The New Audi R8v10 Plus has been around for a while now, and has been gathering heaps of praises the world over. We took it out for a day, put it through its paces in the urban lifescape with Indian context and came back astonished.
Let’s face it, very few owners are likely to prep up their R8s and take it to a track. That we only have BIC as an option, makes the case even more discouraging. So, that leaves the R8 with very few duties, that of being flaunted on weekends or late night blasts. Probably Audi understands this, perhaps the reason that the R8 is a super comfortable coupe with supercar performance.
Officially the new R8 is in its 2nd Generation since its debut back in 2008, when it came with a 4.2 litre V8, most importantly a purist appeasing 6 speed manual transmission – a proper old school stick shift. The face lifted 7 speed DCT made its appearance in 2012 with a 540bhp v10. So, does that make the 2017 spec R8 a third generation?
The alliance with Marvel`s Iron Man franchise seemed apt personification of the earlier R8`s design. The glamorous styling was easily coherent with Tony Stark`s persona – genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. The 2nd Gen R8’s design seems to have matured, the flair has been toned down, the ‘playboy’ tag can be safely dropped now. It’s grown into a well-respected socialite without losing the other tags, more of a Bruce Wayne than a Tony Stark.
The new R8’s front hints of the e-tron inspiration with the hexagonal honeycomb mesh grille in Anthracite gloss gray finish, lending it a rather staid look. Gone is the splashing of bling-y chrome bits, more functional looking elements make an appearance now. The large air intakes on either side of the front apron feed air onto the remote radiators nestled behind the front fascia. They are characterized by vertical slats to precisely direct the airflow to enhance cooling of fluids of this mid-engined super car. A discretely carbon fibre front lip spoiler adds subtle detail to the front – end styling.
The trademark R8 – Carbon Sigma ‘sideblades’ have been split in to a two – piece design, reducing visual bulk they lent to the earlier model. The door release has been hidden underneath the door crease. The rear follows the similar styling cues as the front – lean, mean and angular with the new twin trapezoidal exhaust outlets with black finishers. The highlight however remains the fixed Carbon fibre rear wing spoiler, making the performance intentions clear. This spoiler can add upto 100kgs of downforce at high speeds, working in conjunction with the big diffuser and splitter.
Audi`s “Monoposto” cockpit design is selfishly driver focused. Be it the three spoke flat bottom sport steering wheel, to its new 12.3 inch TFT display with outstanding resolution and clarity. Audi virtual cockpit puts the driver at the helm of business with an ingenious display which sits within driver`s direct vision. The steering mounted satellite buttons are like desktop shortcut icons and give quick access to prominent functions engine Starting/Stop, Sport exhaust etc. Audi`s MMI navigation plus system and Audi Connect enables Google earth with 3D satellite imagery. Virtual cockpit can be configured to display host of information in various combinations, and can also be broadly toggled between Infotainment, Classic and Sport modes.
Audi has gone the prancing horse way, giving the R8 four – wheel mounted satellite buttons for engine Start/Stop, Audi drive select, Performance mode selector and Sport exhaust apart from the standard telephony controls. This has freed up lots of space on the dashboard, which is only occupied by air con vents now. Bits and pieces around the cabin like the instrument cluster housing, upper door panels, center console air con vent surrounds, etc., are tastefully wrapped with Carbon Sigma inlays. The quilted Black Alcantara headliner completes the upper half of the cabin.
Audi has equipped R8 with Recaro racing bucket seats, which obviously come with head restraints, and true to their elements, the seats do a brilliant job of keeping the driver and occupants strapped down no matter how many lateral Gs one is pulling. Being a racing bucket, the seat back is not adjustable for recline. Audi has provided manual fore-aft adjustment, and powered height adjustment feature. Steering is manually adjustable for rake and reach, so, hitting the sweet seating spot takes less than 30 seconds.
The central console houses Audi`s MMI touch with handwriting recognition jog dial, and takes the prominence behind the chunky drive selector lever with P mode button. The auto dimming rear view mirror also comes with a digital compass, which constantly displays the direction you’re heading towards. There’s the “Sport exhaust” button, which enhances the 40 valve V10 choir behind the driver. The R8 is also equipped with a splendid 550w Bang & Olufsen 13 speaker sound system to entertain you silly if you ever (!) feel like listening to something other than the euphony of the V10.
Engine, gearbox, suspension – the technical bits
To start the most juicy bits on the car, the heart of the car, a mighty 5.2 litre 40 valve V10 has been tweaked and tuned to deliver maximum performance while keeping a reality check on fuel efficiency. Hats off to Audi for keeping this gem of a motor naturally aspirated (still!) and abstaining from any form of forced induction or strapping on complex hybrid technologies. This V10 Plus belts out a stupendous 610 hp @ stratospheric 8250 rpm and 40 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm, thus making it the most powerful production engine from Audi.
The valvetrain is nothing short of an army with 40 valve DOHC with continuous intake and exhaust camshaft adjustment and Audi`s idiosyncratic FSI dual injection. R8 is closely related to its racing doppleganger – the R8 LMS and utilizes a dry sump design with an Aluminium alloy incorporating silicon crystals. The motor runs at 12.7:1 compression ratio and the internals have been tweaked to best perform under varying load conditions. For instance, fuel saving port induction is used at low power demand situations and intuitively switches to direct injection as soon as it`s called upon. Audi has also equipped R8 with its Cylinder on Demand technology, which effectively shuts down a bank of 5 cylinders when light throttle applications are detected, thereby maximizing fuel efficiency.
All engine enhancements are effectively used to fire up the tyres via Audi`s legendary Quattro drive train and now comes with a water cooled multi-plate clutch instead of the older viscous central coupling. Drive modes have been finely tuned along with S Tronic 7 speed DCT for the most intuitive driving experience. The multi-material Audi Space Frame body shell is not only lighter than its predecessor, but also 40% stiffer allowing more freedom for suspension tuning. Which brings us to the R8’s clever electronically adjustable magnetorheological dampers, which contain magnetic particle laden oil with the capability of altering viscosity (read damping) in mere milliseconds. Braking hardware is courtesy massive 380mm Carbon ceramic discs clamped upon by 6 pot calipers at the front and 356 mm discs by 4 pot calipers at the rear.
If all the technological wizardry is mind boggling, do not worry – the boffins at Audi have simplified it to a mere few buttons. Yes, all one must do is choose Dynamic mode from the Drive select button on the steering wheel. Other options are Comfort, Individual and Auto. The Dynamic aka the hooligan mode can be further sharpened by choosing between Wet, Dry and Snow driving surfaces, each having various levels of reduced traction and stability control interventions.
2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus weighs around 1500 kgs and rides on 295/35 19 inchers at the back and 245/35 at the front. 600HP+, all-wheel drive, ultra-sophisticated electronics means the R8’s offer ludicrous levels of performance. Keep it in Dynamic selection with Dry road performance setting, traction control switched off, and give it a winding piece of tarmac – The new R8 will deliver bucket loads of mind bending amounts of lateral forces, more than one can handle. The Quattro inherently combats positive turn-ins which with the torque vectoring tries hard to be a saviour. Lifting off throttle mid corner is the easiest way to take care of understeer, and turns the R8 to a slithering monster.
The new Audi R8’s suspension and wide rubber gives it mental levels of grip and makes it easy to drive fast. Dynamic mode rewards one with blipped down shifts, infact, S-tronic is so intuitive in swapping cogs, it would have down shifted already when you are about to feel the urge to do so. The vacuum operated exhaust bypass valve can be selected via the steering mounted “sport exhaust” button. Unless you are driving past a funeral procession, it`s almost criminal to keep the glorious sounding V10 in standard exhaust mode.
Depress the chequered flag satellite button, floor the throttle (launch control holds the revs at 4500rpm) and dump the brake pedal – this sequence of operation leads to one of the most brutal launches one can experience as the engine spins to the redline in a jiffy, 0-100 comes up in 3.2 seconds. The exhaust wails to the 8500rpm redline in no time, and the exhaust burbles and pops under partial throttle lift offs that are seriously addictive to any petrol head.
The electro mechanical steering feels as direct as a German can be, while carbon ceramic anchors do a splendid job of shredding speed even before your neck muscles are ready to recover from acceleration G forces. S-tronic transmission can also be controlled via steering mounted controls and allows the driver to hold on to the selected gear even if the revs hit the limiter- no, it won`t upshift automatically like other auto-`boxes.
Once you have had your dose of performance mayhem, slot the car into Comfort mode and switch off Sport exhaust function – the R8 V10 Plus instantly transforms into a docile coupe, literally its alter ego. It becomes inexplicably easy to drive around bordering doubtful of its supercar credentials. Even ground clearance surprised us by staying clear of all speed breakers we encountered. Audi`s cylinder on demand works tirelessly. Fuel consumption hovered around 7kmpl throughout the test, which is praiseworthy. The engineers have made all of its performance so accessible and usable that it is laughably easy to drive the R8 V10 fast and hard, even for a driver with not so great driving skills, if they desire so.
The 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus builds on the strengths of its predecessor, and breaks new ground in terms of practicality and ease of use. The most impractical aspect remains attention it draws especially in the Samoa Orange shade that you see in the pictures. This saffron shade screams louder than a political gathering at Mumbai`s Shivaji park. The same impracticality makes one feel like Tony Stark, if for a day – No one`s complaining.
Image Credit – Mihir Shere and Vaibhav Gokhale