Audi has reintroduced its R8 sportscar after an absence of several years. Though the company won’t say so in answer to our questions it’s probably come back to take on recently introduced sports models from its German, British and Japanese competitors.
We’ve just spent an enjoyable week road testing one, though sadly we didn’t have a chance to test it to its limits at a race track – perhaps later…
The first thing that you look at in the Audi R8 is the back window because there’s a gloriously looking V10 under the glass!
The front end is reasonably low, with a the very-Audi large grille with honeycomb styling. The doors have large openings that taper towards their rear to let air into the intakes. The side pods aren’t as standout in their look as in earlier editions of the R8, but still seems to be a lot of car behind the doors.
The bucket seats are supportive and pretty comfortable for this class. If your backside isn’t as narrow as it used to be perhaps do a test sit before buying the car.
The front luggage boot is better than some in this class and can take a couple of overnight bags. There’s also some space on a high mounted shelf behind the seats.
Virtual Cockpit means all the controls run through the driver’s screen and you can set the display to suit your taste. We preferred the sports setting with a large tacho sitting slap bang in the centre.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are there for the asking.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Audi’s V10 engine produces 606 horsepower (449kW) at 8250rpm, the sort of revs that are almost race-car like, and 560Nm at 6500rpm. A seven-speed S tronic transmission takes power to all four wheels.
Primary safety, that is the ability to avoid a crash, is excellent as the R8 has excellent brakes, handling and easy controllability.
Should something still go wrong there are airbags for driver and front passenger that inflate in two stages depending on seriousness of collision; side airbags that are seat-mounted; and head level curtain airbag, the latter only on the coupe.
The red start button inside the steering wheel is an excellent idea. The V10 engine sound just magnificent with a loud roar before it settles into a very fast idle to build up to operating temperature as soon as possible. The neighbours may not like it if you’re about to head out on an early morning fang on your favourite roads.
There’s the option of Comfort and Sport settings. As keen drivers we kept it in Sport most of the time. Amongst other things it lets you make many of your own decisions. For example, it will spin the wheels (yes, all four of them!) if you floor it off the line so you need to back off just a fraction to get maximum traction and minimum times.
Acceleration is all-but instantaneous because the big capacity V10 isn’t held back by a small turbocharged engine that takes time to spool up.
At about 5000 revs you feel it really coming on hard as the engineers have reasoned that once you’re up there you’re very serious.
It keeps on going hard till it’s just past the 8500 redline. Gearchanges are very fast and there’s no feeling the engine is backed of electronically during them.
Cornering balance is excellent due to the mid-mounted engine. It takes bends way over the suggested speeds and is neutral and easy to control with plenty of feedback through the steering wheel.
Track days may be necessary if you really want to get the best bang for your bucks. Keep an eye on what local car clubs are doing and you may be able to join in with them
In Sport the ride is pretty harsh and a passenger with a bad back suffered serious discomfort.
Bump-thump on the expansion joints of concrete roads is a pain. However, as these are generally on motorways it might makes sense to switch back to Comfort mode.
A brilliant piece of automotive engineering, the Audi R8 V10 may be getting on in years, but it’s reintroduction and changes to improve it have given it a new lease on life.
AT A GLANCE
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi R8 quattro V10 5.2-litre two-door coupe)
Capacity: 5.204 litres
Maximum Power: 449 kW @ 8250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 560 Nm @ 6500 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 13.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 314 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4429 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Width: 1940 mm
Height: 1246 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1595 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 73 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres