Remember when Audi's R8 was THE car? It's been shaded a bit over the last couple of years by a rush of high-profile, high-horsepower megacars, but it's still a fine machine that provides a brilliantly focused combination of performance and real-world usability.
A typically low-key 'facelift' from Audi
Nevertheless, it's a fast-moving market, so it's good to hear that Audi is giving the R8 some more ammunition to help it keep pace.
There's new design detailing (honest - Ed.) and all-LED lighting across the board, equipment upgrades for most models and a new, more powerful version of the V10 Coupé - the 550hp, 398lb ft V10 Plus.
The most significant range improvement is a new S tronic twin-clutch transmission delivering 'ultra rapid' shifts. This new seven-speed 'box, which also has a launch control function, replaces the R tronic automated manual option. It knocks 0.3 seconds off the 0-62 time for all three R8s (V8, V10 Coupe and V10 Spyder). The six-speed manual remains available on all UK versions.
The new V10 Plus, probably not pictured in Paris
The new V10 Plus is 25hp up on the standard V10. It's good for 0-62 in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 197mph in S tronic form. Braking is by ceramic discs. The other R8s in the range get new (and lighter) wave-design ventilated steel discs. UK V8s have 19-inch five-arm double-spoke wheels with 235/35 tyres at the front and 295/30 tyres at the rear. 'Standard' V10 models will have 19-inch ten-spoke 'Y' design wheel, while the R8 V10 Plus gets an exclusive 19-inch five-arm double-spoke wheel. High gloss or titanium look options are on offer, with an exclusive black gloss finish for the V10 Plus.
External changes include a new single-frame grille and bumper, which in the new V10 Plus coupe incorporates a CFRP front splitter. CFRP also appears in the V10 plus's outside mirror housings, diffuser, lateral air inlet 'side blades', and engine trims - the latter being LED-illuminated as standard in the V10 Plus.
Nifty 'sweeping' LED indicators across the range
All-LED headlights become standard on all R8s, complemented by strip-shaped daytime running lights up front and LED lights at the rear with nifty 'sweep' movement indicators. The cabin gets a comprehensive refresh too, with higher standard equipment levels, new R8 badges, gearshift paddles and instrument cluster, and greater use of Nappa leather.
First deliveries of the new R8s are expected in early 2013, at prices ranging from £91,575 to £127,575.