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First drive: 2019 Audi R8 Performance. Image by Audi.

First drive: 2019 Audi R8 Performance
A raft of updates mark out the 2019 Audi R8, giving us another excuse to test drive the V10 supercar.

 



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2019 Audi R8 Performance

5 5 5 5 5

Sure, the 2019 Audi R8 has a new look, more power, even more customisation options and an enhanced chassis, but all that really matters is that it continues to feature a charismatic naturally-aspirated V10 engine in the middle. Praise be.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi R8 V10 Performance Coupe
Pricing: 141,200 on-the-road as tested; R8 starts at 128,200 (provisional figures)
Engine: 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupe
Top speed: 205mph
0-62mph: 3.1 seconds
Power: 620hp at 8,000-8,250rpm
Torque: 580Nm at 6,500rpm

What's this?

Our first drive in the 2019MY Audi R8, specifically the range-topping Performance model. As before, both it and the entry-level version are powered by a sensational naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10, though Audi Sport has done some tweaking, including the fitment of particulate filters to pass the latest emissions legislation, but there's also more performance on tap. The standard R8 gets 570hp and 550Nm of torque, while the Performance edition is turned up to 620hp and 580Nm. Thanks to that little lot, and standard quattro four-wheel drive of course, the R8 Performance dispatches 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds and tops out at a rather serious 205mph. The seven-speed S tronic gearbox remains, with a few changes to its calibration and to the physical driveline - resulting in a reduction in weight.

Other than the engine updates, you can see the visual makeover for yourself, most obviously at the front, where a wider, flatter and sharper grille gives the R8 a new look. It's complemented by new bumpers front and back, new wheels and other bits and bobs. Buyers also get the option of fresh new styling packs to help personalise their cars.

Prices have yet to be set in stone, but we're told that the R8 V10 Coupe will be about 128,200 on-the-road, with the Performance model costing 141,200. Both versions can be had in the open-topped Spyder body style too, at a premium of 8,800.

How does it drive?

The Performance model is as mighty as ever, which should be no surprise given the relatively modest updates. Time on track in the new R8 served as a reminder that, while it can play the role of the everyday supercar with quattro four-wheel drive and an easy-to-live-with cabin, it is also seriously playful when driven fast. In that situation, you don't miss the turbocharged mid-range torque of its rivals, as it's no chore to flick up and down the gearbox (though we'd like if Audi replaced the plastic gearchange paddles with metal or carbon ones) to keep the V10 singing. And sing it does, a melodious tune at low to mid-range revs and then a scream to its 8,700rpm rev limiter. Not that you'll find yourself hitting that too often, as the rev counter lights up in plenty of time to suggest it's time to change up.

Unsurprisingly, the R8 gets off the line with little fuss and a lot of forward motion. It doesn't take long to get to a corner, in which case, you'll be glad of the excellent carbon ceramic brakes (standard on the Performance variant). The pedal feel is just right, the stopping power never in doubt and the stability very good. Saying that, the R8 moves around on the track perhaps more than you might expect, demanding its driver to get involved in the process rather than doing it all for them.

The direct steering has plenty of feedback through the (too-thick) wheel rim so you can feel when you're pushing the high limits of the tyres. On track, set to the performance 'dry' driving mode, there's little or no sense of the possibility of understeer. Indeed, this car's natural tendency is toward oversteer, something that is exaggerated when the optional dynamic steering is fitted (it's an active variable ratio system), helping the nose dart into a corner and the rest of the car rotate. It takes a little adjustment to the characteristic, but once you do, it's a cinch to get into a flowing rhythm, skating on the edge of grip without summoning up the intervention of the ESP system. That's very well-judged, allowing enough slip angle to be fun, but with a quick-acting safety net if you overstep the mark or run out of talent.

Through all this, you find yourself immersed in the noise from the engine and the sensations coming at you through the steering wheel and seat, making the R8 a rewarding track car. Naturally, you can't drive with quite such abandon on the public road, but there's no doubt that it will remain a ballistic way to get across country on interesting roads, even in poor weather.

Verdict

In a world of turbocharged V8s (and a flat-six), the Audi R8's naturally aspirated V10 remains a unique proposition (Lamborghini aside) and it sets the tone for an exciting, yet usable supercar. The updates for 2019 weren't strictly necessary, but welcome all the same, especially as their introduction gave us an excuse to remind ourselves what makes the R8 so special.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 18 Nov 2018









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2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.

2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance. Image by Audi.








 

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