The basic R8 may be less potent than the Plus, but there’s still an awful lot to love about this car. Chief among those things is the engine. With the automotive world moving increasingly towards downsized turbocharged engines, this car’s V10 feels increasingly special.
Power may have been turned down, but the noise certainly hasn’t. After starting with the kind of overdramatic yelp that is bound to upset your neighbours, it settles down to a surprisingly quiet cruise even with the optional sports exhaust.
Flatten your foot to the floor and things change dramatically, especially with the optional sports pipes in noisy mode. As with the best naturally aspirated engines, the motor builds to a gloriously vocal crescendo that you’ll want to revisit time and time again. The pops and crackles on the overrun might be engineered in, but they do make it even more exciting.
In terms of outright pace, it’s very unlikely you’d be disappointed by the normal R8. Our GPS timing gear clocked it at 3.5sec from rest to 60mph on a streaming wet surface which, let's face it, is more than enough for the majority of folk. However, when driven just after a go in the Plus, the difference in accelerative force is noticeable.
While the Plus may have a more aggressive suspension set-up, the lesser R8 is still a talented car in the twisties. Understandably, given the everyday supercar remit, there is some understeer when you enter a corner too quickly, but you have to be travelling very quickly indeed to ever feel this. Sheer mechanical grip dominates the experience.
Should you be brave (or foolish) enough to get to this level, a bit of trail braking will tuck the nose in, while a stab of throttle will get the back end into play. Should you find yourself sideways, the quattro system quickly sends torque to the front wheels helping to haul the car out of a slide without too much drama.
Naturally, given the focus on cornering ability, the suspension is firm, but not uncomfortably so. You do feel every bump, rut and undulation in the road, but the damping ensures that the car deals with the initial hit quickly and without getting unsettled. Even a long road trip doesn’t leave you feeling battered and bruised.
Our test car was fitted with the standard, non-variable ratio steering system. Although the weight increases as you flick through comfort, auto and dynamic modes, it always feels a bit light and aloof compared with the very finest electronic racks out there. It is, however, precise and an improvement on the variable-ratio dynamic set-up we've previously tried.
Although you miss out on the ceramic brakes of the Plus, the eight-piston front and four-piston rear callipers put up with plenty of abuse even on track. Not only were they powerful, they resisted fade well. Our only complaint is that they could prove tricky to modulate under normal road driving.
There are no prizes for guessing that the R8’s interior is a very pleasant place to be. It may be recognisably Audi, but there’s enough bespoke switchgear to make it feel that little bit more special than the rest of the range.
Despite this, visibility is surprisingly good for a low-slung, mid-engined car. Factor in a reasonable boot up front and plenty of storage in the cabin, and you could use the R8 every day.