Audi R8 V10 Plus

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 16, 2018
Speed demon: The AudiR8 V10 Plus comes with a 5.2-litre mid-mounted engine, which is easily one of the most impressive units in the entry super car category. Photo: Shaju John

Speed demon: The AudiR8 V10 Plus comes with a 5.2-litre mid-mounted engine, which is easily one of the most impressive units in the entry super car category. Photo: Shaju John

Functional feel: The cabin of the R8 V10 Plus has more elements made out of carbon-fibre and clad in leather.

Functional feel: The cabin of the R8 V10 Plus has more elements made out of carbon-fibre and clad in leather.

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is a seriously capable super sports car with a touch of the everyday both in its drivability and its choice of materials

To be able to truly assess a super car, you have to drive one everyday, and not just be part of that once a year free-for-all at the track. Trust me, there is more than a shred of truth to that statement. It is not a line we motoring scribes tow to convince manufacturers to loan us their super cars as ‘long-termers’. Like many other things in life, you get to understand a super car best when you get to spend some quality time with it. Intimacy is important even in this relationship.

But, how do you drive one every day when it can be a nightmare to take a super car out on any of our city roads. Apart from worrying about others putting a dent or a scratch on your fancy wheels, super cars themselves have, in the past, been too powerful and rear-wheel driven, making it a problem for regular drivers to keep torque steer in check. And in narrow by-lanes and single carriageway highways sharing space with two-wheelers and smaller vehicles can be a problem if you give in to the urge to stretch the super car’s legs. The solution was introduced by Audi back in 2007, when the R8 was launched with its proprietary Quattro all-wheel drive system. The spate of run-ins with the law (and pedestrians) that we have seen recently involving novice super car drivers shows that driving one still takes a certain degree of skill. But the R8’s Quattro system really made it considerably idiot-proof. Lamborghini, long the bastion of the pure, raw, super car driving experience, also chose to go with four-wheel drive to account for a lot of new members joining the club.

Sibling rivalry

How does the second generation Audi R8, which shares the same platform as the Lamborghini Huracan (the Gallardo for the previous generation), stress its super car cred? It did it by launching the R8 V10 Plus, which entirely mimics the Huracan in all departments... well, almost all of them. The R8’s design is pure and extremely futuristic, yet when you picture the Huracan in the same frame, the Lambo’s design seems to have a lot more appeal. Remove the Huracan from the frame, take the cloned chassis and powertrain in the R8 V10 Plus, and it becomes clear that this Audi is a serious piece of equipment.

The R8 V10 Plus is also a curiouse mix of a super car that is capable and usable every day compared to the others. The backrests of its nappa leather-clad sports seats are not adjustable for recline, so you have to sit upright, and presumably alert. Unfortunately, the new generation also loses the manual gearbox with its fantastic H-Box gated gear lever. It has got carbon-fibre peeping out from aircon vents and entire sheets of it lie hidden under the floor mats. It also has the Audi Virtual Cockpit built into the digital instrument display behind the steering wheel, just to make sure you don’t lose your way.

Thankfully, Audi is experimenting with tiny petrol engines only for its entry-level cars. The second generation R8 V10 still gets to keep the high-revving 5.2-litre V10 engine and the S tronic transmission. In keeping with the car’s dual character, the engine gets direct injection and a combined intake port for a boost in performance; but it also features cylinder deactivation on demand to boost efficiency under part-load conditions.

Stable mates

What you really get in the ‘Plus’ over the regular R8 V10 is 70 horses more under the bonnet. With peak power at 610 PS, peak torque of 560 Nm and the redline at 8,500 rpm, there is very little that needs to be said about the engine’s capability. This is the same 5.2-litre unit with enhancements to injection and operating software, but the R8 V10 Plus is capable of going from standstill to 100 kmph in 3.2 seconds and is potentially capable of doing a top speed of 330 kmph.

It is on tarmac that those numbers take on real meaning. Push the red engine start button on the steering wheel and the engine wakes up with a rumble. There is enough music coming out of the exhaust with the crescendo being a wailing top note, that you will be excused for not turning on the impressive Bang & Olufsen sound system.

The 5.2-litre mid-mounted engine is easily one of the most impressive units in the entry super car category both in terms of refinement and sheer tyre-squealing performance. It is extremely tractable too, offering enough low-end torque to make it easy to putter around town at slow speeds. Again, true to its dual character, this engine in the R8 V10 Plus is a delight at high speeds too. Aided by the S tronic’s quick shifting sporty character, this powertrain has enough juice even high up in the rpm range. It is a pleasant surprise to see a downshift based on throttle demand even at a high 6,500-7,000 rpm. This Audi feels as good as the entry Lambo.

The R8 V10 Plus’s grip and traction is enormous and the all-electric steering’s precision translates into very confident on-road manners. On the track, it is even more of a riot, where you can truly appreciate the Quattro system’s assistance in correcting your mistakes. The V10 Plus also gets three extra drive modes for dry, wet and snow conditions, in addition to race mode in Drive Select. The suspension is predictably stiff, but the pleasant surprise was how the R8 V10 Plus managed to climb over those monstrous speed breakers on city roads.

Familiar design

The one thing about the second generation R8 V10 Plus which is a bit of a downer is the unchanged design. Overcautious Audi designers have pretty much carried forward the original R8 design and just sharpened the edges. This here is just the second generation and surely is too early to consider an alteration of the design. With its strong haunches and the trademark contrast side blade (often in carbon-fibre), the R8’s design is not fundamentally bad, but the new one still looks too much like the predecessor except for the blade, which is now divided by a half in body colour.

The only differentiators are the sharper hexagonal radiator grille, less curvy front fender, and sharper profiles all around for the LED headlamps, tail lamps and air scoops. The V10 Plus also gets a fixed, stalked rear spoiler in carbon fibre. The cabin of this second generation R8 gets a big dose of improvement in the quality of materials used in the cabin, with more elements made of carbon fibre, and clad in leather. The flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel makes the cabin feel very driver-focused. Yet, the R8 V10 Plus’ cabin feels more functional than luxurious compared to Lambo Huracan.

Bottom Line

There is no doubting the R8 V10 Plus’s proposition that it is a serious sports car. However, at about ₹2.6 crore, it is vying for space with the more established super car brands, albeit at a lower price point. It is also an indicator of Audi’s confidence in the R8.

If you are a purist and a fan of speed and performance, the R8 V10 Plus is just the car for you. It is perfect for everyday use and the occasional romp at the track; just remember to pack light if you are going out of town on a weekend trip.

Published on October 20, 2016

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