What is it?
The second-generation of the R8, the car that proved Audi could make a world-class sports car.
The first R8 arrived in 2007 with four-wheel drive, an aluminium structure and a naturally aspirated V8 engine that revved to the heavens. At the time we’d just been assaulted by the excellence of the RS4, the R8 was nonetheless revelatory. A V10 was added later, and that was superb, too.
This second-gen car, then, has a hefty amount to live up to, which might explain why Audi hasn’t opted to change the formula too much.
There’s still an aluminium monocoque, only with carbonfibre-reinforced plastics in key places to increase rigidity by 40% and reduce weight by 15% over the old model. The V10 is back, too, though not the V8. Shame. We always thought that the V8 was the marginally sweeter-handling car. The V10 remains in 5.2-litre form but with more power than before. In its standard guise it receives 532bhp or, as tested here as the V10 Plus, it gets 601bhp. With a top speed of 205mph and a 0-62mph time of 3.2sec, it’s the fastest production Audi yet. Cor.
The V10 still drives through a four-wheel-drive transmission and exclusively through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (there is no manual option), while the four-wheel drive system itself no longer has a viscous coupling to divert power around, but instead uses a multi-plate clutch that can divert 100% of power to either end.