Audi R8 5.2 V10

It’s the most expensive Audi ever. Does it live up to the price tag?

Audi’s mission to dominate the supercar market is going exactly to plan. Not content with owning Lamborghini – one of the world’s most celebrated marques – and having the mind-blowing R8 V8 in its line-up, the German giant has decided to bridge the gap between the two ranges with a new V10-engined R8.

A price just shy of £100,000 makes the R8 V10 the most expensive production Audi ever. It costs a cool £20,000 more than the standard V8-equipped machine, but a whopping £40,000 less than the cheapest Lamborghini Gallardo. However, with performance figures that virtually match those of the Italian machine, you have to wonder if there’s a catch somewhere.

In terms of design and engineering, the R8 V10 is near-identical to its V8 brother. According to Audi, the powerplant itself is so compact that only minor changes were necessary to install the 5.2-litre unit.

No alterations were required to the R8’s wheelbase, and the only reason the new car is 4mm longer than the V8 is that it features slightly modified bumpers.

Indeed, you’ll need to be something of an R8 expert to spot the key styling differences between the two models. Apart from wider side-blades – which allow more air to reach the engine bay – and the introduction of gloss black trim around the rear number plate, there are few details to distinguish the two. It’s the same story inside, where the only real difference is a rev counter that redlines at a heady 8,700rpm. Otherwise, the V10 is as beautifully crafted as the standard model. The driving position is flawless, while the switchgear and materials put the Corvette’s to shame.

The cabin is also lighter and less oppressive than the Aston Martin’s.

Yet to really discover what the range-topping R8 is all about, you need to hit the road. The 518bhp V10 propels the hand-built aluminium-bodied machine from 0-60mph in just over four seconds and on to a top speed of 197mph. But the bare figures tell only half the story. The R8 succeeds where other supercar wannabes have failed because of the way it drives. Despite ferocious firepower, the V10 is as docile and easy to get on with as an A3. And it sounds like an Audi should, emitting a warbling off-beat howl as the revs climb.

Combine this with the distinctive ‘clack clack’ of the open-gate gearbox, and you have a soundtrack to melt the hearts of supercar fanatics. Performance is breathtaking. The quattro four-wheel drive distributes power with an almost magical precision, letting you accelerate out of corners with astonishing ease. Steering which is loaded with feedback and perfectly geared makes the R8 feel far more compact than it actually is.

Factor in some of the most powerful brakes in the business, plus an amazingly supple ride courtesy of the standard-fit magnetic damping system, and you have what can only be described as one of the finest driving experiences on offer today.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Faster and even more desirable than V8-engined R8, new V10 is the most expensive road vehicle in Audi history.

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