Audi’s R8 was a landmark car. The V10 variant was even good enough to make you think twice about that Gallardo, but we all knew it could have been wilder were it not for the internal politics that insist the Lamborghini stays on top of the pile. Tuners are there to make that all better.
Enter PPI, a relative newcomer to the tuning scene that has managed to make serious waves with its latest creation. With 800 hp courtesy of a twin-supercharger conversion from partner Novidem, this is a car that will thrust Dr. Benjamin Abraham’s company right into the limelight.
When you’re nestled in the carbon bucket driver seat, the Razor GTR 800 feels like home. It’s immaculately dressed in Alcantara, leather piping and a carbon pack so good that Audi took inspiration for its own.
The new bodywork helps cut 500 pounds from the R8’s curb weight, which is massive. Most tuners struggle to remove half that amount and at first it sounds optimistic, but the team weighed each and every part on a local recycling company’s scales and kept a spreadsheet to show the improvements. You can feel it in the car, too.
So all that weight stripped from the frame gives the Razor a power-to-weight ratio far in excess of the Lamborghini Gallardo, even the Aventador for that matter. Just look at the numbers and the Razor suddenly joins the elite of the hypercar world.
It’s a simple necessity, too, as the dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox couldn’t handle the torque, but this car comes with the metal-gated manual six-speed, with strengthened First and Second gear ratios. Oh joy of joys!
I fire it up and the gravitas of this car hits home as the engine settles into a burbling, low-rolling thunder. I have to lift the front end to join the road, and then to pull off the road, pretty much everywhere to be honest. This high-downforce setup comes at the cost of practicality, but find a nice stretch of tarmac and such things cease to matter. Because given a healthy dose of throttle, this car is a bloody rocket.
Even with the manual ’box it blasts past 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. The slowest part of the car is the driver, as I slot each gear deliberately before unleashing the next wave. The ratios are strengthened to cope with the added power, but this is a one-off, company CEO and racing veteran Richard Helfer is watching, and I know how precious this car is to the firm. PPI is a small company; this car represents a massive gamble and an idiot journalist graunching the gears would just not be cool.
The torque is linear thanks to the twin centrifugal superchargers, but there’s just so damned much of it that it’s hard to keep the car in check and constant acceleration gradually tries to press my head through the holes in the seat. It’s supremely, scary fast, a borderline racing car for the road, and the throaty roar and supercharger whine screaming through that dual-inlet sport exhaust is even more intoxicating than that of the Gallardo V10 that always left R8s in the shade. It’ll do 350 km/h too—217 mph—although that’s borderline academic here in the real world.
The twin supercharger system is trick in the extreme and took four years to develop. The two centrifugal superchargers are driven by a magnetic clutch that disconnects during gentle town driving to keep the car under control. It won’t engage until the engine is properly warmed through. The forced induction even comes with a charge cooling system to cool the air leaving the supercharger, and the chargers are positioned on the side of the engine bay to prevent heat soak murdering the engine. They run at 0.9 bar of pressure.
Of course the internals needed some work and uprated piston rings, connecting rods and more are all part of the package. All this allowed PPI to actually lower the compression ratio to 9.2:1, from 12.5:1 for the stock V10.
It’s slick, way slick. But the blower system isn’t the only thing. The brake calipers are one-offs like the car. The wheels too. Almost nothing comes off the shelf as PPI went all out to produce the ultimate R8.
Then there’s the aero, which really seems to work, although we can’t push hard enough on the roads around Stuttgart to truly test the theory. Apparently, the first time the car went into the wind tunnel they found the rear wing, which was designed with pen and paper before it hit the computers, actually improved airflow over the front of the car.
American surgeon Dr. Abraham and his twin brother started PPI Automotive Design after a lifetime of modifying their own cars. The pair fell in love with tuning, and Germany, when they hit Europe as teenagers, where they organized meetings with the likes of Alois Ruf, posing as potential buyers, hiding their backpacks before heading inside. For the record, they did later go back for a Ruf conversion and Alois is a friend to this day.
The brothers both have immense respect for ABT and MTM, too. Indeed, look closely and you’ll see a PPI front splitter on the polished MTM R8 that’s also now doing the rounds. But they felt that Audi needed a wilder side, a more extreme visual treatment than the other tuners provide, as well as brutal speed, and that’s certainly what they’ve come up with.
Both brothers come from science backgrounds, though, and it wasn’t enough just to look the part. They literally stripped the R8 down to the bare bones and analyzed the whole car before reconstructing it in their own image. This went to a near molecular level, and while the engine work is the obvious headline, get them talking and they’ll tell you how the wing mirror on the stock car is borderline retarded in its design, but they opted to keep it and profile the air intakes to match.
The bodywork is all carbon, everything bar the roof and the doors; that keeps things simple for the crash regulations, too. And as well as looking cruel, it generates such massive downforce that the first front wing ripped clean off the car.
The rear wing was also a first for the wind-tunnel operatives; as mentioned, it somehow helped the airflow over the front. Two huge vents in the rear create a vacuum that drags hot air from the engine bay and there’s an optional slatted rear screen for those that want the full effect. It isn’t just a show thing, the slats and vents help reduce the temperature in the engine bay by up to 40 degrees and anybody that has felt the power sap from their car after 10 minutes on track will know this is a good, good thing.
The MAG9 wheels are magnesium and come with a carbon rim, reducing the weight of the front rims to 17 pounds and the rears to 18. It’s borderline obsessive, but undeniably brilliant.
Of course, this level of tech doesn’t come cheap. Dressed this way the car costs $450,000, and there will only be 10. It’s developed to within an inch of its life and the mild-mannered R8 has turned into Superman with PPI’s help.
One thing is for sure; for a fledgling company, this is a hell of a statement of intent.
PPI Razor GTR 800
5.2-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve. Novidem twin centrifugal superchargers, charge coolers, carbon-fiber airbox, sport exhaust, software
Adjustable suspension lowering up to 60mm, front hydraulic lift kit
Custom calipers, carbon-ceramic rotors
MAG9 magnesium/carbon, 9x19 (f), 11x19 (r) Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, 235/35 (f), 305/30 (r)
PPI front spoiler, decklid, rear wing
Peak Power: 801 hp @ 7500 rpm
Peak Torque: 634 lb-ft @ 5910 rpm
0-60 mph: 2.9 sec.
Top Speed: 217 mph