Audi R8 V10 Plus
In terms of all-weather aptitude and day-to-day usability the Porsche 911 Turbo S has generally been in a class of one, but the Audi R8 V10+ has given it a very good run for its money in recent years. The new, second-generation R8 picks up where the previous version left off – it remains a mid-engined, four-wheel drive supercar, but the numbers are more impressive than ever.
Peak power is now 602bhp, which arrives at a spine-tingling 8250rpm. Audi quotes 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and 205mph flat out. These are figures that promote to the R8 to the supercar big leagues.
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The R8 has the dynamic ability to match its straight-line performance, too. It squeezes tremendous grip out of a track surface and the four-wheel drive system very cleverly shuffles torque to where it can be best utilised. The impression you get from behind the wheel of the R8 is that you can drag yourself out of the most ludicrous slides simply by keeping your right foot pinned on the throttle.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
It’s very well equipped to show the 911 Turbo S the way around a circuit, then, but these Porsches always set mind-bendingly quick times on track. The 911 is down on power – its 552bhp is a full 50 points short of the R8 – but its twin-turbo flat-six delivers massively more torque than the Audi’s normally aspirated V10: 553lb ft plays 413lb ft. Porsche quotes 3.1 seconds to 62mph, which we reckon to be conservative, and a 198mph top speed.
Where the R8 can feel very sharp-edged on circuit the 911 is friendlier and more progressive. It’s like drifting a bear hug. You’ll see in the video how controllable the Turbo S is when it slides.
The Bedford Autodrome was so slick and slippery during this shoot that even with their four-wheel drive system both cars basically skated around the circuit all day long. The rain was on and off – and never particularly heavy – but the track surface just didn’t dry out at all.
The braking zone for the first corner was particularly treacherous. Lap after lap I’d come around the final corner, cross the start/finish line and brake much earlier than I would in the dry. Every single time, though, I’d have a heart stopping moment as the cars immediately triggered their ABS systems, tyres seemingly finding no purchase whatsoever. It’s amazing how quickly the human brake rationalises the ‘tyre wall or gravel trap’ conundrum in that moment of panic.
I won’t give away the winner now, but I will say the lap times were among the tightest we’ve ever set in a Deadly Rivals shootout.