German carmakers have a reputation for solid performance and reliability. Their sports cars tend to be evolutions of their saloon cars. While motorsport is embedded in their DNA, the manufacturers seldom venture into the realm of the exotic sport car. Not Audi. In 2003, after some years dominating endurance racing, the marque announced its intention to establish a foothold in exotic sport cars by unveiling a concept car. Three years later, Audi’s performance division, Quattro GmbH, delivered the R8 road car, which has been a roaring success, with more than 26,000 produced in the past 10 years.
The R8 has received subtle upgrades over the years. It started life with a 4.2-litre V8 that produced 414bhp, 430Nm of torque and a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.6 seconds—supercar performance at the time. The V8 was later upgraded to a 5.2-litre V10 that knocked almost a second off the 0-100km/h dash.
And now comes a new generation that pushes the boundaries. The “basic” 5.2-litre R8 V10 generates 533bhp and 540Nm of torque, delivering 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds— with fuel efficiency 13 per cent better than the previous generation. If that’s not enough, there’s also the V10 Plus, which boosts power to 602bhp and torque to 560Nm, cutting the 0-100km/h dash to 3.2 seconds.
The V10 Plus is immediately identifiable by the carbon-fibre rear wing, which generates 140kg of downforce at the R8’s top speed of 330km/h—the highest top speed of an Audi road car. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a racetrack to test it on the day I take the V10 Plus for a drive. Other additions over the regular V10 include ceramic brake discs and three more performance modes—for dry, wet and snow conditions—to adapt the car’s electronics to the conditions or your mood. There’s also stiffer, sportier suspension and a plethora of aesthetic detailing in carbon fibre, inside and out, to differentiate the Plus from the regular R8.
Read more about this magnificent German technology supercar in Indonesia Tatler October 2016 edition.
(Text by Sean Li)