Portimao Circuit, Portugal. It’s a place where car companies host the press events for their latest and greatest performance cars. I don’t know if it’s the circuit, the beautiful weather or the beautiful scenery, but performance cars look so much better there. This beautiful location is where some lucky folks had the chance to put the new Audi R8 V10 and V10 Plus through their paces. The jealousy meter is running high today.
Firstly, the new R8 is a stunning thing to behold. We recently spoke about how Walter de Silva, the original R8’s designer, was needed back at Audi to bring some life back into the designs. Well, this new R8 seems to have proved me wrong. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s surprising that the new R8 can actually be an improvement over the gorgeous original. It looks aggressive, yet elegant. The short front end, the low scuttle (thanks to its mid-engine layout) and fast sweeping roofline give the R8 the look and feel of a fighter jet. I also particularly love the much smaller side blades, which look considerably less ostentatious than the originals.
The interior is quite beautiful as well. Loads of quilted leather and contrast stitching adorn the far improved cockpit. The massive TFT screen that replaces the gauge cluster acts as the nav screen, so the dashboard can stay clean and low without a massive screen popping out of it. I also love the steering wheel, which looks strangely like a flat-bottomed Porsche 918 steering wheel. Overall, the new R8 seems like a lovely place to sit in for a couple of hours, blasting through Portuguese countryside.
But we could have discerned how good looking it was from home on a computer screen. Audi invited people to Portimao to show them how it drives. And, apparently, it drives well.
That massive 5.2 liter V10, shared with the mighty Lamborghini Huracan, sits behind your head pumping out only 540 hp in standard guise, with the V10 plus making a whopping 610 hp. Audi claims the R8 V10 Plus can hit 60 mph in around 3 seconds with a top speed of 205 mph. Power is sent through Audi’s latest 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox, with shifts taking less than 120 milliseconds, and put to the tarmac by all four wheels. Up to 100 percent of power is available to be sent to either axle if need be, thanks to Audi’s latest active version of Quattro all-wheel drive.
From the reports coming in, the new Audi R8 isn;t just a pretty face with a noisy engine, it’s got proper handling chops as well. The Quattro all-wheel drive keeps the R8 planted and flat through corners, with immense corner exit traction and power. Dive too fast into a corner and you can grenade the brake pedal, putting those carbon ceramic brakes to use (standard on the V10 Plus, optional for plebian V10). Yet despite being a track monster, on the back roads of Portimao’s beautiful countryside, the optional magnetorheological dampers can soften up and provide a supply ride for long distance cruising.
So the new R8 seems to excel at everything the original did, but does it all a bit better. Prices for the standard V10 car start at $182,000, while the V10 Plus starts at around $206,000. It could be it’s the gorgeous body lines, the glorious V10 or the beautiful scenery, but the new Audi R8 seems worth every bit of that price tag.
Photographs from Road and Track.