In a classic top-down approach, Â Audi R8 2016 arrives almost a decade after the original appeared in 2007 in V10-only form, priced from just under $355K for the â€˜entry-levelâ€™ model and almost $390K for the top-shelf V10 â€˜plusâ€™.
Audi R8 2016 review and price
Although thatâ€™s about $10K and $20K less than the models they replace, for now thereâ€™s no replacement for the old sub-$280K R8 4.2 FSI V8, pitting the new R8s firmly against Porscheâ€™s scything 911 Turbo. In fact, with the â€˜baseâ€™ 911 Turbo costing just under $385K, the R8 V10 plus is, in fact, about $5000 more, so it has plenty to live up to.
Happily for Audi â€“ and anyone with $400K to splurge on a German supercar â€“ it delivers in spades.
Within the same-same exterior design, which nonetheless still packs as much road presence as a Ferrari and probably more than a 911, thereâ€™s an all-new mid-engined platform that combines an aluminium space-frame chassis and a central carbon-fibre monocoque.
The alloy accounts for 79 per cent and the carbon around 13 per cent. Together, the structure weighs just 200kg â€“ 10kg less than before â€“ yet itâ€™s claimed to be 40 per cent stronger. Weight distribution is 42/58 per cent front/rear and sending the power to the road is Audiâ€™s latest quattro all-wheel drive system which can deliver up to 100 per cent of torque to either axle.
Thereâ€™s also a passive rear limited-slip diff, which delivers up to 45 per cent locking action under acceleration and up to 25 per cent under deceleration.
Total vehicle weight stays under 1500kg dry, or 1670kg for the base V10 and 1630kg for the V10 plus according to the EU standard (including a 75kg driver and 90 per cent fuel load).
The standard Â Audi R8 2016 5.2 FSI V10 quattro Coupe is powered by a Lamborghini-derived 5.2-litre V10 â€“ Audiâ€™s last remaining naturally aspirated engine. It delivers 397kW at 8250rpm and 540Nm at 6500rpm (up 11kW and 10Nm).
Aided by direct and indirect fuel-injection and cylinder-shutdown technology for the first time, it averages fuel consumption of 11.4L/100km and can accelerate the base R8 to 100km/h in a claimed 3.5sec on its way to a 320km/h top speed.
The hotter Â Audi R8 Â plus delivers 449kW and 560Nm at the same revs (up 45kW and 30Nm), consumes 12.3L/100km and hits 100km/h in 3.2sec and a 330km/h top speed.
Although we couldnâ€™t tell the difference in pace between the two on the road, theyâ€™re seriously quick acceleration numbers and both cars feel at least as quick as their claims. In the real world, Audiâ€™s quickest and fastest ever production car wonâ€™t play second-fiddle to its rivals.
Indeed, while it lacks the epic mid-range surge of the 911 Turboâ€™s twin-turbo six, the glorious Audi V10 makes up for it with the type of response that only an atmo engine can deliver. Thereâ€™s useable torque right from idle and it shrieks violently to a monumental 8700rpm cutout. And everywhere in between acceleration is so instant itâ€™s like the accelerator pedal is bolted to the throttle body.
The V10 is matched with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic (thereâ€™s no manual), that shifts up and down so quickly and smoothly changes are almost imperceptible. The engine spins so quickly that in manual mode youâ€™ve got to be handy with the paddles or shift lever to keep up.
It was hard to test the new chassis to anywhere near its limits during our relatively brief public-road drive on the Snowy Mountains Highway around Adaminaby, but even away from a racetrack improvements are apparent.
For our money, the old R8 delivered just the right doses of grip, balance and feedback to make it the unsung hero in its class, yet the new one is better by every measure. The steering is razor-sharp, beautifully weighted, full of feel and completely free of vices, and the level of power-down traction and mid-corner grip is more than enough for any public road.
Interestingly, all the R8s we drove (including the plus) were â€˜de-speccedâ€™ with 19-inch tyres and wheels (20 are a no-cost option on the plus). Ride quality on the 19s was firm but compliant on the roughest surfaces we encountered. Those who drove the only car with 20s said there was barely any difference.
Practicality (in sports car terms) also continues, with plenty of room behind the seats (where the 911 offers a couple of token pews) and just enough for a big overnight bag under the bonnet, like the 911. Just donâ€™t store any chocolate up there â€” it gets warm!
All models are also better equipped than before, despite the price cuts. Both versions come with the configurable Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument display, 12.3-inch MMI infotainment screen, 550-Watt/13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio with Bluetooth and digital radio, nappa leather upholstery, LED headlights and Audi Sport exhaust.
In addition, the plus model swaps the base carâ€™s Magnetic Ride adaptive suspension for Sport suspension with firmer rebound damping and revised anti-roll bars (Magnetic Ride damping is a $4100 option). Its big steel brake discs gripped by eight-piston fixed calipers up front are also exchanged for an even bigger carbon-ceramic brake disc package with six/four-piston front/rear calipers.
Apart from bigger 20-inch wheels, the plus also brings a switchable exhaust mode and a host of carbon-fibre additions like huge front and rear spoilers (the latter is fixed, generating up to 100kg of downforce), side blades and interior highlights.
But there are still some obscenely priced options. Consider the base modelâ€™s tick-a-box gloss-carbon side blades ($5000) and front spoiler and rear diffuser ($3200), matt-carbon interior inlays ($1000), black Alcantara headlining ($3200) and 15kg-lighter ceramic brakes ($20,300) â€” all of which is standard in the top-shelf R8 V10 plus.
Brilliant fixed sport bucket seats with pneumatic lumbar support are a no-cost extra for the plus, but LED headlights with Audi laser light and dynamic turn indicators cost a tidy $7700 extra.
There are other options too, like fine Nappa leather trim with diamond pattern stitching ($1150), dynamic steering ($3200), gloss-carbon wing mirrors ($3200) and crystal effect paint ($3550). Opt for extended dashboard inlays in matt carbon and youâ€™ll pay $4100; a gloss carbon engine compartment is $7750. Thereâ€™s even an extended Nappa leather upholstery and trim package with coloured contrasting diamond pattern stitching priced at $9750.
Pricey add-ons are not unusual in this segment though, and with its cracking mid-mounted V10 on proud display behind you, the new R8 â€“ which is slightly shorter than before at just 4426mm long, 40mm wider at an expansive 1940mm and just 1240mm high â€” delivers a sense of occasion to rival its far pricier Latin competitors.
Once cheaper versions eventuate, Audi expects the new R8 to be more popular than its predecessor, which found a little over 400 Aussie customers in its nine years on sale.
With almost as many 911s sold here every year, that makes Audi R8 2016Â ownership a far more exclusive club. And when it comes to supercars, that â€” along with design, practicality and street cred â€” is just as important as performance numbers.
2016 Audi R8 V10 pricing and specifications:
Price: $354,900 plus ORCs (plus: $389,900 plus ORCs)
Engine: 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V10
Output: 397kW/540Nm (plus: 449kW/560Nm)
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Kerb weight: 1670kg (plus: 1630kg)
Safety rating: TBC
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