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Audi R8 V10 Plus: Agile, responsive and visceral yet practical

By Ghaith Madadha - Sep 11,2017 - Last updated at Sep 11,2017

Photo courtesy of Audi

Audi’s fastest production road car and winner of the 2017 Middle East Car of the Year accolade, the Audi R8 V10 is a sensational performer and is also as sensibly practical as a bona fide mid-engine supercar can be. Billed as the thinking man’s — or woman’s — supercar when it arrived in first iteration back in 2006, the second generation R8 even better delivers on this promise, but remains an intuitively visceral, rather than a clinically cerebral experience. 

Evolutionary in design and engineering, the cumulative effect is a far-reaching improvement in comfort, practicality, driving dynamic and performance, especially in the more powerful R8 V10 Plus version, as driven.

Launched globally as a 2016 model, the second generation R8 V10 is a tauter, tidier, sharper and more deliberate re-interpretation of its predecessor’s design expression. With a broader and seemingly lower-set single frame hexagonal honeycomb grille seemingly framed by side air inlets with vertical slats and sharply angled, slim and heavily browed LED headlights, the R8 V10 has a predatory and hungry visage.

A low bonnet and subtle yet sharply ridged fin-like character lines and discretely rising and bulging wheel-arches adds to its road-hugging stance, as does its width, and design emphasis on how it “sits” on all four wheels to allude to its Quattro four-wheel-drive. 

 

Eager and evolutionary

 

With larger curved windscreen, low bonnet, forward-set cabin and arcing roofline, the R8 radiates a sense of purpose and eagerness. Deeper more chiseled grooves along its flanks feed into its side air intakes and low-set mid-mounted engine. In R8 V10 Plus guise driven, carbon-fibre trim panels are finished in gloss and include a rear wing which — along with the rear diffuser — helps generate 140kg downforce at top speed. Also finished in carbon-fibre, the R8’s characteristic “sideblade” intake covers are now divided by a long uninterrupted waistline, with hidden lower door handles and strong broad but low-set rear shoulders and subtle Coke-bottle lines.

Marginally shorter and lower yet wider and with longer wheelbase, yet comparatively lighter than the car it replaces, the new R8 V10 is built on a lighter and stiffer version of the Audi Space Frame, incorporated a mix of aluminium and more carbon-fibre reinforced polymer. Externally, the R8’s body is almost entirely built from aluminium. Viewed by some as a high performance sports car rival to the likes of top-end Porsche 911s, the R8 V10 Plus, however, is very closely related to, yet more practical and slightly longer than the Lamborghini Huracan. In turn this makes it a more affordable and discrete supercar alternative to flashy and pricey exotics.

 

Urgent and exacting

 

Like its Lamborghini sister with which its shares mid-mounted engine, gearbox and more, the Audi R8 bucks the trend for smaller turbocharged engine supercars. Instead, it retains its charismatic, ultra-responsive, driver-engaging and stratospherically high-revving 8700rpm naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine. Producing 70BHP more in the more powerful R8 V10 Plus of two versions — and same as the Huracan — it develops 602BHP at 8250rpm and 413lb/ft at 6500rpm, which allows for sensationally swift headline and real world performance. Rocketing through 0-100km/h in 3.2-seconds or less and through 0-200km/h in 9.9-seconds, the aerodynamic and relatively lightweight 1580kg R8 V10 Plus can attain 330km/h, and returns acceptably good 12.3l/100km combined efficiency when driven less enthusiastically.

Highly responsive to the slightest input from idling to redline, the R8 V10 Plus allows one to dial in exact increments of power through corners to not overpower grip and allow for precise driving finesse, while its engine also pulls hard from low rpm and through a broad mid-range. Responsive and quick to rev and wind down, its V10 engine builds power and torque with searing progression, as it races to redline. 

Meanwhile, an authentic, evocative and distinctly metallic staccato engine note crackles and hardens to urgent bellowing and wailing as revs rise, and is accompanied by a throaty exhaust note and gurgling at throttle lift-off.

 

Crisp and committed

 

Launching from standstill with startling alacrity as all four driven wheels dig in to the tarmac for enormous traction, the R8 V10 Plus accelerates with consistent urge against wind resistance, and remains planted at speed, with up to 100kg downforce at the rear and 40kg at the front, for meaty and precise steering, and reassuring directional stability. Unfortunately absent in this latest iteration is the option of a manual gearbox, as is the case with most rivals. However, the R8’s 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox is seamlessly quick, precise and decisive when shifting through different automatic modes, with escalating comfort-to-responsiveness settings, or through its steering wheel-mounted manual mode paddle shifters.

With rear-biased four-wheel-drive and weighting, and engine mounted low and behind the cabin for superb within-wheelbase weight distribution and low centre of gravity, the R8 V10 Plus feels neutral and nimble through corners.

Entering a corner with crisp immediacy and tight grip at a flick of its quick, direct and well-weighted electric-assisted steering, it is committed and agile through corners and switchbacks. And with stability controls in less interventionist mode and a heavy right foot, one can playfully kick out the rear to tighten a cornering line, before its four-wheel-drive swiftly reallocates more power frontward and its limited-slip differential redistributes power along the rear axle to find the necessary traction and grip.

 

Clarity and comfort

 

Blasting out of a corner with all four wheels tenaciously dug into tarmac and ready to assault a series of oncoming corners, the R8 V10 remains taut and flat owing to its optional adaptive magnetic dampers that stiffen for improved body control through corners, loosen for more supple ride comfort over straights and provide buttoned down vertical control and fluency over imperfections.

A scalpel sharp hill climb companion, the R8 V10 Plus’ is connected, agile and engaging, with long-legged rev-limit, highly responsive throttle control and chassis adjustability. Somewhat reminiscent of a Lotus Evora in handling and nimbleness, the R8 V10 Plus is, however, a flexible machine that also enjoys Nissan GT-R-like road-holding and commitment.

Highly capable and flattering, the R8 V10 Plus is in many respects a more practical Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 with more cargo space, and more understated design and badge. However, for taller and larger drivers, its generous headroom, spacious cabin, excellent visibility, highly adjustable driving position and feeling of being at the centre of the action, lends an added and crucial layer of confidence, control and clarity.

 

Luxurious, well trimmed and with extensive infotainment, convenience and safety features and adjustable driving modes, the R8 feels manoeuvrable and manageable at speed, through switchbacks and on city streets, and even provides better rear visibility than some narrower front-engine sports cars with more rearwards cabins..

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 5.2-litre, mid-mounted, dry sump, V10-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 92.8mm

Compression ratio: 12.5:1

Valve-train: 40-valve, DOHC, direct injection

Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch

Driveline: Four-wheel-drive, multi-plate clutch, limited-slip differential

Gear ratios: 1st 3.133; 2nd 2.588; 3rd 1.958; 4th 1.244; 5th 0.979; 6th 0.976; 7th 0.841; R 2.647

Final drive, 1st, 4th, 5th, R/2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th: 4.893/3.938

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 602 (610) [449] @8250rpm

Specific power: 115.7BHP/litre

Power-to-weight, unladen: 381BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 413 (560) @6500rpm

Specific torque: 107.6Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight, unladen: 354.4Nm/tonne

Rev limit: 8700rpm

0-100km/h: 3.2-seconds (3.1-seconds with sport tires)

0-200km/h: 9.9-seconds

Top speed: 330km/h

Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined: 17.5-/9.3-/12.3-litres/100km 

CO2 emissions, combined: 287g/km

Fuel capacity: 73-litres

Track, F/R: 1638/1599mm

Overhangs, F/R: 994/782mm

Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.36

Headroom: 977mm

Unladen/kerb weight: 1580kg/1655kg

Weight distribution, F/R: 42 per cent/58 per cent

Luggage capacity, boot/behind front seats: 112-/226-litres 

Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion

Turning circle: 11.2-metres

Suspension: Double wishbones, adaptive magnetic dampers

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated, perforated ceramic discs

Brake callipers, F/R: 6-/4-piston callipers

 

Tyres: 245/30ZR20/305/30ZR20

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