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Audi R8 V10 Plus 5.2 FSI

Click to view picture gallery“Audis latest mid-engined R8 range
  offers drivers a choice of open or
  closed two-door, two-seater bodies
  (Coupe and Spyder convertible)
  along with a choice of potent petrol
  engines: 4.2-litre V8 (424bhp), 5.2-litre
  V10 (517bhp) and, just introduced,
  the V10 Plus
with a 542bhp punch...


ALL R8 MODELS have that all-important quattro all-wheel drive system as standard, and are available with the choice of a 6-speed manual or the new 7-speed S tronic twin-clutch auto transmission which marginally reduces CO2 emissions and speeds up the zero to 62mph acceleration time by 0.3 seconds.

It's much faster acting, literally firing in the gear ratios seamlessly, and a big improvement in refinement over the previous automated clutchless manual system. Mating the V10 Plus power with this new quickshift transmission gives staggering performance but at the same time the car remains flexible to use in everyday driving.

“Mating the V10’s 542bhp
with the new quick-
shifting 7-speed S tronic
twin-clutch autobox
gives staggering
performance
but at
the same time the car
remains flexible to use in
everyday driving.
..”
Prices range from 92,710 up to 128,710 for the Coupe (101,360 to 125,360 for Spyder models) for which you get top speeds ranging from 187 to 197mph, depending on the engine chosen. While the R8 Spyder has the 424bhp V8 and 517bhp V10 powerplants with manual/auto options, the 542bhp V10 Plus version is only available in the Coupe bodystyle.

Quickly skipping through the cosmetic changes, the R8's weight-saving aluminium body (with some composite components and a space frame structure) has some new external highlights: a new grille and bumper V10 versions have a glass-fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) front splitter. All versions now have LED headlights as standard.

The iconic V10 Plus engine visible through the rear screen is also illuminated by LEDs. R8 fans may remember that this latest engine featured in the R8 V10 Plus mid-engine bay television commercial with its quickfire acceleration, blipping gearchanges and over-run images. But more importantly, for petrolheads, was the soundtrack to the commercial.

LED lights also dominate the rear of the R8 and it now sports a repositioned diffuser which in the V10 Plus Coupe is also made from GFRP. In all engine versions the exhaust system terminates in two round, glossy tailpipe trim sections but painted black on the R8 V10 Plus, which also runs on 19-inch, 5-spoke alloys.

Inside the latest versions the R8 badge appears on the gearshift lever, in the door sill trims, in the instrument cluster and in the start screen of the on-board monitor. In the R8 V10 plus it also appears on the flattened rim of the leather-covered, multifunction sports steering wheel.

The instrument cluster itself has been reworked and the shift-paddles have been further improved. The centre console, the surround for the radio/navigation system and the handbrake lever are now covered with stitched leather. On the downside, owners will still have to pay an extra 225 if they want cruise control added to the specification which really is penny-pinching by Audi.

“Audi magnetic ride
adaptive damping
is standard for the V10
and offers a normal
mode and a sports mode.
In normal mode
the V10 Plus is stunning;
in sports mode
it is brutal but relatively
controllable thanks to
the quattro grip.
..”
The V10 Plus 5.2-litre FSI Coupe's petrol engine develops 542bhp and maximum torque of 398lb ft at 6,500rpm. It's a naturally aspirated, direct injection, four-valves-per-cylinder DOHC unit and mated to the S tronic transmission it propels the Coupe version from rest to 62mph in just 3.5 seconds and on to a maximum 197mph.

Official Combined Cycle fuel economy is 21.9mpg and on my spirited but legal test drive around the North Cotswold roads, the real-world figure was 19.1mpg. Unfortunately the 299g/km CO2 emissions mean first year road tax is a whopping 1,065, but it does drop to 490 for year two onwards.

When it comes to stopping the V10 Plus, ceramic disc brakes are standard and, thankfully, they are really progressive but powerful with good feedback through the pedal.

For the R8 V10 Plus the springs, shock absorbers and front suspension geometry have been specially tuned and adapted from their motorsport experience. Audi magnetic ride adaptive damping is standard for the V10 models (optional for the V8) and offers a normal mode and a sports mode.

In normal mode the V10 Plus is stunning; in sports mode it is brutal but relatively controllable thanks to the quattro grip. Adding to the driving pleasure is the firm but precise and sensitive feedback from the power steering.

What with all-wheel drive, a mechanical differential lock and the traction control, grip levels are immense and, being a mid-engine layout, the balance is more or less perfect. Having just spent a week driving the new F-Type Jaguar, I have to say the latest Audi R8, even in its 4.2-litre specification, leaves the Jag standing.

This is not just in terms of speed or acceleration but, more importantly, in terms of road-gripping performance and composed ride control. The quality of the updated interior of the latest R8 is hugely better than the F-Type. That said, the F-Type has price on its side however, in real-life for the affluent people who buy these supercars, price sensitivity is not the most important consideration it is performance and brand image that drive the buying decision.

“Having just spent
a week driving the new
F-Type Jaguar,
I have to say the latest
Audi R8,
even in its 4.2-litre
specification, leaves the
Jag standing.
..”
And what a great deal buyers get: ageless mid-engined two-door coupe design, brilliant build quality, uprated interior, a howling exhaust note plus fantastic performance with quattro grip and powerful brakes to match. And a quickfire, seamless auto transmission that makes the V10 Plus a perfect supercar, one that's capable of slow road use through to fast track days. Anything against? Yes: having to pay extra for cruise control at this price seems rather mean.

The R8 replacement will, in due course, have a lower CO2 emission power-source forced upon it by EU legislation, potentially a less 'antisocial' hybrid unit with a smaller capacity turbocharged petrol engine. Just the same route as F1 has gone for 2014. But will it be as satisfying to own, drive, or hear the wailing exhaust tone? Absolutely not.

With lower Euro 6 emission levels due in 2015, I wonder just how long Audi can keep their extreme performance engines like the petrol V8 and V10s available to us. For connoisseurs of high-performance supercars it's better to buy now, while you still can, than not at all in the future.
— David Miles

Audi R8 V10 Plus 5.2 FSI | 128,710
Maximum speed: 197mph | 0-62mph: 3.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 19.1mpg
Power: 542bhp | Torque: 398lb ft | CO2 299g/km