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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Audi R8 5.2 V10 include 5.2L V-10 540hp engine, 7-speed auto-shift manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), integrated navigation system, side seat mounted airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain 1st row overhead airbag, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 19" forged aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control.
Starting at: $162,900
With Audi’s Dynamic Select modes, the character of the car is flexible and versatile. In Comfort or Auto, it’s relaxed and very easy to drive. The S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox makes shifts that are perfect for everyday driving. There’s always power to spare, linear and constant, not arriving with a burst, like a turbocharged or supercharged car.
In Dynamic or Performance (which shuts off the traction control) mode, the R8 is ready for the track, ready for a top speed of 199 mph for the V10 and 205 mph for the V10 plus.
In Dynamic mode, the throttle response is quicker and so are the gearshifts; the dual-clutch transmission also holds the R8 in each gear for a longer time.
We’ve only gotten to drive a V10 Plus pre-production car. First thing you notice, after the brute acceleration (0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds will push your eyeballs back into your skull), is that the big carbon ceramic brakes can stop the car in such a short space that your eyeballs will pop back out. But they demand a light touch on the street.
Our pre-production R8 had the available active dynamic steering, which is quick and precise, but felt too light to us.
Approaching a corner, turn-in response is quick. If you enter a turn too quickly the R8 will understeer, and if you accelerate too hard through the turn it will oversteer, all as it should be. In a medium- or high-speed turn, grip of the Pirelli P Zero tires feels limitless, although of course it’s not, and if you believe it is you’ll come to grief. But if they do give up traction, as they did on us, the R8 recovers with relative neutrality and obedience. No matter the situation, the cornering limits are higher thanks to the all-wheel drive.
The supercar profile is low, cab forward, coupe roof arcing from the windshield to the carbon-fiber rear spoiler that raises at speed. The new R8 is 1.6 inches wider at the shoulders, with emphasis on its horizontal lines. The carbon-fiber side blades are now two pieces rather than one, and serve as air intakes.
The grille is a flat and wide three-dimensional trapezoid that flows into wedge-shaped LED headlamps. At the rear, LED taillamps match the shape of the headlamps.
The V10 Plus also has carbon fiber front and rear diffusers and black exhaust outlets.
The R8 interior is among the finest in its class. The materials are Audi quality with impeccable fit and finish. The sport seats are comfortable and supportive, with adjustable bolstering. The racing buckets in the V10 Plus are thinner, and thus allow more legroom, but the seatbacks don’t adjust. Both seats are fairly upright, affording good visibility through the windshield. Rearward visibility is poor thanks to the steep low roofline.
The V10 Plus has leather seats and dashboard, carbon fiber trim, aluminum pedals, and an Alcantara headliner. The stitching on the doors and dashboard is in black and the color of the body.
The cabin is small but comfortable, and roomy enough for two people in front, but not storage of much stuff. Even the front trunk is only big enough for a couple of overnight bags.
The 2017 R8 brings Audi’s new virtual cockpit, with a 12.3-inch screen in the instrument panel that keeps most of the controls directly in front of the driver, counting the steering-wheel switches. The screen is configurable to the information the driver chooses to see, while a button on the steering wheel allows viewing of things like the Google Earth navigation.
The virtual cockpit can still be controlled by the MMI on the center console, but passengers can’t access the sound system. Also, the screen is easy to see but in some cases it only shows one function at a time, so for example you can’t multi-task with navigation and radio.
The Audi R8 supercar brings its own qualities into the game against McLaren, Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and the discontinued Viper. They’re all worthy, so the call is up to you. However, we’re inclined to say wait for the upcoming R8 with a smaller turbo engine.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with driving impressions by The Car Connection.
Audi R8 comes standard with Nappa leather upholstery, black Alcantara headliners, heated power sport seats, LED interior lighting, Audi’s MMI Plus with Navigation infotainment system, magnetic ride damper control, 19-inch alloy wheels, and V10 engine.
The V10 Plus adds racing bucket seats and carbon ceramic brakes, and cuts the magnetic ride dampers in favor plain old shocks and springs, because they are stiffer.
Racy options include active dynamic steering with variable assist and variable ratios, and 20-inch wheels.