£141,200 Price range
We would like to meet the person that gets out of the standard Audi R8 thinking “could be quicker”, but Audi’s sure such a person exists and the company’s response is called the Audi R8 V10 Plus. Makes sense.
It’s the fastest road car that the firm has ever built. Power comes from a revised version of the standard R8’s awesome-sounding 5.2-litre V10 pumping out 602hp – 69hp more than the regular car – for a top speed of 205mph and 0-62mph in just 3.2 seconds.
The chassis has been tightened and weight reduced by 40kg, while the standard car’s steel brakes are side stepped in favour of a set of race-spec carbon-ceramic discs. The four-wheel-drive system remains, though, so you can make the most of all that power no matter the road or weather conditions.
Spotting the R8 V10 Plus from the regular model is easy – it gets a front splitter, rear diffuser and mid-body air vent blades all made from carbon fibre, and a set of 19-inch forged alloy wheels. The biggest clue is the carbon fibre rear spoiler that provides an added sense of purpose and contrasts well with the Camouflage Green matt paint that’s an option reserved for Plus buyers.
Inside, it is much the same as the standard car – so beautifully built and loaded with clever technology. Nevertheless, the V10 Plus model’s higher price gets you lightweight body-grasping sports seats, plus a Performance button and rotary control (for the car’s stability system) both located on the steering wheel.
From the driver’s seat visual queues that separate the R8 V10 Plus from the basic model include a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, matt carbon trim pieces and sporty aluminium pedals.
But everything we like about the entry-level car remains – its huge windscreen gives you an all-seeing view out the front, while the mid-mounted engine’s glass cover not only lets you peer in awe at the fabulous V10’s refection in the rearview mirror, but also gives you surprisingly good visibility out the back. All the controls are easy – to the point that you could step straight from an A4 saloon to the R8, without difficulty.
Okay so the R8 V10 Plus may be as easy to use as an A4 saloon, but in entertainment terms the two are worlds apart. Leaving the biggest impression is that powerplant. It’s been jimmied from the engine bay of a Lamborghini Huracan and positively drips with personality – not to mention power.
Specify the £3,500 Sport Plus Pack – an absolute must, we think – and you can adjust all the car’s major functions on the move. You get a button-operated sports exhaust that transforms the R8 Plus from docile cruiser to full-on racer – providing pops, crackles and splutters that would rival cigarettes for their addictive qualities. Meanwhile the magnetic ride allows you to iron out the road on a motorway cruise before stiffening things up when more interesting tarmac appears. Finally the Dynamic Steering switches between two ratios to sharpen the car’s responses in bends, or make it feel less edgy on a motorway cruise. It lacks a little feel, but is quick and accurate in a way that makes the R8 shrink around its driver as if it’s a much smaller car.
Perhaps one of the elements that defines the R8 most is its excellent four-wheel-drive system that’s provides almost infinite traction on slippery roads, but still allows for arching slides on a track.
While the R8 Plus’ V10 engine might lack the ferocious low down punch of a Porsche 911 Turbo, the delicious engine noise more than makes up for it. Peak power of 602hp and torque of 413Ib ft comes at 8,250 and 8,500rpm respectively, so it is easy to change up a gear only to realise the engine has a lot more to give. Wring its neck, though, and the V10 Plus will launch from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, 0-124mph in 9.9 seconds and not stop until it reaches a top speed of 205mph.
If you have the money to buy a 200mph+ supercar, running costs are likely to be less of a concern than they are to most. Nevertheless efficiency has been improved by 10 per cent compared to the old model, thanks to cylinder-on-demand technology, which lets the R8 shut off half its engine when the extra power is not needed. Fuel economy of 23mpg and CO2 emissions of 289g/km are high for sure, but the R8 Plus is cheaper to run than a petrol-powered Range Rover.
Audi reckons 85 per cent of new R8 owners will go for the V10 Plus model and it’s easy to see why. For a reasonable outlay you get more distinctive looks, a smarter interior and extra equipment, but the important improvements can be felt in performance that is noticeably sharper than in the standard car. As a result the Plus looks like something of a bargain when compared to pricier rivals such as the McLaren 570S, Ferrari 488 and Porsche 911 Turbo S.