This new V10 plus is an R8 special edition which forms a part of what Audi are calling a brand new version of this model, but in reality it’s more like a mid life makeover that consists of one major upgrade and several smaller ones. What is clear for all to see, however, that the fundamentals of a hand built supercar are still in place. This is a 2 seater boasting an aluminium space frame with a high revving petrol powered engine bolted into the centre of it.
It is being pitched against the Jaguar XK and the Porsche 911 and is the flagship model in the Audi 41 range, which comes with a starting price of £13,460 for the A1 Supermini and rises through the ranks until it tops out at £127,575 for the R8 V10 plus.
The major upgrade mentioned earlier is the replacement of the automatic gearboxes in all R8’s. Up until now, those were in the market for a self shifting Audi supercar had to put up with a manual R-tronic unit, which called for the driver to manually modulate the throttle between gear changes in order for them to make smooth progress in their journey, meaning that is was nothing like a traditional car to drive.
This was a very big chink in the armour of the R8 that seems to have been plugged now as this replacement gearbox is a compact, 7 speed, twin clutch unit which shifts between ratios in an instant, even though is it 15kg heavier. As previously, it can still run in full auto mode or alternatively controlled via the paddles that are mounted behind the steering wheel which is flat bottomed. You can, if you prefer, still get the 6 speed manual version on all models.
Back in 2006, when the R8 first appeared, the slinky design courtesy of walter-de-Silva made jaws drop in awe, so it comes as no surprise that little has changed in this area during the makeover. The hi-tech mix of domed roof and shark like nose remains aesthetically striking when compared to its rivals, the only downside being that the engine’s location means that you lose a lot of the practicality of a 2 plus 2 layout.
The design changes that have been made fall into the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them category, with rounded edges on the grille, new wing mirror covers and front bumper, and on both the R8 and the R10 there are oval exhaust trims. All the R8 models now have LED lights and rather than blinking the rear indicators now sweep, which is simple and very effective.
The upgrades in the cabin are just as subtle, with the dials now surrounded by splashes of chrome and the dash benefiting from a more extensive trim in leather. It remains as functional and curvy as before, but such is Audi’s rate of progress that you kind of notice what you aren’t getting rather than what you are. Within the R8, these omissions include an ultra wide but ultra thin multimedia display as well as a digital dashboard.
Nevertheless, the standard and quality of the build is exceptionally high, but then again you shouldn’t expect anything less when you are paying £90,000 for the cheapest model. That is an increase of around 4% on the last entry level R8, although Audi have said that this covers the £6000 of new equipment. The engine range also stays the same, with both V8 and V10 models available in petrol, and benefiting from natural aspirations.
The main event as far as this range goes is, of course, the V10 Plus. This car is an absolute gem, and with the extra power and oomph it is certainly a force to be reckoned with, even though it cost £12,000 more than the standard V10.