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