The new R8 is, Audi claims, the closest thing to a racing car that it has ever attempted to make for the road.

The original car’s manual gearbox and V8 have been consigned to history – something we regret in both cases – and replaced by an engine range consisting of 533bhp and 602bhp 5.2-litre V10 options and a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic ’box. For those seeking to make that evocative V10 more vocal, there is the option to have the 533bhp in Spyder form.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
New-generation Audi Space Frame construction is made from aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced polymer

The changes to the mixed-metal V10 are legion, among them a hike in compression ratio, a new fuel injection system with both direct and indirect delivery, and the adoption of cylinder shutdown.

With an under-square design, offset cylinder banks and alternating firing intervals for opposing cylinders of 54deg and 90deg, the engine remains unconventional for its type. But that type remains one of atmospheric aspiration, with peak power developed north of 8000rpm, peak revs close to 9000rpm and what Audi hails as a 20 percent improvement in throttle response. 

The car’s Audi Space Frame underbody, shared with the Huracán, is now five percent lighter than it used to be and 40 percent more rigid, gains delivered by mixing aluminium castings, extrusions and sheets with resin-transfer-moulded, carbonfibre-reinforced polymer parts. All external body panels are aluminium.

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Audi’s kerb weight claim for the higher-output V10 Plus is 1555kg, but MIRA’s weighbridge put our test car – fitted with more than £10,000 of optional kit, admittedly – at 1730kg, a figure that would suggest some discipline may be required during the ordering process if you want your R8 to really benefit from Audi’s engineering effort.

The R8’s running gear consists of axle tracks that are wider up front than at the rear, aluminium double wishbones all round and – in the case of the V10 Plus – slightly stiffer springs and passive dampers than the outgoing car had, matched to forged 19in alloy wheels.

The standard steering set-up moves from electro-hydraulic to electro-mechanical power assistance. On the options list are both adaptive magnetorheological dampers and active-ratio dynamic steering – both of which our test car had fitted.

Finally, Audi’s trademark quattro drivetrain for the R8 is now made up of a mechanical limited-slip differential for the rear axle (locking up to 45 percent under power and 25 percent on the overrun), and a multi-plate clutch packaged inside the front differential that’s capable of apportioning more power to the front wheels than the previous viscous coupling could and reacting more quickly. 

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