The persistence of Audi to maintain a large capacity, the natural aspiration V10 is giving it a real point of differentiation when almost all of its rivals are motivated by turbo V8s twins (or six planes, obviously). The engine has only been adjusted very lightly for the facelift, the handful of horses of extra strength barely perceptible, but this remains an impressive, outstanding and unquestionable engine.
And it’s the centerpiece of what’s still a very complete supercar. Visual changes have given the front end a sharpness that has been copied by mechanical alterations below. It is still not as direct and accurate as the McLaren Sports Series or the Porsche GT3, but there is an extra twist in the twist and a significantly improved direction sense (now we will not leave it blank if you insist on having the dynamic direction variable).
It is easy to overlook the R8 among the newer, fresher and more dynamic rivals with more exotic badges, but instead of feeling obsolete, their engine and their enormous capacity make them feel more and more special. A supercar that totally deserves its place on the top table.
Price : £119,085 – £147,765
The most everyday of everyday supersports. Because it is an Audi, because the booth will contain people of the 95 percentile, because it is ergonomically sound, because it is reliable and well built and comes from a company that manufactures approximately 1.8 million of other reliable and well built cars each year. .
But also: Screaming 8.700 rpm V10. Unusual juxtaposition. Audi, the honored doyenne of the Waitrose class, is one of the last bastions of natural aspiration. When everyone else is reducing the size and the turbo (to the detriment of the noise and the response), the R8 persists with a 5.2-litre V10 that breathes freely. It won’t always be like this. We know that a hybrid V6 is approaching, in fact, we’re almost surprised that it’s not here yet, but by the time the range starts and ends with the V10.
Now with more power. As you can see from the subtly sharper nose, the R8 has been improved. This is the mid-life renovation, a gentle boost to help you stay competitive and survive another four years or so on sale. It’s still a range of two models, but with the Plus now with the new performance name. That received an impulse of 604 to 614bhp, while the entry-level model rose from 533 to 562bhp. A figure that puts him face to face with the 570S of McLaren. The only rear-wheel drive RWS? That’s gone now.
On the outside, you’re looking at new and sharper bumpers at both ends, larger tailpipes and those three grooves in the nose that go back to the 1984 Sport Quattro group B Rally Car. They’re also on the new A1. Elsewhere, the plan has consisted of sharpening the driving experience in a fractional way by hardening the suspension, placing a new carbon stabilizer bar at the front (40% lighter than that of the old steel) and recalibrating the direction, Especially the optional variable ratio.
Maybe the best supercars cabin of all. It is spacious (see the large shelf behind the seats, the space for the head and the feeling of space generated by the distant windshield) and, at the same time, intimate. It attracts you, focuses your attention on the direction and the totally digital board to start with, and then wakes up your view to details as beautiful as the heating controls.
It is the workmanship and quality of the material that really comes home, even beyond a Porsche 911. The touch is masterful, the organization of the controls is excellent, the operation of the controls is like that. It is a car where you can spend a lot of time, simply pressing the buttons and moving the switches. Driving position? You, like me, may want a little more reach on the steering wheel, and we suggest you avoid the sportier seats, which are too vertical and are padded for your comfort.
It’s not as easy to watch as a sports series from McLaren or 911, and it feels wide, but this is a design booth that works on almost every level. Note that there is not much loading space under the nose: the 112 litre area is limited by the presence of those front drive shafts. Put it on by exploiting that 226-liter shelf.
The changes for the version of facelifted are very modest: new schemes of silver and brown color inside, and the reversing camera is now standard. Audi Virtual screen remains the reference digital Board for readability and information organization.
Driving and performance
It is the duality of the R8 that distinguishes it from its rivals. Others, such as the McLaren 570S, the AMG GT, the Porsche 911 GT3, are sharper, sharper and more exciting to handle. But none come to the high notes of daily use and the tracks of Trackday are as complete as the Audi R8. In fact, only one car, the Porsche 911 Turbo, does a better job of being a diary, and that, despite its speed and power, does not feel as special as the R8. Because make no mistake, a mid-mount V10 is something very special.
But also quite docile. Always noisy at the beginning, yes, but this is a V10 of rare skill, so it is calm and manageable when it is only fed, allowing the engine to wrinkle itself and the dual clutch gearbox self-elect relations. If you want to maximize this side of your character, have the optional adaptive suspension, which really smooths the walk around the city, but also brings a strange marsoplastia about Speedbumps. I personally enjoy the most natural feeling of standard suspension. And I would do it without the optional dynamic direction as well.
Audi has persevered with this variable relationship system (a gear in the steering column allows you to change the direction ratio, so you need less blocking to surround the corners). It used to be strangely artificial, but the latest version is much more convincing. But ultimately, all you’re doing is saving a bit of arm work, and still stealing a bit of the feeling of what a very good setup is. It’s another box we’d leave unmarked.
The central differential is electronically controlled, which ensures that it is a rear-drive vehicle for greater agility, unless you need a front-wheel-drive dose for greater safety. Set up all these systems in their sportier modes and the R8 becomes super reactive. It is not a car that slides extravagantly, but feels the small sliding angles of the tyre with vivid details.
The main dynamic critique of this second-generation R8 was that it lacked a bit on the turn-in. The suspension settings have been directed to improve that, and have been partially successful. The nose feels a little sharper and more gripping, both in terms of direction response just outside the center as reacting the car while compressing the suspension. Previously, there was this fractional delay and the feeling that the car was understeer even before it was. Now it’s a little bit sharper, if it’s still not in the same category in terms of adjustment and sharpness as the McLaren 570S.
Blame the weight. Despite using a hybrid carbon and aluminum chassis, the two-seat R8 weighs 1,660 kg without load, about 200 kg more than the McLaren. The weight saving in the Performance version eliminates 65 kg of that. The R8 is very well balanced through and out of the corners. Your preference is to understeer very slightly, but you should think carefully if you are coming out of the accelerator if you are running to the exit as you can bite backwards.
But all the time you’re playing melodies on this incredible V10. It emits a glorious and baleful barricade that grows in intensity as it sits on the 8.700 rpm cutout. Its reactions at high revolutions are sharp, epic forceful, and it sounds like the opera of the gods. It’s a real point of differentiation. Do you realize the extra power? The additional components of the titanium valve train? Of course not. You’re too busy because of how amazing this great engine is to be so analytical.
Anyone can assume how long Audi can continue to justify their presence, especially when the hybrid V6 arrives. Difficult for a company that honestly claims to be behind the zero-emission revolution when it also sells a 300 g/km supercar, 23 mpg. Space for both of us, we say.
The brakes have not changed: standard R8 steel wave rotors, carbon ceramics for Performance, but Audi claims a reduction in braking distance (from five meters to 124 mph) due to a new compound for Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Costs and Reliability
As mentioned, the prices have not changed much, so you are seeing an entry of £128.000 for the version 562bhp, with a performance of 614bhp that costs around £15.000 more. The Spyder is about £9.000 more. Waste is good, operating costs are not, to a large extent, the case of all supercars, but the downside of that V10 is its economy and CO2. The exact figures for face washing are not yet available, but we are seeing 22 mpg and about 300 g/km of CO2.
Costs do not matter, short stops between refills (about every 250 miles) could. I know, you don’t think the R8 is a GT, but trust us, it is. It is so comfortable and able to traverse distances like an Aston Martin Vantage or DB11. It’s a very complete car.
And a good pint, too. At least at the front, we’re not convinced by the black vent lock on the back, at least the touches of the old Lamborghini Gallardo? Some of the wheels are a little fussy, too. Specs carefully. And enjoy the now standard LED lights.