New Audi R8 V10 2016 review

The less powerful Audi R8 V10 is Audi's 'everyday' supercar, but how does it drive?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The R8 remains the ultimate everyday supercar. Despite its exotic looks, it’s easy to live with and simple to drive – but while that will suit some, it’s also the Audi’s biggest failing. Rivals like the Ferrari 488 GTB offer more thrills, and are ultimately more engaging on a twisty road. Still, if you want an easy (yet exciting) life every time you take the wheel, not much comes close to the entry-level R8.

The first-generation Audi R8 arrived initially with only a V8 engine. It was later joined by a more potent V10, with the range topped off by a V10 Plus in 2012.

The all-new version appears to be launching in reverse order. We first drove the Plus on UK roads late last year, but only now are we getting a taste of the less powerful standard V10 in the UK.

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In terms of styling, the entry car goes without the Plus model’s carbon-fibre side blades and fixed rear wing. Both get 19-inch wheels and LED lights, though, as well as an identically finished interior complete with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The Plus’ racy-looking buckets are replaced by supportive leather-covered sports seats, but that doesn’t detract from the exquisitely finished cabin.

On paper, the performance differences are clear. This car costs £15,000 less than the Plus, and makes do with just 533bhp (compared to 602bhp). It gets 20Nm less torque, too, although it shares the same seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Audi R8 V10 Plus review

Start it up and the naturally aspirated V10 roars into life with a satisfying growl. In Comfort or Auto modes, it settles down nicely and will crawl around town as quietly as an A3 hatch – but switch to Dynamic, and everything racks up to 11. It adds a brilliant sense of occasion, even at low speeds.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 3.5 seconds – three-tenths down on the Plus – but the car still feels incredibly rapid when you pin the accelerator. The top speed is 6mph slower, at 199mph, although that’s unlikely to worry potential UK owners. It’s refreshingly linear in its power delivery alongside turbocharged rivals, too, with no unwelcome surprises as it reaches peak torque at 6,500rpm.

The gearbox is a masterpiece, shifting ratios seamlessly and with no perceptible kickback through the steering wheel or seat. In fact, this R8 is almost too easy to drive. Ferrari’s new 488 GTB is undoubtedly more rewarding – and ultimately more exciting – but as a supercar for every day, nothing this side of a Porsche 911 comes close.

The quattro all-wheel drive provides plenty of grip, and the suspension, while firm, is compliant enough for Britain’s rutted roads. There’s a usable boot in the nose, and loads of steering and seat adjustment.

Neither version of the R8 could ever be described as economical, but we found the claimed 24.8mpg figure just within reach on longer motorway journeys.

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