The Audi R8 is a bona fide supercar similar to its thrilling little TT brother; the visual overhaul cuts deeper than it first appears. Having set such a thrilling template with both cars, revolution is largely impossible; but the new R8’s face is more aggressive, the various air intakes and vents on the front and side both functional and visually more powerful, with the head and tail lights now both doing a job beyond mere illumination.
The previous “entry-level” V8 has gone; and now there is a choice between two versions of Audi’s fabulous 5.2-litre V10, the gentler of which runs 532 bhp, while the V10 Plus makes 602 bhp. That translates to a top speed of 205 mph, and a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds, making it the fastest road-going Audi yet, not to mention one of the fastest anythings ever. Crucially, this engine is also normally aspirated, so it produces its grunt without recourse to turbocharging, the route pretty much everyone else has adopted in pursuit of power and lower emissions and fuel consumption.
It’s also an astonishingly-easy car to drive very quickly, even in V10 Plus guise, and arguably the best-sorted mid-engined car ever. This is a good and bad thing, depending on how adrenalized you like your driving experience to be. In standard set-up, the R8 will rip along straights with easily-enough pace to satisfy any sane human being, and maintain it even through ever-tightening corners. It has such Herculean levels of grip that your insides will surrender long before the car does. It also doesn’t deliver its peak torque until 6,500 rpm, and the rev limiter doesn’t make itself felt until 2,000 rpm beyond that, so there’s a lot of activity at the top end.
The overall dynamic picture is slightly obfuscated by the various different driving modes and set-ups available: there’s variable ratio steering and adjustable dampers, while the standard Drive Select lets you tweak gearbox, throttle and chassis settings. On top of that, you can dial back the ESC stability and traction algorithms for maximum tomfoolery/entertainment.
Factor in the ingenious configurable “virtual cockpit” – its Nvidia processors can perform 8.5 billion calculations per second, and the sat nav display is almost good enough to render individual blades of grass – and you have a car that, for all that it makes no major demands even of a supercar rookie, still rewards serious acclimatization.
What separates the V10 plus from the standard V10, Audi gave the full-fat model some carbon-fiber accessories: a fixed rear wing, door mirrors and side blades. And carbon-ceramic brakes of course. ENGINE V10, 5,204 CC, 602bhp Performance Top Speed, 205mph, 0-62 mph in 3.2 seconds. Price $134,500 Economy 23 mph contact www.audi.com
The Audi’s is definitely one that makes an almost irresistible case for self-shifters. But MONARCH is still convinced that the trade manual box is set for a high-profile comeback, not in the least because it already attracts a premium on certain used high performance cars. You heard it here first.