New Audi R8 V10 first drive

Audi R8 V10

Audi R8 V10Around 300 units of the all-new Audi R8 V10 hand-built supercar will arrive with UK customers in the remaining weeks of this year with first deliveries taking place now.

Only around 450 will be available to the UK market in 2016 and already there is a five months delivery time.

The first 30 UK customers who placed an order for the new R8 from June after its reveal in show reveal in March, were flown by Audi in a private Jet to the South of France last week for a two day test driving experience with the new 205mph supercar before their own new purchase arrives. All UK owners of the new R8 will be eligible for a complimentary one day Audi Driving Experience at Silverstone race circuit.

Prior to the customer driving experience in France the UK media test drive programme was held at the same venue where Jon Zammett, head of public relations said, “The new R8 is a show of strength, it is a brand defining model. It is the fastest and most powerful Audi production car to date. Our UK market is the second largest in Europe for R8 sales, just behind Germany and we are in the top four global markets.”

Katie Purcell, Audi’s UK product manager for R8 said “The number of new R8s we could sell is restricted because we are governed by the amount that can be built. Being largely hand-built only around 30 a day are produced for global markets. We do not anticipate initially selling more than the outgoing car as the number of variants is less this time around. There is no V8 engine option and no manual gearbox option either as only 1% of past customers wanted a manual transmission. We do expect the range to expand in the future as we anticipate there will be a Spyder version as well as the R8 e-tron if right hand drive production is confirmed.” This all electric version with two electric motors will cover 280-miles on a single charge. Power output is 462hp, with 920Nm of torque and a zero to 62mph acceleration time of 3.9-seconds.

She added, “The V10 normally aspirated petrol engine has been the core signature for the R8 in the past so with limited supply we have to concentrate on what customers want. The market sector is growing but so are the numbers of competitor models. These vary from the BMW i8 Hybrid to the Aston Martin Vantage S, the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 540C/570S and to come is the Honda NSX.”

When the original first generation Audi R8 arrived in 2007 it propelled the brand into the supercar sector with its two-seater, mid engine, coupe design with its race-bred engine performance, outstanding handling and stunning styling. But perhaps its greatest asset was that although being a gorgeously styled supercar, despite having only two seats, it was a potent coupe that was an easy-to-live-with everyday car just as useable being driven at low in town speeds as it was on the race-track. The original road version spawned the later race car but this time around the new R8 is based upon the latest LMS GT GT3 race version. Both versions are produced alongside each other in a new production facility in Heilbronn Germany. Around 56% of the components are common to the road and race versions.

The original R8 came to market with a normally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 430bhp petrol engine and was joined later by a 5.2-litre non-turbocharged V10 petrol unit which most UK customers opted for with 525bhp or 550bhp in Plus form.

Audi R8 V10Audi R8 V10Audi R8 V10Audi R8 V10Now the second generation R8 has arrived and this time around it comes with just the 5.2-litre V10, cylinder-on-demand petrol engine but with a choice of two states of tune – the 533bhp version or V10 Plus with a huge 601bhp. Both versions use a combination of direct and indirect fuel injection but are non-turbocharged and have no supercharger. All new R8s are quattro all wheel drive and have a seven-speed twin-clutch auto gearbox. A new freewheeling or ‘coasting’ function is built into the transmission to boost fuel economy efficiency together with the cylinder-on-demand function. The newly developed quattro drive system can in extreme cases deliver up to 100% of torque to the front or rear wheels and now the quattro power distribution can also be tuned by the driver using the Drive Select system.

The lesser-powered V10 costs from £119,500 with the V10 Plus costing £134,500. These prices range between 1.5 and 3.5% more than the previous models. Audi UK expects 60% of customers to order the V10 601bhp Plus model. Historically around 90% of UK sales for the R8 go to retail customers with a typical owner being male aged 48 years, but Audi point out it isn’t always the male that actually drives the R8.

The new high revving 5.2-litre petrol engine produces its maximum power outputs at 8,250rpm with maximum torque of 540Nm, or 560Nm for the Plus version, developed at 6,500rpm. They are the fastest production cars ever from Audi with 198mph and zero to 62mph taking 3.5-seconds for the standard V10 and by comparison in Plus form – 205mph and 3.2-seconds.

Also by comparison the V10 returns 24.8mpg in the official Combined Cycle with CO2 emissions of 272g/km, The V10 Plus weighs in with 21.9mpg and 287g/km. In both cases the VED road tax is £1,100 for the First Year rate and £505 for the following years. Company executives will pay the maximum 37% rate for Benefit-in-Kind tax and of course insurance is the maximum Group 50 for both models.

Those are the statistical facts. At a quick glance the new R8 looks very similar to the original but it is 15% lighter and 40% more rigid due to the monocoque space frame body using an aluminium structure with carbonfibre-reinforced plastic used in key areas. The new R8’s engine, transmission and body structure are the same as used by the Lamborghini Huracan, a £181,000 supercar two door, two seater coupe, which comes from the Volkswagen Group’s house of brands.

The new R8 shape looks wider, more muscular and so flatter to the ground but the side silhouette is similar. More muscular wheel arches and the bolder side air intake blades for the mid engine add to its new racier image. LED lights are fitted front and rear and the headlights can be further enhanced by the £3,000 optional laser spots for the high beam mode which give an extended field of vision and increased brightness and operate at speeds above 37mph. The V10 has an electronically deployed rear spoiler, the V10Plus has a larger permanently deployed carbonfibre spoiler. At the rear is an underbody diffuser and the front is enhanced by a spoiler lip beneath the large grille which is flanked by huge air inlets for the brakes and to smooth airflow under the bodyshell. Nineteen inch alloys are standard but 20-inch ones are an option for the first time. As usual there us a wide range of options including a £600 rear camera, gloss carbon finish for the engine bay viewed through the glass engine cover at £2,950, magnetic ride adjustable suspension control at £1,600 and dynamic steering at £1,200.

The two seater interior has Audi’s highly praised virtual cockpit with digital instruments and the 12.3-inch display screen right in front of the driver. The new flat bottomed steering wheel now has extra ‘satellite’ buttons controlling the Drive Select function and the engine start-stop button. On the V10 Plus there are two more steering wheel buttons, one controls the exhaust’s sound system, the other the ‘performance mode’ of choice. Audi’s MMI navigation and Audi Connect for internet services are fitted as standard. As always the interior is Audi’s usual high quality with leather upholstery, electronically adjustable and heated front seats. The V10 Plus has body hugging sports bucket seats and the V10 the seats are slightly less snug fitting. There is a small shelf behind the front seats backs claimed to give 112-litres of space and at the front end under the bonnet is 226-litres of boot space, enough for two small soft overnight bags.

Audi R8 V10When it comes to driving the new R8, just like the outgoing models, it is ‘an experience’ not to be missed. The major plus point for me has always been the way the R8 has always been an easy two-seater supercar car to live with no temperamental tantrums from the driver or car. It coped just as easily with slow monotonous day-to-day commuter driving just as it did with out-and-out performance such as track-day work. The new one is even better. In the past the V8 engine was marginally sweeter to use, more refined, smoother than and almost as responsive as the harsh V10. Now that smoothness and refinement has been worked into the new V10 unit. Yes, depending on which mode is selected, it barks, it sings, it crackles, but it remains responsive from being docile at low speeds with an immense linear power delivery to its screaming top revs at over 8,250rpm. The seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic auto transmission gives changes up and down the ratios in a fast and smooth way enhanced by the blipping of the throttle on downshifts.

Having all that power and immediate response is not so desirable if the driver is unable to handle a situation through over exuberance or lack of driving skills. To offset that situation the latest R8 can take care of that where possible with numerous driving modes for the driver to select from backed up by the clever computer controlled quattro all-wheel drive system which sorts out the handling and grip on winding roads. With its lighter weight the new R8 is more agile, it’s quick to turn into corners and provides masses of well balanced grip through corners and under hard acceleration. The new but optional dynamic steering system feels relatively light but it did provide good feedback. The carbon-ceramic disc brakes which are standard on the V10 Plus are superb.

All those technical functions were pushed into prolific use when driving the V10 Plus versions provided for last week’s Press launch using the relatively traffic free, but narrow, winding, hilly and sometimes wet roads of the South of France. Even with the V10 Plus having a maximum speed of 205mph and zero to 62mph taking 3.2-seconds, we Journos and all the test cars returned to the hotel in one piece – technology works.

Overall the new Audi R8 is a great and very fast supercar, but it is also a great everyday car, providing you can live with poor rear quarter visibility and little space for luggage. Look for the TV advert and enjoy the soundtrack.

MILESTONES: Audi R8 V10 Plus quattro 2-seater Coupe, (best selling version). Price: £134,500 (as tested £153,750). Engine/transmission: 5.2-litre, V10, normally aspirated direct and indirect petrol fuel injection, cylinder-on-demand, 601bhp (610ps) at 8,250rpm, 413lb ft (560Nm) of torque at 6,500rpm, 7-speed S tronic auto, quattro all wheel drive. Performance:
205mph, 0-62mph 3.2-seconds, Combined Cycle 21.9mpg (14.7 to 20.8mpg on test), CO2 287g/km, VED road tax £1,100 First Year rate then £505 thereafter, Benefit-in-Kind company car tax maxim rate at 37%. Insurance group: 50. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: Mid engine, 2-door, 2-seater coupe, L, 4,426mm, W 1,940mm, H 1,240mm, front boot 226-litres. For: Immense power, blistering performance, iconic exhaust soundtrack, a supercar for everyday use. Against: Expensive to buy, to run and to insure, limited rear quarter visibility, little boot space. Miles Better News Agency

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