A supercar without the super-salaried baggage? That’ll be the Audi R8. A car gaining a reputation for being the thinking man’s hypermotor.
It’s driven by Premiership footballers with degrees. Company MDs who know the name of the tea lady. Nice sorts, in other words.
Problem is, until now, it’s not been quite super enough. Audi’s delicious 4.2-litre V8 is some engine, undoubtedly. But in the rarefied stratosphere of £100k cars – dominated by Lamborghinis, Ferraris and AMG Mercs – the R8 has up to now been a bit, well, inexpensive.
Bizarre argument to be having in a credit crunch, but the super rich play by different rules.
That’s all sorted now, though. Audi’s launched a faster R8. With more cylinders. More power. And for more money. Enter the R8 V10. The Italian supercar without the temperament.
We say ‘Italian’ for good reason. For what, deep down, is the R8 linked to? Why, the Lamborghini Gallardo, of course. It’s actually got more differences to the Lambo than even the cynics first believed, but the genealogy is there for all your service staff to see.
Until now, the V8’s been Audi-bespoke. We’ve also seen the mighty V12 TDI previewed, which will be another Audi-only model. But the V10? It’s that one out of the A8 and RS6. Yes, the very same 525bhp motor.
It’s different though, let’s get that straight right away. But we could only do this once we’d overcome the sheer impact it made. This car, you see, has it all. Epic noise, incredible tractability, huge charisma and, of course, power. Okay, it’s mainly power – 525bhp, delivered at a piercing 8,700rpm howl.
That’s a whole 105 brake more than the V8 version. It’s a naturally aspirated screamer in the true supercar mould. But, in the Audi tradition of sensible Germanic efficiency, there’s also tons of low-down torque to grunt you out of corners without hysterics. It’s delectable.
Pulling hard in any gear and simply getting stronger and more thrilling the closer you get to the redline. It’s smooth too, spinning with inertia-free keenness and a distinctive tone reminiscent of old V10 F1 cars. The 62mph dash takes 3.9secs – and double that in 12.3secs.
Differences to the Italians emerge in the way it drives, too. Never has true supercar pace been so accessible and usable. The R8 manages to feel both usable AND dramatic.
The steering alone deserves a prize. Firmly weighted but never heavy, it’s fast, direct and rich in detail without ever feeling twitchy or nervous.
The ride is perfectly judged too, with adjustable dampers (a £1,320 option on the V8) composed yet compliant, even in Sports mode.
Then there’s the quattro chassis that lets you lean hard on the power in any weather. It succeeds in making supercar novices feel like heroes without dumbing down the experience for more accomplished drivers.
The cabin is suitably spec’d up too, with much of what’s optional on the V8 coming as standard here. So the cabin feels worthy of the hundred-grand price tag. It’s a comfortable, user-friendly cockpit, though lacking practicality compared with the nominally two-plus-two 911.
Special note to the headlights though. It’s the first production car ever with all-LED beams, the twinkly diodes now more than a mere styling feature. It’s fantastic, this Audi.
The R8 V10 is much more than a cut-price Gallardo. It offers the perfect compromise between Porsche’s clinical efficiency and the fantasy of Lamborghinis. In short, we love it.
Audi R8 V10
Engine: 5.2-litre V10
Power: 525bhp, 530Nm
Ins: Group 20