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New Audi V10 R8ed. Image by Conor Twomey.

New Audi V10 R8ed
Audi puts a V10 into the back of the R8 to create its fastest coupé yet. But is it worth the extra expense?


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| First Drive | Granada, Spain | Audi R8 V10 |

Audi has had phenomenal success with its R8 model, the stunning two-seat, mid-engined coupé unquestionably being the car of the moment. The Ingolstadt firm has finally gotten around to putting its V10 engine into it too, giving the R8 even more pace to compete against its supercar rivals.

In the Metal

The Audi R8 remains one of the most striking cars you can currently buy. Thanks to its Audi TT-esque cues and unique signatures like the contrasting 'sideblades' the R8 is a stunning-looking machine. With the V10 model, Audi's enhancements are subtle but effective: at the front there are new fully LED headlamps, which frame a high gloss grille and air intakes. On the front wings there are V10 badges and those contrasting sideblades feature a kink to feed more air into the mid-mounted 5.2-litre V10 engine.

Expelling that V10's gasses are oval exhaust pipes, while the panel between them and the taillights are restyled too. 'Y-design' alloy wheels complete the V10-engined R8's design changes on the exterior. Inside, little has changed: there's a V10 badge on the instruments, an improved stereo and satnav system and the seats are electrically moved and heated as standard. The R8's cabin is as beautifully finished as you'd expect from an Audi though so it should be with the R8 V10 costing just £500 short of one hundred grand in standard manual guise.

What you get for your Money

For your £100,000 you get all of the above design changes along with the must-have magnetic damper system that gives the R8 remarkable poise and composure on the road. There's also an LED lighting kit as standard, meaning you can light up your engine bay when it's parked up - which is cooler than it sounds. Ultimately though the extra £20,000 you pay over the R8 V8 car is for the two additional cylinders that make up the high-revving 5.2-litre V10. That and the extra exclusivity, with only around 150 R8 V10s being built each year for UK customers - expect a waiting list.

Driving it

Aside for the V10 badge inside there's little to give you any clues that the R8 is packing an extra two cylinders over its V8 relative. You can't make out the engine's extra length in the rear view mirror, but turn the key and the V10's engine note is subtly different. It's more cultured and slightly more exotic sounding than its V8 sibling. In ethos and performance think of the R8 V10 as Porsche's 911 Turbo to the Carrera 4 S model, a faster more exclusive model that's crushingly competent but remarkably friendly.

With all four wheels being driven by Audi's quattro four-wheel drive system the R8 V10 has the same surefooted feel of the V8, the traction on offer allowing it to use the ample 518bhp and 390lb.ft of torque very effectively indeed. Get it right and the R8 V10 will reach 62mph in just 3.9 seconds; that's within 0.2 seconds of Ferrari's 611bhp 599 GTB Fiorano and 0.7 seconds faster than the standard V8 model. The V10 likes revs - its maximum power coming at 8,000rpm and peak torque at a lofty 6,500rpm - which means to get the most from it you really need to have those pistons working hard and the rev counter in the top third of the needle's sweep.

Two transmissions are offered and they define the R8 experience. Choose the manual and the R8 V10 is a rewarding and enjoyable driver's car, however the optional (and not cheap) R tronic option is a nodding-head disaster with ponderous upshifts that destroy the R8's appeal. Two-pedal, paddle-shift technology has moved on significantly in recent years, as Audi so ably demonstrates elsewhere in its range with the twin-clutch S tronic system, and the R tronic 'box is not up to scratch. Buy an R tronic R8 and you'll deny yourself an exciting, involving drive and instead forever be trying to judge the necessary lift on the accelerator required to smooth out the clumsy upshifts the R tronic brings. Avoid it.

With Audi's magnetic dampers as standard the R8 V10 rides with real composure, the body and wheel control on offer being remarkable for a low-slung, mid-engined supercar. Like its V8 relative though the R8 V10 doesn't ever give that slightly feral feel that causes its rivals to really get under your skin - the R8's tremendous competence is both its greatest asset and its potential downfall. The nicely weighted steering lacks real feel, though there's enough to experience the R8's tendency to deliver light understeer when cornering, the rear-biased quattro system allowing you to counter that with power, but the R8 lacking some of the edginess and hardcore appeal of some of its rivals. Even so there's no denying its crushing competence and sensational performance.

Worth Noting

Pick the hopeless R tronic transmission and you'll be around £5,000 less well off; it pushes the list price up to nearly £105,000. That's a lot to pay for the R8, especially as its V8 relative will provide just about as much fun and - a few cosmetic details aside - all the visual and beautifully-built feel of its V10-engined alternative. The 'lesser' engine doesn't feel massively slower either when faced with its V10 relative despite being around 100bhp lower in output and 74lb.ft down on torque. That's perhaps due to the R8 V8's peak torque arriving significantly earlier in the rev range.


We always knew it that the V10 was coming and the addition of two cylinders does make for a faster, more exotic R8. However, it's £20,000 more expensive than the already hugely desirable V8 car, which does everything its V10 relation does with only a very marginal drop in performance. The V10 is a great car, but at £10,000 an extra cylinder it's debateable whether it's really worth the extra expense. Not that Audi's customers seem to mind, as the next four or so years' worth of UK cars are already spoken for in bulging order books at Audi's dealerships.

Kyle Fortune - 1 May 2009    - Audi road tests
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- R8 images

2009 Audi R8 specifications: (manual)
Price: £99,500 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 196mph
Combined economy: 19.2mpg
Emissions: 351g/km
Kerb weight: 1620kg

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Mark Nichol.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.

2009 Audi R8 V10. Image by Conor Twomey.


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