RE: Driven: Audi R8 facelift

RE: Driven: Audi R8 facelift

Friday 26th October 2012

Driven: Audi R8 facelift

Farewell clunky R tronic, hello dual-clutch S tronic and the new and (much) improved R8 that results...



Hard to believe it is time for a new R8. Hard to believe it is six years since this bold machine made its Paris debut. But 'new' is pushing things a bit: this is a mild mid-life makeover, in truth.

Different you say? Well, yes, in parts
Different you say? Well, yes, in parts
Cosmetic tweaks are very minor and include the inevitable front LED signature and at the rear new 'dynamic' indicators that sweep directionally to indicate which way the car is turning. Sounds gimmicky, looks quite cool, and is only a short stretch from giving Knight Rider fans what they have always wanted!

New paint options, including trendy matt finishes and new wheel designs plus increased capacity for 'individualisation' also feature. Inside the changes are blink and you miss 'em although the diamond stitched quilted leather option does look rather good. But in general, the R8's inherent design 'rightness' remains pretty much untouched. Which is fine, because there was precious little to complain about.

So long R tronic
The big news is the arrival of the S tronic double-clutch gearbox. This option replaces the flawed robo-manual R tronic. Heavier but more compact, it promises ultra-fast shifts via the conventional gear selector or steering wheel paddles, improved acceleration (three tenths faster to 62mph than the R tronic equivalent) and reduced CO2 emissions by up to 22g/km.

Cabin as good as ever, with detail tweaks
Cabin as good as ever, with detail tweaks
There is also a new range-topper - the R8 V10 Plus. That's plus 25hp to 550hp and plus £12,000. It is 50kg lighter thanks to use of CFRP elements (sideblades, diffuser, front splitter), ceramic brakes and seriously buckety lightweight seats. It also features unique suspension settings described by the Audi engineers as 'very similar' to the hardcore GT. With the new gearbox, it will hit 62mph in 3.5 seconds. Top speed is 197mph.

Before heading out to find some suitable Italian roads, we had the opportunity to try the V10 Plus around Misano for half a dozen laps. Admittedly those laps were one at a time and required a pit lane potter in between but it was a good opportunity to let the V10 off the leash and try the gearbox in extremis on the racetrack.

Willing and able
The Plus certainly impressed on its first date. Grip at both ends is excellent and it retains that nice broad window of operation from mild understeer, through neutral, to mild oversteer where you can tailor its stance to suit your style, without feeling as if you are compromising its pace. Steering feel is good, body control on smooth tarmac outstanding.

Flappy paddles now the acceptable alternative
Flappy paddles now the acceptable alternative
Even when trying to unsettle the car - upshifting under hard acceleration on corner exit or downshifting, turning and braking all at the same time, the R8 refuses to bite. The gearshifts are so quick the car barely flickers from its line and of course it can channel up to 30 per cent of its thrust to the front wheels, although in 'normal' circumstances it's only half that.

In Manual/Sport it is a 'proper' manual. Drive into the limiter and it will stay there until you upshift, floor the throttle from tickover in 6th and it won't shift down. However, in M but without Sport selected, it will auto upshift and it will kick down if it thinks you require a more appropriate ratio. It didn't happen very often, but when it did, it irritated. If it is in Manual mode, then that is what it should mean, surely?

Huge ability but very exploitable with it
Huge ability but very exploitable with it
Out in public
Out on the public road the V10 Plus feels firm without being jittery. It's relatively happy to pootle and the auto mode on the S tronic is pretty good - although in sport it does want to kick down a lot.

Up the ante and you soon realise that there aren't many supercars you'd hurl along tight, twisty roads with such confidence. It's easy to place precisely, has bags of grip, faithful brakes and masses of torque. It's fun, too. Not exactly playful like a hot hatch, but compact and adjustable enough to forget the price tag and enjoy yourself on 'normal' back roads.

We also got to try the Spyder, and the V8 coupe. And the V8 is the sweetest of the lot. The engine is restrained and smooth, but hit Sport and it finds its voice in fine style. Magnetic ride is an option on the V8, and the ability to choose between damper settings is a real bonus as the car felt so much more compliant on the softer setting, without compromising its dynamic performance, and it coped infinitely better with the kind of yumps, bumps and potholes that are a feature of any rural road.

Matt paint finishes now available
Matt paint finishes now available
The steel brakes are more likeable too. On the track, the big ceramic stoppers on the Plus felt powerful, tireless and well-judged - and of course they reduce unsprung weight. But in terms of subtlety and feel - especially from cold - the new 'wave design' steel setup has the edge.

The old R tronic gearbox was, perhaps, the only real flaw remaining in the R8's impressively comprehensive talent arsenal and its replacement answers any remaining questions. The new range, with V8, V10, Spyder and now the more focused Plus variant priced from £91,575 up to £127,575 will stand comparison with anything. Which is timely, given that over in the Porsche corner the new dual-clutch equipped, four-wheel drive Carrera 4 has just made its debut too...


AUDI R8 V10 PLUS S TRONIC
Engine:
5,204cc V10
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 398lb ft@6500rpm
0-62mph: 3.5 sec
Top speed: 197mph
Weight: 1,595kg
MPG: 21.9mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 299g/km
Price: £127,575





Author
Discussion

E38Ross

Original Poster:

22,442 posts

153 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Bugger, I rated 5 by accident!

Lovely car, really wouldn't mind one of these!

Patrick Bateman

10,736 posts

115 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Love that blue.

kambites

56,517 posts

162 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
I think this is my favourite looking of the current crop of baby supercars - is it still available as a manual?

GroundEffect

11,332 posts

97 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
I really can't tell the differences visually. More a mechanical MCA than a 'facelift'.

tommy vercetti

10,946 posts

104 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Love that colour, but that cabin is sooooo grey
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British Beef

1,180 posts

106 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
This over a Carrera 4S any day of the week, unless you really want those tiny rear seats!!!

Looks like a proper supercar and feels like one too, the 911 is simply to conservative (which is how a lot of people evidently like their cars).

FWDRacer

3,546 posts

165 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
So the gearbox functionality in Sport full 'manual' that you allude to is what Jag has had since '10. Just sayin'.

anything fast

983 posts

105 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
I must be the only person who hates these cars. Every time I see one its driven by an arrogant tosser (no offence to the nice people who own one, I am sure there are a few) who thinks he is in a Veyron. I often see one that some nob has had wrapped in chrome vinyl...

Does nothing at all for me. Give me a new 911 or an Aston any day.

Dave Hedgehog

10,190 posts

145 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
I was lucky enough to be lent a BN V8 spyder after my car lunched its engine earlier this year, 5 days, empty lake district roads, 1000 miles and £400 in petrol, absolute perfection

i never did work out how they get the V8 to go from RS4 wail when hooning to full on OMG GT Race car noise when thrashing it

and now with duel clutch

I MUST HAVE, I WILL HAVE ONE!!

cloud9

FamilyDub

3,587 posts

106 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
That R8 is a good looking beast!

I'd still prefer a V10 Gallardo in a silly colour over the V10 R8, though. boxedin

Gorbyrev

1,030 posts

95 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Perhaps the best all round car I have ever had the pleasure to drive. 2nd handers are now around the £40K. That is a lot of car for the cash. Dual clutch is fine but the manual is a peach and the old V10 R8 is a last bastion for the manual supercar (unless one has the wad for an M600!).

billzeebub

3,806 posts

140 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
always loved the way the R8 looks, well apart from the contrasting sideblades. It looks so much better all in the same hue

Dave Hedgehog

10,190 posts

145 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
110k for a V8 spyder in my spec smile

Ex Boy Racer

1,056 posts

133 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Difficult to see the changes - which is a good thing for my car's future value.

Mine's a V10 spyder and I really can't fault it. As fast as anyone could really want, with a back end that will move around through the bends and make you feel like Senna with all the electronic safeguards still on.

Also sounds like a banshee.

Carl_Docklands

5,140 posts

203 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Ex Boy Racer said:
Difficult to see the changes - which is a good thing for my car's future value.
Someone hand this man a pint of Denial smile

Trade-in on a 2 year old R8 V10 Spyder is around £75k from a specced up price of around £115k-£120k

Edited by Carl_Docklands on Friday 26th October 13:48

PascalBuyens

2,868 posts

223 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
15 LEDs in the lights instead of 14 these days?

Can't see much of a difference to be honest... just another Audi.

405dogvan

5,326 posts

206 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Next step - rear light spell out "Deeper in finance than you".

Video of fancy indicators required anyway tho.

Ex Boy Racer

1,056 posts

133 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Carl_Docklands said:
Ex Boy Racer said:
Difficult to see the changes - which is a good thing for my car's future value.
Someone hand this man a pint of Denial smile

Trade-in on a 2 year old R8 V10 Spyder is around £75k from a specced up price of around £115k-£120k

Edited by Carl_Docklands on Friday 26th October 13:48
I'll take a pint of anything if you're buying.

But the figures are R* bought ex-demo with 800 miles £95k. Sell 2 years later for £75k - I'll take that!

Gizmoish

18,150 posts

150 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
Oh god, not that "sweetest" thing again.

To be dragged up in ten year's time by people trying to justify why they bought the 1.6 and not the 1.9... wink

M666 EVO

1,076 posts

103 months

Friday 26th October 2012
quotequote all
anything fast said:
I must be the only person who hates these cars. Every time I see one its driven by an arrogant tosser (no offence to the nice people who own one, I am sure there are a few) who thinks he is in a Veyron. I often see one that some nob has had wrapped in chrome vinyl...

Does nothing at all for me. Give me a new 911 or an Aston any day.
This...