What is it?
This is a supercharged Audi R8 V8.
This is achieved via a kit, created by VF-Engineering in California that is loosely billed as providing more than the power of the V10 in the lighter package of the V8.
The headline figures are that the car now has 548bhp at 7500rpm – up 30bhp on the V10, but 12bhp down on the hardcore GT – and 437lb ft of torque at 4800rpm, up from 391lb ft on the standard car and 398lb ft on the GT.
Yet, despite the additional parts, APS says the car is only around 10kg heavier than standard – meaning it remains around 50kg lighter than the V10 (and around the same weight more than the GT).
Chiefly, this is achieved using a roots type Magnuson/Eaton TVS 1900 supercharger that runs at between six and seven psi, a billet aluminum housing containing an air/water heat exchanger and new ECU software created by GIAC, which has ten years experience of supercharging in its home market in California.
VF assures buyers that the system won’t affect reliability, pointing to its 12 months of development testing on the road, track and dyno, and the fact that it has run successfully on other cars. It also gives a one-year unlimited mileage warranty.
The cost for all this? £17,500.
What’s it like?
Somewhat inevitably, very rapid, although it would take a very good, very committed driver to discern how much faster and nimbler (or otherwise) than a V10 engined car it is. What’s clear is that the supercharger achieves its goal of giving the V8 at least V10 levels of performance.
All this extra speed arrives throughout the rev band, without any loss in refinement. That in itself is impressive, and means the supercharged R8 remains as smooth and controllable as the standard car.
We ran the car in its standard setting, but there are other options available through a plug-in handheld unit including ‘Race Fuel’ which optimises ignition if you opt to run high-octane fuel or ‘valet mode’, which cuts power if you decide to hand over the keys to someone else.
It’s worth noting, too, that the kit don’t come with any sort of ‘look at me’ modifications. There’s a tiny ‘supercharged’ badge on the rear and, beyond that, the only way you’ll know the car isn’t standard is if you peer into the engine bay.
Should I buy one?
If you are in the market for a new R8, there’s next to no point buying a V8 and speccing it like this. Yes, you get more performance, but the opportunities to use it will be rare, and the £2210 you’ll save over the price of a new V10 (which is better specced anyway) is a drop in the ocean, especially when potential resale losses are taken into account.
However, if you already have a V8, feel it’s just not fast enough, are willing to pay for the inevitable extra wear and tear of running your car harder, then it might be worth taking a look at the kit.