What is it?
The latest facelifted version of the Audi R8, just arrived in the UK. Supercar, super-sports car, fast Audi godfather, 4WD mid-engined misfit – call it what you will; having been unveiled in this latest form at the 2018 Geneva motor show, it has just been in receipt of a dose of extra power, a retuned power steering system, a retuned stability control system and only a very few hardware tweaks besides.
Looks... well, angrier, doesn’t it? Audi’s exterior design tweaks are probably the most significant changes that have been wrought on the car, and among them are a lower, wider, meaner-looking single-frame radiator grille, a more jutting front splitter and a reprofiled bonnet.
The car’s rear diffuser has been pumped up in volume, too, and its exhaust redesigned as what looks, at first glance, like a twin-pipe system of quite monstrous proportions. And then you realise, inevitably, that the real pipes are hidden away behind those oversized round bits of plastic trim. An odd tactic on a car with a glass engine cover, and whose chassis legs and induction system can clearly be seen from around the rear end at close quarters if you care to gaze through the right piece of mesh grille. Why put all that on display and then fake the tailpipes? It’s a mystery to me.
The 5.2-litre atmospheric V10 that the R8 shares with the Lamborghini Huracán now makes more power and torque than before. The entry-level R8 is up from 532- to a peak 562bhp, while the upper-level version (dubbed the R8 V10 Plus before and the ‘Performance’ now, in line with the naming convention of the rest of Audi Sport’s RS range) is up to 612bhp from 602. The R8 Performance gets the bigger gain of the two derivates on torque, delivered as a result of new titanium valvetrain componentry and some software retuning. Both R8s also get an emissions-reducing gas particulate trap as part of the engine update.
Matt Prior had a track-only drive in the R8 in Spain late last year, in upper-level ‘Performance’ guise. Now we try the lesser-powered version with right-hand drive.