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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

The R8’s engine plays a hugely dominant role in its mystique; it’s almost as if the V10’s dramatic sound and fury have been artificially amplified for the benefit of owners who’d rather walk than consider a rival with a smaller, less mechanically exotic engine.

They haven’t, of course – not, at least, by anything as simple as a sound symposer or by playing warbling noises through the stereo speakers.

The R8 could have used the connected feel of the old car’s wonderfully metallic manual six-speeder

But in a much cooler and more calculating sense, the car feels like its every component has been fettled and optimised in order to produce as much visceral speed from that V10 as Audi could possibly manage.

The seven-speed S tronic gearbox seldom seems to waste a nanosecond between ratios and is calibrated in its more sporting automatic modes to hold onto lower gears very determinedly indeed.

So even though the car’s power delivery is inherently less flexible than that of its turbocharged rivals, on the road you’d be amazed if those rivals were any faster.

And when you need this car to pick up and go, whether you leave it to kick down or select its lower ratios yourself, it really accelerates hard – not as effortlessly as some of its competition, but every bit as quickly.

It’s a big scalp for Audi that, despite losing out from a standing start by a solitary tenth of a second, the R8 V10 Plus outsprinted the benchmark Porsche 911 Turbo S to 100mph by almost half a second.

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It’s actually as close to the performance level of the McLaren 650S as the car that, for decades, has set the standard for the sub-supercar class on accelerative punch.

You can’t afford to be afraid to use every last millimetre of accelerator pedal travel and every available revolution of the crankshaft if you want to tap into that violence.

But that’s not to say the R8 makes it difficult to wring out its maximum – not remotely. Engage launch control mode and the driveline hooks up with the road surface with merciless efficiency.

The tacho needle promptly rushes around to the 8700rpm redline and then never strays more than 2000rpm from it, as the gearbox throws ratio after short-stacked ratio downstream of the crankshaft and the car erupts forwards with somehow equal smoothness and savagery.

The brake pedal feel is a touch disappointing, with initial over-assistance affecting the progressiveness of the optional carbon-ceramic stoppers of our test car. Outright stopping power is strong but not outstanding, but resistance to fade is excellent.