- We like...Looks, speed, easy to drive slowly
- We don't...Scary power
Supercar gains even more power - and a £20,000 price hike. Time to chop in that Porsche 911 Turbo?This car costs £100,000. More, if you pick it with an auto gearbox or tick any of the many optional extras boxes on the order form. For that you get an Audi – albeit a very special one – that has just two seats, and luggage space that amounts to no more than a deep slot under its bonnet.
A good buy? Plenty of the very well-heeled think so. The R8 V10 is only just on sale, but already 150 souls have paid for their cars, lingered over its colour chart and spec sheets and now await delivery by the year-end. There are, Audi says, a further 1000 who have laid deposits and expect to see theirs sometime next year. Walk into a showroom now, place an order, pay, and you’ll be lucky to get the keys before 2011.
As you’ll have guessed, this is Audi’s R8 with a bigger, punchier engine. You get two extra cylinders, giving an extra litre of cylinder capacity and taking the count up to 10. That means an extra 100bhp, taking the total up to 512bhp. Sixty miles-per-hour comes up in under four seconds from rest and the car is capable of 197mph. That’s 10mph faster and seven-tenths of a second more accelerative than the ‘regular’ R8, which costs £20,000 less.
To look at and sit in, it appears little different from other R8s. The elaborate and beautiful wheels are unique and there are neat little V10 badges on the car. But otherwise it looks no more (or less) handsome.
But is there a big difference in the drive? Starting up, you twist a surprisingly plain-looking fob and key in a conventional lock. The instrument pointers execute a little wiggle-and-back dance across the dial faces, bouncing off their stops. And then the engine erupts. The race-car blare of the first seconds settles to a cultured beat. You pick first across a machined metal gate – as you’d find in a Ferrari – you drop the hand brake lever, feed in the clutch and you are off. Unlike others having such an (almost daft) amount of power, the car is docile on a light throttle and will feed through town traffic obediently, responding to a light touch on wheel, gears and pedals. Only its poor turning circle and restricted rear vision argue against its use for a trip to the shops.
Its cabin is snug and possibly no good if you’re too stout but very comfortable if you’re regular-sized. So far, the 'regular' R8 and the V10 have little other than price to mark them apart.
But, flex your ts against the throttle and the car slams itself toward the horizon. I don’t think we used every ounce of its power in the two hours that we drove it. But what we did find is, frankly, terrifying. All the more so because the R8 is just so efficient, so effective at laying such accelerative force through its four tyres without drama, squirm or even so much as a wheel-chirp. In that it keeps company - and pace - with its arch rival, Porsche's 911 Turbo.
There’s endless cleverness in its ability to operate normally and at extremes that comes in its intricate engineering, its aluminium chassis and the evident care with which it is assembled. Is it worth its price? The only answer we’ll find is yes, it is to the few who can do more than dream of owning one. And, for Audi, it lifts the make’s profile as builder of exceptional cars.
To view and buy new and used Audi R8s, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines5.2-litre petrol V10
- 0-60 mph3.9sec
- Insurance groups20
Motors.co.uk value verdict: