The Audi R8 V10 has stonking performance and a soundtrack straight from petrolhead heaven. It’s well built and easy to drive, but can’t match alternatives’ exclusivity
Audi has a habit for building excellent cars that are sometimes, well, a little too clinical to be exciting. However, the Audi R8 comfortably bucks that trend. It is the (super) car that proves Audi knows how to have fun and it packs a huge mid-mounted V10 petrol engine that it shares with the Lamborghini Huracan.
The current version of the Audi R8 has been with us since 2015 but got a subtle refresh in 2018, most easily spotted by the small horizontal air vents that run along the top of its grille. Under the skin, the car’s steering, suspension and brakes have been tweaked, power’s up, and, instead of the more potent version being called the R8 V10 Plus, it’s now named the R8 V10 Performance.
And ‘performance’ is exactly what you get. In raw numbers this, the top-of-the-range R8, gets from 0-62mph in just 3.1 seconds and will keep banging through it’s seven-speed DSG gearbox until it screams to a healthy 205mph. In a word – it’s ‘quick’ but unlike turbocharged cars from Porsche and McLaren, the Audi needs to be worked to experience it at its rabid best – expect fuel economy to drop well below 20mpg as a result.
Cornering quickly requires less effort. The Audi R8 doesn’t have steering that gives you the unwithering confidence of the best systems but it’s quick and responsive, and the shear grip on offer makes it easy to place in corners.
Four-wheel drive comes as standard. When driving steadily, it sends power to the back wheels but, if needed, it can redistribute it to the front tyres, helping you fire out of corners like you’re sitting on top of a petrol-powered catapult.
With its propensity to go quick more or less anywhere, it’s good to know the Audi R8 has strong brakes as standard. However, the Performance comes as standard with carbon ceramic discs with huge six-pot front calipers. They can stand up to heavy braking on track and software revisions mean the V10 Performance pulls up five meters shorter than the old Plus model when stopping from 124mph (200km/h).
The Audi R8 V10 Performance has a heavy metal soundtrack that makes all other supercars sound like they belong on the early rounds of X Factor
But, while the Audi R8 can put a smile on your face wider than a Cheshire Cat on laughing gas, it’s also a car you can live with every day.
For one, the interior’s as well designed and logical as any other Audi. True, it doesn’t ooze exotica quite like a Ferrari’s cabin, but it certainly feels much better screwed together.
The infotainment system is also miles better than you’ll get in most supercars. The huge Virtual Cockpit Display behind the steering wheel doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor it used to – even the entry-level Audi A1 gets it now – but it still works well and looks great. And you now get a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Practicality is one area where you do have to make compromises, though, because the R8 is a strict two-seater that lacks a proper boot. That said, two of you will have no trouble getting comfortable in the supportive seats and you’ll find the Audi R8 V10 Performance is surprisingly easy to see out of for a supercar.
Up front, where you’d expect to see an engine, you’ll discover the R8’s ‘frunk’ that, along with the space behind the seats, should give you enough room for a week away, so long as you pack relatively light and take soft bags.
So, practicality is not the R8’s strong point, but then that’s not why you buy a supercar. What it needs to do (be savagely fast, intoxicating to drive and downright desirable to own) it does very well, with the added bonus that it’s a car that can easily handle the day-to-day grind.