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

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.

Back to top

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

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
TegTypeR 8 August 2011

Re: Audi R8 5.2 V10 GT

curious_insider wrote:

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

No, sorry I wouldn't.

No matter how good a four wheel drive system is supposed to be, I would never choose one on this sort of car. It lacks purity. Then there's the gearbox.

The R8 is a great car for people who want to think they can drive and not for those who can.

Big S 2 August 2011

Re: Audi R8 5.2 V10 GT

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?

matsoc 2 August 2011

Re: Audi R8 5.2 V10 GT

Peter Cavellini wrote:
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.

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