Audi R8 V10 Plus review

The Audi R8 V10 Plus. Just how good can an R8 be? DrivingTalk finds out

By Tim Kendall | 12th May 2013

Vital Statistics

  • Model: R8 V10 Plus
  • Engine: 5.2 V10 petrol (542hp)
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
  • Price: £125,900 (£130,800 as tested)
  • 0-60: 3.5 secs
  • Top Speed: 197 mph
  • Economy: 21.9 mpg (combined)
  • Options fitted to test car:
    See Text

DrivingTalk Roadtest: 2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Audi’s fruitier offerings are a bit hit and miss. Often afflicted with a curious juxtaposition of remoteness and unimpeachable point-to-point ability, but a total absence of ‘bite’ . So when the mid-engined R8 arrived in 2007 did anyone expect Audi to make a decent fist of its first supercar?

Well slap me about the face with a wet kipper if the folks from Neckarsulm didn’t do just that. Six years on though, has it gone a bit stale?

After a dabble with the new R8 V10 Plus, the current icing on Audi’s supercar cake, I’d say no. It’s rather fresh.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Audi R8 V10 Plus. A bit better than the standard V10

The Audi R8 V10 Plus. What is it?

Take an Audi R8 V10, a car well into the autumn of its life, and sprinkle its mid-engined haunches with a bit more power, less weight and some attitude. And the ludicrously unimaginative name ‘Plus’. That moniker is straight from the Spinal Tap ‘that’s one better than 10’ school of thought.

That’s what this is: the Audi R8 V10, but turned up to 11.

What’s special about the Audi R8 V10 Plus?

You may well ask. As did I when I nonchalantly hopped into the Plus having not acquainted myself with its vital statistics. Turns out I should have done my homework, because they’re quite impressive – the R8’s important numbers that is. You’d expect nothing less from a car that’s at least one better than an ordinary R8 V10.

For starters, that dry-sumped 5.2-litre V10 has been massaged to 542bhp and 398lb ft – increases of 24bhp and 7lb ft over standard V10 tune. A not insignificant 50kg has also been trimmed off the kerb weight, thanks to the use of composite body panels. Meanwhile, pinning all this firepower to the road is a lower, stiffer setup for the R8’s passive springs and dampers.

But is it really necessary to further hone the already superb and by no means slovenly R8 V10 into an even more toned and athletic package? Not just that, but a £130k (as tested) Audi? Actually it is, because it realises the potential of a superb car and a superbly balanced, secure chassis. And should it wish to, the Plus could nearly kick a Ferrari 458’s bottom quite comprehensively. On paper at least, and equipped with the seven-speed dual clutch ‘S-tronic’ transmission, this four-ringed slot racer can hit 62mph in 3.5 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds shy of the shoutier playboy’s toy.

In summary, it pulls off the line quite smartly.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Here I am exploring the R8 V10 Plus’s performance envelope on track. Probably.

What’s the Audi R8 V10 Plus like to drive then?

It’s really quite excellent.

Obviously this would be a pretty poor roadtest without a deeper analysis of the R8 V10 Plus’s dynamic repertoire and a thorough examination of its performance ‘envelope’*. Alas, I am not a ‘seasoned’ roadtester, so I’ll tell it in layman’s terms.

It’s immensely brisk. Should you wish to experience the kind of performance that makes you feel a bit ‘funny’, step this way. Should you wish to pull a planet out of orbit using a car, then the R8 V10 Plus is man enough. But it’s a biddable, friendly thing that won’t fire you off the road in a hail of expletives and broken composite panels. Thank Quattro for that.

In any gear the performance is probably more than a sane man could ever reasonably ask of a car. The V10 Plus also comes with carbon ceramic brakes – and these are very ‘Audi’. By that I mean there is the slightest hint of ‘grab’ as you feather the stop pedal, but once past that they bite savagely and progressively. Obviously, you could stamp on them all day long from silly speeds and they’d never fade. Such is the raison d’être of expensive carbon stoppers.

Oh, and the 5.2-litre V10 can sing a tune. A bassy, yet mellifluous and pleasant tune, yet with an edge. Sort of like Adele singing Guns ‘n’ Roses after a pack of Marlboro Reds.

Audi R8 V10 Plus wheels

There are many plusses to the R8 V10 Plus. Shiny black rims are just one of them. Well four of them.

Pudding or soufflé. Does the Audi R8 V10 Plus handle?

Yes it does. This may be a 542bhp supercar, but it doesn’t intimidate you. The Plus always feels planted, limpet-like and rock solid in its body control, very secure in the way it deals with bends. Yes, it’s also lithe and quite playful if you want it to be – but it never feels remote or lumpen. Just communicative, astonishingly quick and imbued with a character which is most un-befitting of the ruthlessly efficient and humourless stereotype some would pin on our German friends.

Audi R8 V10 Plus engine

5.2-litres of V10 magic

Options fitted to test car:

19″ 5-arm gloss black alloy wheels, alcantara headlining, Audi advanced parking system with reversing camera, cruise control and mobile phone preparation 

*This is the first and last time I shall ever use the term performance envelope in a car review.

Here’s a video of people with latex gloves fondling an R8:

 Audi R8 V10 Plus picture gallery

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Audi R8 V10 Plus review

  • Performance: 9/10
  • Ride & Handling: 9/10
  • Economy: 5/10
  • Equipment: 8/10
  • Want one factor: 10/10

The Verdict

So what's the DrivingTalk verdict? That name may be lame, but in a sense it's quite accurate. So the Audi R8 V10 Plus - it's definitely better than the Audi R8 V10. Which itself was already very good indeed. It's the zenith of the R8 , the realisation of the first four-ringed supercar in its most potent, impressive guise yet.

Summary

  • Mesmeric performance, easy to drive
  • Nope, not really.

By Tim Kendall
12th May 2013

Got an opinion? Don't be shy....