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Audi R8 review - The best everyday supercar on sale?
The original Audi R8 was one of the great surprises of the previous decade. From a company known for building fast but lifeless performance cars here was a genuine rival for the timeless Porsche 911. The second-generation model has an enormous amount to live up to, then, and the good news is it more than meets expectations.
Some of the purity of the original’s styling has been lost to this new version’s angular aesthetic, but on the road it still looks suitably menacing. The cabin, meanwhile, is a triumph with an evocative seating position and high-quality materials.
The chassis retains the sense of lightness and immediacy that made the first R8 such a pleasure to drive and the Quattro four-wheel drive system finds massive traction without ever making the car feel leaden or lifeless. The normally aspirated V10 is one of the most thrilling performance car engines at any price point.
There’s no V8 engine option for the second-generation R8. Instead, Audi offers two versions of the same 5.2-litre V10 – the entry-level model costs £119,500 and returns 533bhp while the Plus model costs £134,500 and develops 602bhp. The Spyder is expected to arrive late in 2016.
‘While other supercar manufacturers, including Porsche and Ferrari, swap out their normally-aspirated engines for downsized, turbocharged units, Audi is persisting with the high-revving V10. It’s a phenomenal engine; the beating heart of the R8. It is a pity that there’s no longer a manual gearbox option, although the twin-clutch S tronic is one of the fastest shifting gearboxes I’ve ever experienced.’ – Dan Prosser, road test editor
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> Performance and 0-60mph time - Performance is absolutely blistering but particularly so in the V10 Plus. If anything, with that V10 soundtrack, it feels faster than it is.
> Engine and gearbox - A 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 in two power outputs, with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. One of the best engines on the market.
> Ride and handling - Agile and poised, and happy to play on cue. Dynamic Steer isn't perfect (but better than it was), and does lack the tactility of the previous model.
> MPG and running costs - It's a supercar, so expect supercar costs. Fuel economy isn't bad for a 5.2-litre V10 but hardly parsimonious, and tyres can be expensive.
> Prices, specs and rivals - Competes in a varied and highly talented class. Its toughest challenge is the McLaren 570S, which recently beat it in a group test.
> Interior and tech - One of the best cabins in any car right now. Great driving position and view out, high quality, and lifted by Audi's Virtual Cockpit dials.
> Design - Perhaps not quite as cohesive as its predecessor, but every inch an R8 and attracts mostly positive attention.