Cruise missile, intergalactic rocket, comfortable, brilliant, aggressive, sleek, potent… the new Audi R8 V10 plus is all of the above! Sliding into the driver’s seat is perhaps an oversimplified way of describing how one climbs aboard the new supercar from Audi, but once in place it feels as familiar as your everyday family car, well almost.
After going through the procedure of adjusting the mirror and electric seat, I am finally ready to depress the foot brake and push the big red START button mounted on the steering wheel. The initial bark that is emitted through the quad exhausts is enough to stop people in their tracks, and to seek out the source of that warning shot. The driver, having drawn attention to the new Audi R8 V10 plus, can now pull away as sedately as he chooses, with a quiet display of controlled enthusiasm.
This new model is the second generation of Audi’s mid-engined supercar, first launched back in 2007 with a V8, and then upgraded in 2009 with a V10 power plant. Wider and longer than its predecessor, this new R8 plus is also 12mm lower, thus reducing its frontal wind resistance.
Under the transparent engine cover of this supercar lurks a 5.2-litre V10 FSI engine which in the R8 plus develops 610PS @ 8250rpm and 560Nm of torque at 6500rpm. This remarkable unit will propel the R8 plus from standstill to 62mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds, and if you have a convenient runway at your disposal, will run all the way to a top speed of 205mph. This makes the Audi R8 V10 plus the fastest and most powerful road-going car Audi has ever built. Utilising indirect fuel injection to complement its FSI direct petrol injection, ensures both improved fuel economy and enhanced output in the latest version of the V10 engine. For the first time this engine also features CoD (Cylinder on Demand) technology, helping to return a combined 23.9mpg, which is quite remarkable in a car boasting such performance capabilities.
The R8’s phenomenal power is transferred to the road by means of an improved quattro S tronic 7-speed gearbox. Gear changes are transmitted electrically (shift-by-wire). The driver can shift gears manually using the gear selector lever or the shift paddles on the steering wheel, or the S tronic can be left in the D or S program to shift automatically. Should the driver want to try his hand at a Grand Prix start, at the push of a button, he can engage the car’s launch control for the ultimate experience.
The R8 plus is fitted with electromechanical power steering and as an option, dynamic steering is available which varies the steering ratio in relation to road speed. The flat-bottomed steering wheel features control buttons for the drive select system, engine start-stop and the switch for performance mode. This latter feature allows the driver to select between the dry, wet and snow programs using a rotary wheel. Audi drive select offers the driver a choice of four modes (comfort, auto, dynamic and individual) allowing for the selection of his or her preferred style of driving. The steering wheel also carries a button which controls the exhaust system’s adjustable flaps, providing the occupants and any passers-by with a standard or an enhanced auditory experience.
Making its debut in the R8 is Audi’s virtual cockpit, a free-standing binnacle or housing which presents all the information on a 12.3-inch display with detailed and pin sharp graphics. The driver can toggle between different display modes and also adjust the digital instrument cluster to suit his or her individual mode. This is perhaps a bit daunting at first, but you get used to it fairly quickly.
The Audi R8 V10 plus boasts all-LED headlamps and tail lamps. The headlights can be further enhanced by optional laser spots for the high beams giving an extended field of vision. The laser spots are only active outside of urban areas at speeds above 37mph. A high beam assist function automatically switches between low and high beam settings in the face of oncoming traffic, and is very effective.
Audi are quick to point out that, apart from increase in engine power, much of the performance gain in the R8 plus has been achieved through overall weight reduction, which at 1454kg is 40kg less than the ‘standard’ R8. This weight saving has been achieved by replacing various aluminium body parts with carbon fibre, the fitment of ceramic brakes, and lightweight bucket seats. An obvious external difference is to be found in the carbon fibre side blade which is now split along the shoulder line, enhancing the cars poise and giving it a sleeker look when compared with its predecessor. Together with a new front splitter, the lowered stance of the R8 plus and the car’s fixed rear wing, a low Cd of just 0.36 was achieved.
Audi will make around 30 R8s per day for the global market, with the UK market expecting to sell between 400-450 units in its first year, settling down to an average of 300-350 per year. The UK marketing team expect a 60/40 sales split in favour of the more expensive R8 plus, claiming that the higher cost of the ‘plus’ is unlikely to deter buyers. Priced at £134,500 the R8 V10 plus is £15,000 more than the standard R8 V10, but it still represents ‘extreme’ value for money.
With all of the above in mind, I will certainly be placing my order before Christmas…
Written by: Glen Smale