While supercar manufacturers are increasingly turning to turbocharging and electrification for their fastest models, Audi is actually doing the opposite, and has remained with an old-school naturally-aspirated V10 engine for the latest iteration of its R8.
The engine has been tuned even more, with the standard V10 seeing its power increase by 29bhp to 562bhp, and the new ‘Performance’ version – previously known as the ‘Plus’ has had a 10bhp boost for an impressive total power output of 612bhp.
There are also visual changes. In keeping with Audi’s latest grille design, the range-topping R8 is the third model to benefit from this design. The huge gaping grille has been given the ‘Singleframe’ treatment, which in turn leads to slimmer headlights positioned at the far corners of the front. At the rear, hints of the LMS racer appear with the full-width grille.
Five and 10-cylinder performance models have long been Audi’s forte, so it’s not a huge surprise that Audi has stayed true to its famed V10 unit for the latest model. The 5.2-litre unit is as pure as they come, with no turbos or superchargers here.
This has two clear advantages – the first of which is the completely instant throttle response, with the second being the almighty noise. The sounds truly glorious, and such is the way with naturally-aspirated engines, peak power is accessed very close to the redline – at 8,000rpm – thus meaning you have plenty of time to build the noise up.
With even the ‘basic’ model producing 562bhp, there’s completely no shortage of power and performance. The coupe can manage 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds and would keep going to a sublime 201mph. The seven-speed S tronic gearbox is also instantaneous with its shifts, which is particularly useful when driving on track like we were here.
Ride and handling
With most of our time driving being spent on track, we can’t give a fully conclusive verdict on comfort.
For some, the Audi plays the performance game too safe, and doesn’t offer the drama that you find in certain rivals – we’re looking at you, Porsche. It’s not quite as involving to drive as Porsche’s 911, but it provides accurate and well-weighted steering – an improvement over the last version.
The quattro four-wheel-drive system is where much of this stability comes from, but thankfully if you switch of the traction control completely you can get switch the power to the rear wheels, although this isn’t for the faint hearted. But it’s this system that makes the R8 such a useable all-weather supercar, and one that’s very easy to drive quickly.See Available Audi A8 Deals
Interior and equipment
Inside, it’s everything you expect from a modern Audi. Despite it being one of the more powerful cars on sale, the interior layout is hardly dissimilar to the firm’s luxury models. While most of our efforts on track were focused on the performance, all the buttons feel beautifully built. It’s also superbly accessible for a supercar, thanks to comfortable sports seats and wide opening doors.
Elsewhere, the R8 features the Virtual Cockpit system, which is a driver-operated system housing many of the car’s key controls and functions. It’s a crystal-clear display, while the option to personalise it gives you the readouts you want to see, and hides those you don’t.
Standard equipment is as impressive as you would hope for on a supercar. There’s LED lights everywhere you could cram them, 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, electric Nappa leather seats and satellite navigation.
Audi has yet to announce prices for the new R8, but expect an increase over the outgoing car’s £112,250 starting price. Performance models will likely command a £20,000 increase in price, with Spyder versions costing about £10,000 more than the Coupe.
Running costs are likely to be steep, but will be better than the outgoing car thanks to the new cylinder deactivation technology. Fuel economy and CO2 figures are still to be announced.
We’ll need time on the road to be able to give a comprehensive verdict on the new Audi R8, but the first impressions of it are superb. As an entry-level supercar, you can’t ask for much more from the R8, and the increase in power has only made the R8 even more desirable than it already was.Enquire Now on a new A8