Driven: Audi R8 V10 S Tronic


“Here are the keys, and off you go.” So runs the normal introduction to a new press car. Usually, it’s accompanied by a frisson of excitement, but this time, there was more than a touch of apprehension. You see, I was at St Pancras International, and the keys were to Audi’s new £115,575 R8 V10 S Tronic. My task was to drive it out of central London in rush-hour traffic. Preferrably without glancing an errant taxi or nudging up against a lane-hogging bus. And, just to complicate matters, snow was forecast. Good.

R8 is as docile as ever, when you want it to be
R8 is as docile as ever, when you want it to be
I needn’t have worried. Through the traffic, the V10 is utterly content to dawdle, and then out through the Millennium Falcon snowstorm on an ever-whitening motorway, the easy-going throttle and four-wheel drive meant I was no less relaxed than the chap in the rep-spec A4 next to me.

Of course, this was par for the course. The R8 has gained a reputation as one of the most usable supercars around, and it’s for that reason that it’s been such a hit. Over 20,000 have been sold worldwide since it was launched. But even a car as successful as this can’t get away without a mid-life spruce up, so Audi’s thrown a few shiny bits at the R8 to keep it fresh. And while we’ve driven the top-of-the-range V10 Plus model out on a track, the real test of a facelifted R8 was always going to be on the road.

S-Tronic box is the biggest change
S-Tronic box is the biggest change
It isn’t just a cosmetic makeover, this. The biggest change is under the skin, where the new dual-clutch S Tronic gearbox replaces the R Tronic robotised manual. And this is one of those cars where a dual-clutch system works. The new gearbox fits with the R8’s character perfectly, offering relaxed and easy-to-handle cruising ability when you need it. Hit the kickdown switch, though, and all hell breaks loose.

The ’box thunks down two gears so quickly that, even with the traction control activated, the back end squirms (like the old car, there’s a 15:85 F:R torque split as standard, extending to 30:70 when the going gets slithery). Once grip returns, you’re catapulted up the road accompanied by a V10 yowl that never stops, thanks to the rapidity and savagery with which the gearbox rams home the next ratios. Flick a paddle to enter manual mode and there’s more of the same, only this time you’re controlling things – quite literally. In sport mode, the car really won’t change up until you tell it to, which is gratifying, and on the downshifts there’s a truly delectable blip of the throttle. It’s one of the most convincing applications of a dual-clutch box that we’ve seen, and streets ahead of the old R Tronic. If you can stretch to the £2,900 it adds to the base price, it’s worth it. So equipped, the V10 will now hit 62 in 3.6 seconds, and top out at 195mph; in manual form, those figures are 3.9 seconds and 197mph respectively.

V10 sits in the middle of the R8 range
V10 sits in the middle of the R8 range
Of course, if you're looking for more, there's always the new V10 Plus. This comes with an extra 25hp, for which you'll have to pay £124,675. 0-62mph drops to 3.8 seconds and top speed goes up to 198mph; add the S Tronic box for the same £2,900 and you'll get a 0-62mph of 3.5 seconds and a 197mph top speed. And if you can't quite stretch to either V10 model, never fear; the V8 is still available. It, too, gets the new gearbox as an option - again costing £2,900 over the standard car's on-the-road price of £91,575. You'll do without a few toys and you'll swap a V10 wail for a V8 warble, but you'll still get a pretty rapid 0-62 time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 187mph (4.6 seconds and 188mph with the manual gearbox).

So, what else is new? Well, not much of substance, it must be said. The most obvious differences are in the headlights, which are now LED units front and rear. The rears, meanwhile, now feature directional indicators, which ‘flow’ out toward the side of the car as they flash. Sounds gimmicky; is. But also rather cool. There have also been a handful of detail cosmetic changes, including new exterior colours (the matt finish is striking), some fiddling with the grille vanes, and optional diamond-quilted leather inside.

OK, so a Porsche is more pointy, a Ferrari more finessed and a Lambo a touch more lunatic, but the R8 is very nearly as good as all of those cars at all of those things, while also being eye-poppingly beautiful, addictively dramatic and just as usable as it always has been. And now it’s available with the S Tronic ’box, it’s better than ever.


AUDI R8 V10 S-TRONIC
Engine:
5,204cc V10 direct injection
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power (hp): 525@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 391@6,500
0-62mph: 3.6sec
Top speed: 195mph
Weight: 1,645kg
MPG: 21.6 (combined)
CO2: 305g/km
Price: £115,575 OTR (manual £112,675)







Photography: Prime Exposures

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (76) Join the discussion on the forum

  • J4CKO 20 Feb 2013

    I drove an R8 on a Supercar Experience last Friday and loved it, was the V8 which isnt epically fast, it needs winding up, in fact it is a bit flat low down, enought I suspect to get some diesel repmobile owners thinking they have a chance, once singing its pretty quick, lovely engine and a lovely cabin, the handing is a lot more exploitable and playful than anticipated, I got it sideways a couple of times, far from inert and nannied as I had kind of expected.

    The Audi made the Ferrari 360 I also drove feel a bit of a nervous, rattly old thing, driven a couple now and though the wail is intoxicating it understeers a bit but you are under no illusion it is going to spit you off if you take liberties, you can feel the engine moving around behind you, I dont think it is a car I would be happy with trying to exploit on the road, think it is a car for more talented drivers than I.

    The R8 is a lovely package, I wanted to dislike it but really can see the point.

  • Maldini35 20 Feb 2013

    James1972 said:
    va1o said:
    Its not that simple though, there are many things the A4 does better than mainstream rivals. All models tend to have better residuals, emissions and fuel efficiency plus you also have the options of a 'big' 6-cylinder diesel, Quattro and luxury car equipment (at a price).
    Thinking of the 2.0 ones more than anything -I agree that the perceived value of the Audi badge does a great job at keeping the residuals etc. up but also the costs of buying into it. My point was really that the base car under the gloss often dosn't drive as well for the price as the competition. Not bad cars at all but as dynamic and sporty as the image would suggest? no
    Agreed, but the point made was that cars are often bought for reasons other than driving dynamics. If the halo models create a sporty image which makes non enthusiasts driving standard models feel happier inside then where's the harm?

    But to return to your original slightly bizarre comment, I certainly don't drive by Mondeo drivers and think "wow you're definitely not a cock - you're clearly a savvy man for buying a car of equivalent price to the an Audi (all be it with a slightly naff interior and lower residuals in the case of the Mondeo or Superb) but better driving dynamics"
    Life's too short.




    Edited by Maldini35 on Wednesday 20th February 21:06

  • James1972 20 Feb 2013

    va1o said:
    Its not that simple though, there are many things the A4 does better than mainstream rivals. All models tend to have better residuals, emissions and fuel efficiency plus you also have the options of a 'big' 6-cylinder diesel, Quattro and luxury car equipment (at a price).
    Thinking of the 2.0 ones more than anything -I agree that the perceived value of the Audi badge does a great job at keeping the residuals etc. up but also the costs of buying into it. My point was really that the base car under the gloss often dosn't drive as well for the price as the competition. Not bad cars at all but as dynamic and sporty as the image would suggest? no

  • va1o 19 Feb 2013

    James1972 said:
    When I see an A4 TDI S Line on 19"s I think Tcensoredr if you liked driving you would have bought the mondeo / 3 series or the superb to have a better riding machine with more equipment for the same price.
    Its not that simple though, there are many things the A4 does better than mainstream rivals. All models tend to have better residuals, emissions and fuel efficiency plus you also have the options of a 'big' 6-cylinder diesel, Quattro and luxury car equipment (at a price).

  • James1972 19 Feb 2013

    Great historic fan of Audi's but the current image does nothing for me. But when I see an R8 I double take and think wow now theres a good looking capable fast motor - good choice sir / madam - WANT ! -probably more than the 911.

    When I see an A4 TDI S Line on 19"s I think Tcensoredr if you liked driving you would have bought the mondeo / 3 series or the superb to have a better riding machine with more equipment for the same price.








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