2016 Audi R8 V10 review
Isaac Bober’s first drive 2016 Audi R8 V10 review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The second-generation Audi R8 is faster, stronger, lighter and just plain better than the original… oh, okay, I’ll say it, it’s brilliant.
2016 Audi R8 V10
Price From $354,900+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Safety Not tested Engine 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 petrol Power/Torque 397kW/540Nm; 449kW/560Nm Transmission seven-speed S tronic Drive quattro all-wheel drive Body 4426mm (L); 1940mm (W); 1240mm (H) Weight 1630-1670kg Thirst 11.4-12.3L/100km
THE FIRST AUDI R8 hit the road in 2007 and I can still remember my first drive… that thing ran a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 and quattro all-wheel drive and still stands out as one of the best cars I’ve ever driven. And then a V10-powered R8 came along and, yes, it too was amazing but it was also a little more brutal, and so the V8 remained my favourite… until now.
What is it?
Thankfully Audi’s engineers knew they’d pretty much nailed the sports car concept with the original R8 and so haven’t fiddled too much with the thing. It still sits on an aluminium monocoque, although 13% of the Audi Space Frame is now carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic to make the thing more rigid (+40%) and lighter (-15%). Only, unlike before there’s no V8 option, just a V10. JUST A V10. Although it is available in two states of tune: R8 and R8 Plus.
The 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 is the same engine used in the first-generation R8 although it makes a lot more power now than it did before. In entry-level R8 ($354,900+ORC) trim it makes 397kW and 540Nm of torque, and in R8 Plus ($389,400+ORC) guise produces 449kW and 560Nm of torque. It’ll get to 100km/h between 3.5 and 3.2 seconds, respectively, making it the fastest production Audi yet (the RS 6 and 7 manage the sprint in around 3.7 seconds).
What’s it like?
Let’s build up to that… first, the looks. The new R8 V10 is an evolution of the old one, in every way, including the way it looks. That said, the new car is shorter (4.42m) and wider 1.94m and stands 1.24m high. The snout is sharper looking than before, the gaping vents in the front help feed cool air to the quattro all-wheel drive clutch to keep it from overheating, and the LED headlights can be cost optioned with Audi’s clever Matrix LED headlights, which feature “laser spots” that increase the length of high beam.
The easiest way to tell the two variants apart is the by the spoiler; the regular R8 has a lip on the trailing edge, while the R8 Plus gets a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic fixed wing. I prefer the look of the R8, but the performance of the R8 Plus. There are 11 exterior colours to choose from.
Climb inside and the quality is as you expect from an Audi, with a beautifully clean looking dash crafted from high quality materials and with a build quality few of its competitors can match. Visibility is pretty good for a mid-engined car and, as we’ve sampled on other Audis, the all-digital instrument display behind the steering wheel (doing away with analogue dials) is crisp and clear and absolutely excellent. There are only two seats in the Audi R8 and there are two types of seat you can have, one in the R8 is a sports seat that offers plenty of electronic adjustment and all the grip you could need even for spirited driving, while the R8 Plus offers a bucket seat with a fixed back, meaning no adjustment… We reckon buyers will go for the R8 Plus but option the seats from the R8.
There’s a small shelf (capable of holding 226 litres) behind the two seats that Audi reckons can take a set of golf clubs, but I’d hate to be the one that had to try and wrestle them in. This supplements the 112 litre luggage bucket under the front bonnet (remember, the engine is in the middle), which is more useful than you might think.
Now, back to the go-fast stuff. As we’ve explored the engine is a tweaked version of the old car’s 5.2L V8 that either makes a lot of power or A LOT of power. The drive is sent to all four wheels permanently, only this time it isn’t via a viscous coupling, rather the front/rear torque split is computer-controlled via a multi-plate clutch that can shuffle up to 100% of drive to the front or the rear as required. The nominal torque split is 42:58, although Audi says the R8’s quattro system doesn’t have “any fixed underlying distribution”. The rear differential can be fully locked via automatic computer control.
And if all this is starting to sound like you’ve read it all before, well, yes, you have… the R8 and the Lamborghini Huracan are remarkably similar.
While the old R8 could be had with a manual, there’s only a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission available now but it’s as smooth as you could hope for. Whether you leave it to its own devices, or take over and shift yourself using the paddles it’s a joy. I’d even suggest the defenders of the manual gearbox would struggle to argue against the S tronic in the R8.
The engine itself is a growly sounding thing with a note that gets harder and more angry sounding the harder the thing is driven, like other performance Audis we’ve driven. And the pop and hiss and crackle on downshifts are absolutely some of the best sounds I’ve ever heard. And it gets better when in its most raucous setting (Dynamic) which can be accessed via Drive Select (there are four modes, and three additional performance modes on the R8 Plus) which allows two flaps in the exhaust to open and let the full noise out. More than that just the noise, selecting Dynamic mode alters the suspension, throttle pedal response, steering speed, and gear shift points.
As great as the old R8 V8 was, this new one’s better. Audi chose the Snowy Mountains to launch the Audi R8 in Australia with a large chunk of the drive route being the well surfaced Great Alpine Road, and boy does this thing handle.
Indeed, there’s a level of adjustability that few of this car’s peers can match, and the turn-in is pin sharp. And unlike other cars in this segment, it tends to flatter the driver rather than try and fight against you. Yep, fluff a corner (arrive too fast, for instance) and this thing will do its damnedest to get you around in one piece. Don’t for an instant think I’m suggesting this thing will do all the work for you and allow you to simply go along for the ride… you do have to work the R8 to get it to perform and, push it hard enough and it will understeer, a bit, but you’d have to be pushing it very hard indeed for that to happen. It really is a hoot to drive fast.
The steering in the R8 is a new electro-mechanical system (EPAS) and these are getting better and better – offering good straight-line stability and nice weight and manoeuvrability when having fun, while there’s just enough feel to keep you dialled into the car’s doings. You can pay extra for dynamic steering, but we didn’t get to test this out at the launch and the standard steering is fine – save the money.
The standard R8 gets Audi’s magnetic ride system which offers adjustable dampers to suit the driving mode selected. We sampled this and fiddled around with the various driving modes and you can indeed feel the difference, but the one constant was the way the system was able to filter out the worst of the roads lumps and bumps, and that’s even in its most focussed (read: firm) Dynamic setting. The R8 V10 Plus gets stiffer springs and dampers (although it can be optioned with magnetic ride) and this isn’t as ‘hard’ as you might think. The R8 Plus will still soften the worst of the road, but it adds an elevated sense of agility to the R8’s movements. Both suspension types, however, dial out body roll even at ludicrous speeds. And the brakes, wow, especially the carbon-ceramic brakes on the R8 V10 Plus (a $20,300 cost option on the R8 V10), although there’s nothing wrong with the standard brakes on the R8 V10.
Beyond the brakes, the R8 V10 gets airbags for the driver and passenger, side airbags, seat-mounted and side head level curtain airbags. It also offers stability and traction controls, quattro all-wheel drive, anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock, electromechanical park brake and a collapsible steering column. There’s also an alarm, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera. Neither ANCAP or EuroNCAP has tested the Audi R8.