You’ll love the pace and the agility. Not so the price and gearbox

Our Verdict

Audi R8 V10

A V10 in an Audi R8 shows too much of a good thing can be wonderful

What is it?

Just think about this for a second. This, the Audi R8 GT, is a £142,585 Audi.

The GT is a limited-edition variant of the V10 Audi R8 coupe. Power is up to 552bhp at 8000rpm from 518 at 8000rpm, all via electronic wizardry. Torque is up only by 9lb ft to 398lb ft, at the same 6500, so any extra oomph will be found only at the top end.

And it costs £142,585. Or, in the modestly optioned form of the car you see in these pictures, £159,315.

It’s possible to add another £6640 on a half roll-cage and four-point harnesses. More still on a proper cage and heftier harnesses. At least carbon-ceramic brakes are standard.

Only 333 are to be built, 33 are coming to the UK, and despite the price all are sold.

What’s it like?

There’s a lovely handling characteristic to the standard Audi R8 that is a pleasure to exploit every time you remember it’s there and have the opportunity to use it.

It happens when the driver trails the brakes on corner approach and then inputs through the steering what is known in the industry – in strictly professional engineering terms, you understand – as “an almighty bung”.

The R8 is agile and rear-biased in its weight and its power delivery. Its steering is accurate and direct and it has a limited-slip rear differential.

As a result, there is little the R8 likes more than being chucked into a corner. It bites at the front, becomes loose at the rear, and all the inherent understeer you might expect of a 4wd car forgets to appear.

In that respect the R8 is like a Mitsubishi Evo, only with more finesse, a pleasing sound, an acceptable ride and even more options on corner exit. It is so approachable and friendly, so adjustable and reliable and downright fun that somehow a hardcore variant – a GT3 RS or Makinnen edition, if you like – might not seem appropriate. It could upset the friendly demeanour.

But, in the form of the R8 GT – I mentioned it’s £142,585, didn’t I? – here it is.

The only gearbox available for the GT is the R-Tronic automated manual. Audi says this is because it wanted to finesse only one gearbox for the 333 cars and the R Tronic, globally, is more popular. I say that’s a shame.

It’s a shame, too, that we’re still unable to try this car on the road in the UK because, despite it wearing a number plate, it was not yet registered.

However, thanks to the slightly crumbled durability of wartime concrete to each side of the amusing new track at Blyton Park near Gainsborough, I can tell you that the R8 GT does not ride as cleverly as its standard stablemate. Presumably that will come as a surprise to precisely none of you.

For the record, the GT wears passive springs and dampers that lower the body by 10mm over the standard car. Camber rates are upped, and the steering is even quicker, all to boost agility. Not that the R8 had a problem with that before.

What results, though, is a delightful car to drive. The GT goes marginally better, still sounds excellent, and now stops without fatigue. It regains the agility that the V10 lost from the V8 R8, and adds more. Yet the inherent adjustability and playfulness of regular R8s remains, too. It’s rewarding to drive smoothly on a circuit, but it’s a bigger laugh to be a bit brutal with the inputs and really feel and exploit the mid-engined neutrality. Few supercars let you play so many games with the chassis.

Should I buy one?

Well, you can’t. But will you like it if you have? I would think so.

Audi hasn’t turned the R8 into a Porsche Renn Sport clone but it has turned up the agility and amusement by a few worthwhile per cent all round. Whereas a Porsche 911 GT3 RS is an utterly different animal to a 911 Carrera 2, the R8 GT is like an R8 V10+.

Those expecting more might be disappointed. Those who come without preconceptions, and holding a track-day rather than race-day outlook, will love it.

Audi R8 5.2 V10 GT

Price: £142,585; Top speed: 199mph; 0-62mph: 3.6sec; Economy: 20.3mpg; CO2: 327g/km; Kerb weight: 1525kg; Engine: V10, 5204cc, petrol; Power: 552bhp at 8000rpm; Torque: 398lb ft at 6500rpm; Gearbox: 6spd robotised manual

Join the debate

Comments
11

28 July 2011

Ultimate R8 ?....I think so, there can't be much else they can do to it without ruining it,it's not exactly a looker is it?

Peter Cavellini.

28 July 2011

£142K for an Audi R8? that is one hell of lot of cash but if it sells that the price is not a problem.

29 July 2011

This isn't the best piece of journalistic writing we have seen from Mr. Prior.

I am a frustrated would-be editor.

Nice car.

29 July 2011

but you would though, if you had the money, wouldn't you?

29 July 2011

Course not!, Porsche GTR3 would be first choice and if i can't get one of those then it would a Nissan GTR, the Audi?... it leaves me cold.

Peter Cavellini.

29 July 2011

I still think that a manual R8 V8 is the best choice...maybe a 2nd hand fresh one at £60k...

29 July 2011

Still to much, there are cars for a lot less with four proper seats a decent boot can do 30-35mpg and can used every day and give you the thrills of driving close to the cars max,say you do buy one you'll need deep pockets for the everyday things like fuel, road tax, tyres servicing etc, no it's just not a goer in my book,give me a 3 year old 911 or at the least a 2 year old M3.

Peter Cavellini.

29 July 2011

[quote Peter Cavellini]Still to much, there are cars for a lot less with four proper seats a decent boot can do 30-35mpg and can used every day and give you the thrills of driving close to the cars max,[/quote]

Quite right. I believe that one can buy a new Polo for £9,495 at the moment.

I'll take the R8 though, thanks..

2 August 2011

[quote Peter Cavellini]Still to much, there are cars for a lot less with four proper seats a decent boot can do 30-35mpg and can used every day and give you the thrills of driving close to the cars max,say you do buy one you'll need deep pockets for the everyday things like fuel, road tax, tyres servicing etc, no it's just not a goer in my book,give me a 3 year old 911 or at the least a 2 year old M3.[/quote]

Yes, in fact I haven't bought one yet..servicing costs worry me a little. I recently owned a 2006 911 but I switched to more "risky" (in terms of costs) 2007 Aston V8. I am still a 911 fan but I bought it with the wrong specs because of the appealing price. It was a 4S cabrio. I bought the Aston V8 again because the price was good and the car beautiful but I don't like the sportshift transmission...I am already trying to sell it...

I likes the looks of R8 and the one I liked the one I drove but what I am really looking for is a 997.1 GT3

2 August 2011

Clever marketing - Audi has clearly learnt from Porsche how to make a new variant by adding a little bit more here and there to the engineering and a whole lot more to the price, and then giving motoring journalists a chance to test it and write about it for free publicity.

So can we now expect R8 articles to be as frequent as 911 stories have been in Autocar over the years?

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