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First drive: Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi R8 V10 plus
Headlining the new Audi R8 line-up is the screaming fast V10 plus model. Lot of want.

 



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Audi R8 V10 plus

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

A glance won't tell you that there's an all-new Audi R8 in town, but the German company has moved its distinctive four-wheel drive sports car game on with the introduction of the second generation model tested here. For now it's an all-V10 engine affair and the two-car range is topped by the astounding V10 plus model. Ever wondered if the R8 should be considered a supercar? Wonder no more.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi R8 V10 plus
Pricing: starts from £119,500 on-the-road; as tested £134,500
Engine: 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic, quattro four-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, two-seat coupé
CO2 emissions: 287g/km (Band M, £505 per year)
Combined economy: 23.0mpg
Top speed: 205mph
0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds
Power: 610hp at 8,250rpm
Torque: 560Nm at 6,500rpm

What's this?

It's the second generation Audi R8 sports car, though we're tempted to now call it a supercar, as the V8-engined entry-level model is no more and both cars in the line-up are powered by a screaming 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine. The standard version makes 540hp and 540Nm of torque, while the V10 plus reviewed here produces an even more eye-opening 610hp, backed up by 560Nm of torque. As before, it's a gloriously naturally aspirated unit and the redline is set at 8,700rpm. Sadly there's no manual gearbox option, but the seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic is an impressive thing, and of course quattro four-wheel drive is standard.

In comparison to its predecessor, the new R8 has a considerably stiffer body shell (now employing carbon fibre as well as aluminium) and it's lighter - to the tune of 40kg in this plus model, which is also 40kg less than the standard R8 V10. You can tell the plus model by its Gloss Carbon components on the outside - the large fixed rear spoiler, rear diffuser, door mirrors, 'sideblades' and front lip spoiler. The shape of the sideblade is probably the most obvious differentiator between the old car and the new, as it's now a two-piece design, though it should be noted that the body is entirely new. Our test cars were fitted with the optional laser headlights, as well, which are astounding, though a full-LED set-up is standard.

The interior of the new R8 is considerably different to its predecessor's, though still a two-seat layout focused on the driver. The adoption of the Audi TT's Virtual Cockpit enhances that and every switch and button is beautifully damped. It's a gorgeous cabin that feels more special than before. A new flat-bottomed steering wheel helps differentiate it further from lesser Audis and there's a clear link to the company's motorsport division in the addition of new controls to the steering wheel itself. All R8s get the big red engine start button and another to choose between the drive select modes, but the V10 plus also has a 'performance' combined button and rotary control, which allows quick access to Dry, Wet and Snow modes for the stability control. A similar round button on the plus model switches the sports exhaust between normal and Sport settings.

Prices for the new Audi R8 start at £119,500 for the regular V10 variant, which sees it undercut the Porsche 911 Turbo (with the PDF auto) and the McLaren 540C, though it's a chunk of change more than the new Jaguar F-Type R AWD Coupé and the Mercedes-AMG GT S. Audi pitches the higher-performance V10 plus up against the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, Porsche 911 Turbo S and McLaren 570S and at a starting price of £134,500 it undercuts them all by a useful margin - that'll soon be eaten up by expensive options no doubt.

How does it drive?

On day one of the international launch for the new Audi R8 we spent most of our time on the road in the regular version, albeit one with choice options such as carbon ceramic brakes, dynamic steering and magnetic ride control fitted, which must make it at least as expensive as an entry-level V10 plus. At no stage did we think "this could do with a little more power", but on day two, on the same route in the V10 plus, there was a tangible increase in performance and focus from the 5.2-litre V10, aided no doubt by the weight reduction and the more direct feel endowed on the car by its unique suspension settings. It's definitely the one to go for if you're buying an R8 to be driven with any gusto whatsoever.

Undoubtedly a major part of this car's appeal is the high-revving V10 engine. It's simply sublime, whether you're ambling along at part-throttle or taking every opportunity you can to seek out that 610hp peak at 8,250rpm. In spite of this nature it's highly tractable at low revs too and makes an enthralling range of sounds from idle to the 8,700rpm redline. Choose the Dynamic mode from drive select and the gratuitous throttle blips on gear down-shifts are complemented by pops and burbles on the overrun that are highly addictive. This is a car you'll change gear in often just to hear the noise the engine makes.

And what a fantastic piece of engineering the transmission is. We're sad that the six-speed manual gearbox of old - with its satisfying open alloy gate - is no more for the R8, but the dual-clutch automatic is a wonder. It's a seven-speed S tronic unit that can smooth out changes whether you're battling with city traffic or conducting full-throttle acceleration runs on track. Some will find it a little too perfect, though on the road it helps that the car's stability isn't upset by gear changes when you're really pushing on. Response to the steering wheel mounted paddle shifts is instantaneous, adding to the experience. The dynamic steering is a variable ratio affair, which helps with stability and comfort on the motorway, manoeuvring at low speed and tackling tight and twisty roads in the middle. Not everyone likes such systems, which is probably why it's optional, but we got on well with it.

In terms of damping and body control, there's not a massive gulf between the Sport and Comfort settings, with a little less jiggling over rough surfaces when in the latter. The plus model is certainly sharper with a tad less body roll when you're pushing on, but both exhibit great body control and composure whether you're exiting a tight corner at full chat or you're braking hard into a switchback. The carbon ceramic brakes are immense, though the pedal feel was a little odd, as if the servo assistance was adjusting as you press the pedal. Those that love the feel of a rear-drive sports car may take a while to gel with the quattro four-wheel drive system, even if it does by default send 60 per cent of the engine's output to the rear wheels. This isn't a natural drift machine. Indeed, optimistic corner entry speeds are signalled by a fraction of stabilising understeer, but even lifting off the gas at that stage does little to upset the car's composure. It just tucks in, allowing you to exit the corner in a neutral stance - and at great speed. A new front-mounted multi-plate clutch controls the split between the axles and it's cooled so it can manage 100 per cent of the engine torque at the front wheels if needs be. At the rear there's also a mechanical limited slip differential.

Verdict

On the face of it, it's more of the same from the second generation Audi R8, but that's no bad thing at all. The new body is lighter, stiffer and though the style has evolved, it's dramatic by any measure. The regular V10 version is a brilliant car that does nearly everything and looks a million pounds, but the V10 plus ramps up the driving experience tangibly and it's the one we'd heartily recommend buyers to stump up the extra cash for.

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 - 14 Jul 2015









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2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.



2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi R8 V10 plus. Image by Audi.
 






 

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