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REVIEW – Audi R8 V10 Coupe

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Audi R8 5.2 V10 Quattro 570PS Coupe
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.8

Summary

The Audi R8 is guaranteed to turn heads wherever you go, thanks to its thunderous 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 engine. Thankfully the noise will stop people looking too closely and discovering the excessive use of ‘fake’ venting – frustrating on a car like this. The cabin doesn’t feel overly special, but that’s not such a bad thing either: the Audi R8 feels comfortable, and familiar. Quattro all-wheel drive makes the power very usable.


Image Gallery

Exterior Styling

The latest Audi R8 – and what may well be the last, at least as we know it – has been given a nip and tuck to keep it looking on point. The results have seemingly split opinion amongst car fanatics.

This new model is muscular, angular and defined. It’s like the car’s been on a crash diet and is now sculpted and lean. Some will love that look; myself included. Others preferred the rounder, softer lines of previous models.

It’s the nose that bears the brunt of this sculpted look. It’s rather pointy, and aggressive-looking: certainly a formidable sight to see bearing down on you in your rear-view mirror.

There’s a large gaping grille, and the bumper lines are sharp and defined. Angled headlights, incorporating LED daytime running lights, make it look like the R8 is scowling. It means business.

Round the side there are more sharp lines, the most prominent of which lies towards the top of the doors. This forces air towards the sizeable intakes on the rear wings, and also allow the door handles to be hidden out of sight. Our test car had upgraded 20-inch alloy wheels.

The rear end design is much softer than the front. There’s a large grille to help the engine expel some heat, and two exhaust pipes so enormous you can practically fit your head into them. Being the ‘regular’ 570PS model there’s an adaptive rear spoiler incorporated into the bodywork.

Finished in crystal Ara Blue, our test car looked phenomenal. But it can’t score five stars in this category, for a simple reason.

The slots above the main front grille, outermost front bumper inserts, headlight accents and – most annoyingly – upper side blade area are all fake grilles. Blanks. And I’m sorry, but that’s unacceptable on a £130,000 supercar.

Interior Finish

The silver/rock grey interior on our Audi R8 test car was the perfect match for the Ara Blue exterior. It ‘popped’ in a way that no black/black/black interior could, giving the cabin a light and airy feel. Somehow, it also feels more opulent, and that exactly how a car like the Audi R8 should feel.

The shape of the seats is not overly exciting: pretty much the same as in the RS 4 and S5 models we’ve tested previously. There are optional bucket seats if you prefer.

Once you’ve taken your seat and are facing forwards, you’ll notice the minimalist dashboard. A slim dashboard, and fewer buttons than you’d expect in a car these days, give a focused feel. There’s certainly less to distract you.

The only display in the cabin is the Virtual Cockpit, which is still the best on the market. That being said, without an additional display in the dashboard it falls to the Virtual Cockpit to handle all settings menus. This is less intuitive than a touch-screen setup, and can be a bit fiddly switching between steering wheel and centre console controls.

There are plenty of small, but impressive, design touches incorporated into the Audi R8. A giant red engine start button on the steering wheel for one. And the gear selector which is like an aircraft thruster.

The cabin has a quality feel, but no more so than other Audi models. In a way, that’s a good thing. The Audi R8 feels approachable, and familiar. Which is imperative for a supercar to be usable every day.

But when you see the plastic gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel, you’ll be wishing for something a little less familiar. It may sound like a minor issue, but in the Audi R8 you’ll use those paddles a lot…

Engine/Performance

There are several reasons you may want to buy an Audi R8, but one stands out more than the rest: the engine.

Behind the driver is a 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 unit. In this entry-level version, it pumps out 570PS at a tantalising 8,100rpm. Torque is 560Nm. The Audi R8 Performance has an even more exciting 620PS and 580Nm.

Power is sent to all four wheels via a 7-speed S Tronic automatic gearbox. As a result the Audi R8 can put all of its power down with ease: 0-62mph takes just 3.4 seconds and the top speed is 201mph.

But the best thing about the 5.2 V10 is how it delivers that power. It revs quickly, with instant acceleration in any gear, at any revs. And with no turbos to optimise it can rev happily and freely, right up to an 8,500rpm red line.

Having no turbos is even better for another reason too: sound. With no turbos feeding off the exhaust gasses they are free to bellow out of the enormous tail pipes in all their thunderous glory. Put simply, the Audi R8 is one of the nicest-sounding cars currently on sale.

This is best enjoyed in manual mode, giving you full control of just how much of a sonorous soundtrack you want. Guaranteed, you will want to utilise the full rev range; as you get higher up it the noise kicks up another gear and sounds like a proper racing car.

Being an Audi, the R8 can also be quiet and comfortable. It’s very driveable at slow speeds, and in comfort mode the exhaust note shows restraint.

As the car industry shifts to electrification, there will soon be no place for an engine like this. And the roads will be a less-enjoyable place without it.

Ride/Handling

The Quattro all-wheel drive system is a wondrous thing. More than that, it makes the Audi R8 a balanced car. Not just great on the track, in the dry. But also great on a B-road, in the wet.

For the R8, the Quattro system is setup a little differently. Under general driving conditions the majority of the power is sent to the rear wheels, to provide an authentic sports car driving experience.

However depending on the road and weather conditions, 100% of the torque can be distributed to the front or rear axles. So when the conditions are sub-optimal, the R8 remains planted and capable of putting its power down.

Because the R8 is low, and has a wide track, body roll is non-existent. The steering is sharp, direct and nicely weighted. But feel is a little lacking, such that you never get proper feedback through the wheel.

It would be interesting to see if the bucket seats offer any more lateral support, because the standard seats don’t have the largest bolsters. They’re fine for road use, but I would want to feel more secure on the track.

The ‘regular’ Audi R8 makes do with steel brakes as standard. Don’t worry though, because they are a serious bit of kit: 365mm discs with 8-piston calipers at the front and 356mm discs with 4-piston calipers at the rear. That’s more than a match for the 5.2 V10, capable of bringing the R8 to a swift-yet-composed stop when required.

Some have said that the Audi R8 doesn’t feel special to drive. But it is reassuring, instilling confidence in the driver to push harder and corner faster. It’s secure; never giving the impression that it will bite. In other words, it drives like an Audi. For a supercar, that is pretty special.

Economy

After reading about the big, powerful 5.2-litre V10 engine with its 8,500rpm red line, you are probably wondering just how bad the fuel economy is.

Fear not though because you will be pleasantly surprised, as we were after a week with the car. Official figures claim combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle of 21.2mpg.

Impressively, our week with the car saw a figure higher than this. And that was with a disproportionately high amount of spirited driving, compared to how it would be if you owned one. Only having the car for a week, it had to be made the most of!

So why the better-than-expected economy? Well natural aspiration has a part to play in this. Turbos are effective at generating power and allowing for smaller engine sizes, but ultimately when the turbo is spooling more fuel and air is being rammed into the engine, and fuel consumption can actually be worse.

So when you’re on the motorway, and the revs are so low thanks to the 7-speed S Tronic gearbox, the Audi R8 is pleasantly efficient. And with an 83 litre fuel tank giving a theoretical range of 385 miles, your trips to the petrol station will be less frequent.

CO2 emissions are NEDC-equivalent 294 g/km. That’s with start/stop technology and all. Yes, the first-year rate of £2,125 seems like a lot. But then this is absorbed into the price of the car.

Subsequent VED will be the standard rate, currently £145. Obviously, the Audi R8 is subject to the VED surcharge in years 2-6, which is currently an additional £320 per year.

Practicality

The Audi R8 is often considered to be an ‘everyday’ supercar. One that is easy to drive, and easy to live with. But is that really the case?

Well for me, no, it isn’t. Because my family comprises me, my better half, our 2 year old daughter and a miniature schnauzer. Obviously, there’s no place in an Audi R8 for a dog. So he can stay at home.

But the 2-seat configuration means that either the wife or the daughter has to stay at home too. And a 2 year old can’t be left at home alone. Whenever we went out as a family we had to leave the R8 on the drive. And that just seemed a shame.

However, if two seats is enough for you, then the Audi R8 is a great car to live with. The boot – which is under the ‘bonnet’ due to the mid-engine configuration – isn’t the largest at 112 litres. But it is enough for a couple of overnight bags, and there is some storage behind the seats for coats and the like.

The Audi R8 is certainly easy to drive. It drives like any other Audi, so is smooth at low speeds, with seamless gear changes and a manageable throttle response.

Visibility is good to the front and sides, and the R8 is easy to judge at the near side. The rear view is a little restricted due to the engine being there. The large side blades mean over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t the best either.

Parking is easy thanks to a decent turning circle. That’s assuming you are brave enough to leave the Audi in a supermarket car park. My tip? Take your child – if you have more than one, pick your favourite – and make use of the lovely parent and child spaces!

Equipment

The Audi R8 comes with a generous specification. As, I suppose, it should, when you consider the price. But more on that in a moment.

There are two main trim levels, being the R8 and R8 Performance. Our car was the ‘regular’ one, although there isn’t much regular about it.

Standard specification is comprehensive, and includes all the creature comforts you might hope for. Keyless entry and go is standard, as is cruise control, folding door mirrors, auto lights, auto wipers, and full-LED exterior lighting.

The seats are finished in fine Nappa leather, and are heated for those chillier mornings. The seats are also electrically adjustable for extra convenience.

On the multimedia front, the entire system revolves around the 12.3-inch display of the Virtual Cockpit. There’s MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, Bluetooth connectivity, Audi Connect, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Phone Box wireless charging pad and a decent sound system.

When it comes to safety, the Audi R8 has plenty of tech to provide reassurance. First and foremost is the Quattro all-wheel drive system. In addition there is Audi Pre Sense Front collision avoidance system, two-stage Electronic Stability Programme and Audi Lane Assist.

To help with parking you get front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera which is displayed in the Virtual Cockpit.

The R8 Performance additions are, unsurprisingly, mostly performance-oriented. There’s carbon ceramic brakes, variable exhaust flaps, a fixed rear wing, bucket seats and a ‘Performance’ drive mode.

Value For Money

The Audi R8 Coupe, with its 570PS V10, costs from £128,295. And thanks to a generous standard specification there aren’t many options to choose from.

As is often the case with cars like this, the area where money can be spent is around personalisation rather than specification. You can opt for an Audi Exclusive paint finish, from £3,400. Or from £7,000 if you want a matt finish. The crystal Ara Blue of our test car is £1,500.

Red brake calipers are £500, and the optional 20-inch alloy wheels featured on our test car were a further £2,500. Whether you think they’re worth that money is down to personal preference, but we really like how they look; they would be a definite tick on our options list.

For £250 you can have a storage net which fits in the space behind the seats, and makes for a much more usable storage area. Given that the boot is on the small side, this is another must-have option. Finally, our test car had high beam assist at a cost of £175.

That takes the price of our test car to £133,220. Which, when you take a step back and consider what you’re getting, is exceptional value for money.

It’s less than half the cost of the McLaren 720S we tested recently. Yes, the McLaren is another step above in terms of performance, but the Quattro system levels the playing field somewhat in the real world.

And when it comes to the overall experience behind the wheel, few cars can match the audible euphoria that is the 5.2-litre V10 engine. If I had a car collection, an Audi R8 would be going in it for sure. Because in 10 years – maybe less – we will look back and wish cars like that still existed.

Facts and Figures

Engine 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 petrol
Max power 570PS at 8,100rpm
Max torque 560Nm at 6,300rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission, Quattro all-wheel drive
0-62mph 3.4 seconds
Top speed 201mph
Fuel tank size 83 litres
Fuel consumption 21.2 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 294 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,660kg
Towing capacity N/A braked / N/A unbraked
Luggage capacity 112 litres
NCAP rating Untested
Base price £128,295
Price as tested £133,220
Company website www.audi.co.uk/models/r8/r8-coupe.html

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