The Audi R8 is a great car from a dying breed. As manufacturers add turbochargers to their cars to attain ever-stricter emissions goals, the naturally aspirated engine is simply falling out of favour, and in some ways the Audi R8 is an incredible last hurrah. But while the 5.2-Litre V10 is a focal point of the vehicle there’s much more to the R8 than merely a big engine.
It’s as useable as an Audi TT on a regular basis, if you can live along with the running costs, and its simplicity of use would put some superminis to embarrassment. Quattro four-wheel drive means it has abundance of traction and grip, but dissimilar to many fast Audis, it’s pleasant to drive on track. It’s nimble and swift, while the V10 packs a punch that go along with a thrilling V10 soundtrack, especially if you set out for the R8 V10 Plus.
Extensive exercise of aluminium in the R8’s structure has permitted Audi’s engineers to reduce weight by approximately 15 per cent over the old car, while the recognizable, naturally aspirated 5.2-Litre V10 has been tweaked to send an astonishing 602bhp – that’s almost 40bhp more than a McLaren 570S. This powerplant is balanced with a seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic gearbox that drives all four wheels through a new quattro transmission. Press the red starter button placed on the steering wheel, and the V10 snarls into life with enough noisy aggression to set off car alarms and amaze passers-by – if its attention you’re after, then this sturdy engine delivers it in spades. The R8 engine’s 560Nm torque figure means it can’t match its opponents here for mid-range muscle, but it really got them well beaten for acoustic drama.
From its deep bark at low revs through to the exciting metallic howl as you shut in on the 8,500rpm red line, it sounds every time as exciting as you’d hope from a supercar. Go for the optional Sports exhaust, and there is even more volume additional to the glorious mechanical orchestra. Maximum torque appears at 6,500rpm, so the R8’s driving experience is conquered by the screaming V10.
At the track, teat takers’ve figured an R8 from 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds – that’s three-tenths faster than Audi’s claimed time. Short ratios and a razor-sharp throttle reaction means the R8 surges persistently forward no matter what gear you’re in. And though it doesn’t have a McLaren 570S’s fierce top-end bite, the Audi is still histrionically quick
Audi is well-known for the quality and reliability of its machinery, and as the second-generation R8 is a competent development of the original, it should be a fine performer. Along with its hand-crafted production process and heavy price, the R8 should bring a blemish-free ownership experience. However, Audi ended a heartbreaking 21st in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey, though it’s franchised network came 25th out of 32 in the latest dealer poll.
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