the reason we are conservative with these numbers is simple,” said Reil, speaking to Australia’s CarAdvice. “I simply don’t want to hear, when you guys write ‘well, they claim 3.9, but we got 4.0’.”
According to Reil, the practice has been going on since he started in his position nearly 20 years ago and goes on to this day with the RS5.
“So, if we say 3.9 seconds, you will measure, maybe, 3.7 if the conditions are fine, probably 3.8, but even under the worst conditions, you’ll do it in 3.9 seconds. But you will not find a 4.0,” said Reil.
SEE ALSO: 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe Review
Reil also revealed that Audi kept the RS5 producing just 450 hp, but upped the torque to 442 lb-ft for the customer’s benefit.
“Let me put it this way: The customer buys horsepower, but what he drives is torque,” he said. “And what’s important is how the engine delivers that torque. Does it come early, does it come with some lag, or does it come the moment you give it some throttle?”
So Audi focused on giving the new RS5 more torque (100 lb-ft more than the outgoing model) instead of more hp. And with the torque peaking between 1,900 and 5,000 rpm, it’s available from way down low.
That’s thanks to the turbochargers’ location: between the cylinder banks. With less piping and better flow the driver gets better throttle response and minimal lag. Reil admits, though, that there’s still room for improvement.
“What we have done with the new RS5 is the best we can do right at this time, but of course technology gets old quickly, so we will be able to do better once new systems arrive, such as 48 Volt systems, which we will be able to fit into cars like this one – otherwise it’s more suited to SUVs like our SQ7 at the moment.”
A version of this story originally appeared on Fourtitude