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Audi R8 5.2 V10 quattro

Click to view picture gallery“Apart from lots of disposable
  income, one thing a potential Audi R8
  V10 supercar owner must have is
  patience. With only 150 of the £100K
  two-door V10 coupes available this
  year and 1,000 deposits paid by
  potential UK owners, there is going
  to be a long wait for the 197mph
  mid-engined car

BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT because, V8 or V10, the Audi R8 is currently one of the world's great two-seater sports cars.

The R8's all-aluminium space-frame construction allows for the highest power-to-weight ratio of any supercar. The high-revving, direct-injection, 517bhp 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine is 31kg heavier than the 414bhp V8 unit. But despite the additional weight of the engine, the mid-engined layout, coupled with Audi's renowned quattro all-wheel drive system, means there's been no loss of balance — one of the R8's greatest features.

But it is the V10's immense torque output — 391lb ft at 6,500rpm — against the 317 of the V8 unit, which sets the two R8s apart. The V10's response is phenomenal: even in top gear, the larger unit just pulls like a train and overtaking is lightning fast. Maximum speed is 197mph and 0-62mph takes 3.9 seconds, marginally faster than the R8 V8 which tops out at 187mph and takes 4.6 seconds to get to 62mph from standstill.

The new unit, perhaps, does not enjoy such an infectious exhaust 'howl' as the V8; more of a growl or bellow. But sit back, drive and enjoy because you have a great engine, brilliant drivetrain, suspension and steering plus fantastic all-wheel drive grip and perfect balance.

R8 V10 prices range from £99,580 to £104,665. Whether the extra £19,755 for the V10 over the V8 is really worth it is purely down to the customer, but many will want the ultimate performance whether or not it can be used in real-life, or even used effectively with their driving skills.

The £20K price increase is shared roughly fifty-fifty between the more powerful engine and the added equipment and styling changes. Worthy of special note is that the R8 V10 features the world's first use of all-LED headlamps as standard. Other exterior lighting around the car remains LED as well. Audi's magnetic ride with adaptive damping is fitted as standard, as is a top-notch Bang & Olufsen audio system and satellite navigation.

All this equipment will still not stop customers going through the extra-cost option list. R8 owners add, on average, another £9,500 to the price of their cars in the form of accessories. Just so you know, even Bluetooth 'phone connectivity is a £410 extra-cost option.

Whether a customer chooses the six-speed manual gearbox or the R tronic semi-automatic sequential transmission is purely down to personal choice. One of the other great things about the R8, despite its genuine high performance, is its ability to be a car for everyday use: it doesn't do temperamental; it can be driven at low speeds in town, in a leisurely manner on open roads or very hard at track events — all without fuss.

For most drivers the auto gearbox option will be ideal for the daily commute or the long motorway cruise. Others will prefer the manual gearbox — which I did — not because it is £5,000 cheaper but because it gave me a better 'feel' for applying power and it was marginally smoother and progressive with no hesitation and abruptness between ratio changes.

Whether you choose the manual or automatic transmission, the 5.2-litre V10 engine emits considerable CO2: 327g/km for the semi-auto and 351g/km for the manual, putting them both in the new Band M vehicle excise duty grouping that costs £405 a year.

For pure entertainment value I can reveal to you that the fuel consumption for the R8 V10 manual model, during my brief test drive on public roads, was 18.6mpg. Impressive; the auto less so at 16.4mpg. Officially it should be 19.2mpg for the manual and 20.6mpg for the auto. The manual gearbox just coped better and more efficiently with what was asked of it.

So, is the R8 V10 flawless? I'll think of something, I'm sure… Oh yes, an expensive and less than smooth-changing auto gearbox. For? Just about everything including stunning performance that's user-friendly for everyday driving, immense grip, perfect balance, must-have supercar technology, beautifully built and a comprehensive specification in the cabin. No point, these days, leaving your money in the bank gaining no interest. You could do far worse than invest in an R8 V10. Go on, you know it makes sense! Well, not sense exactly, but it will give you lots of satisfaction — David Miles

Audi R8 5.2 V10 FSI quattro | £99,580
Maximum speed: 197mph | 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 18.6mpg
Power: 517bhp | Torque: 391lb ft | CO2 351g/km | Insurance group 20