Audi recently announced a big update of the R8 sportscar during the 2018 Paris Motor Show, with the upcoming 2019 models gaining more powerful versions of its signature V10 naturally aspirated engine. In the meantime we test drove the current 2018 Audi R8 V10 Coupe and found it to be quite a car.
The current R8 is the second generation model introduced in 2016 with a number of updates, including a refined exterior design that looks more aggressive than the original and the use of LEDs for front or rear lights. The R8’s most iconic visual features have remained, like the side mounted air scopes and the electronically controlled rear spoiler.
As we’ve driven a number of Audi models this year, there’s quite a bit about sitting in the driver’s seat of the R8 V10 Plus Coupe that is quite familiar – specifically Audi’s MMI virtual cockpit on a large 12.3-inch TFT display and most of the driver controls, though as befitting its purpose in the R8 V10 there are additional data indicators including g-metre, lap timer, plus power and torque displays.
As befitting a two-seater sportscar, the interior is a big snug, but unlike some sports cars you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and the seats will comfortably accomodate big blokes over 185cm in height. There’s also isn’t much space in the front boot to carry anything bigger than a duffel bag, and anything you place there needs to endure the heat soak from the front-mounted radiators.
Starting up the R8 V10 Plus is simple – ensure the gear shift is in park, put hold down the brake and press the big red start button on the steering wheel. Once started wait a couple of minutes before driving off as the R8 V10 famously uses a racing-inspired dry sump lubrication system that takes a short while to pressurise.
Now a note about the glorious 5.2 litre V10 direct injection engine that sits behind you in the R8. It sounds absolutely wonderful! Power is available throughout the rev band with up to 540 PS (397 kW) available, and with 540 Nm torque at 6,500 rpm and throttle response is instantaneous. One particular feature of the Audi R8 V10 is a little button on the steering wheel that opens or shuts an exhaust flap. Activating this feature does not impact the car’s performance, but it does make the exhaust sound ‘sportier’. While it makes the car sound great when you’re driving through a tunnel or as the gears downshift while cornering, it’s very loud and kind of attention-seeking if you use it while waiting at the traffic light while driving down Orchard Road.
Having driven and reviewed a few sports cars in the past including the more powerful McLaren 12C I thought I could handle the Audi R8 V10, but driving the review car for a day made me doubt just how good a driver I think I am. The issue I had is with my perception of speed and reaction time – the R8 V10 Coupe is simply as responsive as a race car – the way the car accelerates or corners can catch you out if you’re used to the feel provided by ‘ordinary’ sedans, and even when you’re in comfort driving mode you’ll notice just how quick you can accelerate past 60kmh. The Audi R8 V10 Coupe really is a race-bred supercar that wants to go fast and go hard, and you have to be constantly mindful during daily driving not to drift pass the speed limits.
A true supercar that is really feels like it’s more at home on a race track than tooling around the CBD.