Audi shocked the industry when it introduced its stunning R8 supercar in 2006. It was the German company's first demonstration of how it could compete with the established supercar giants with only a little help from Lamborghini -- a sub-brand of the VW Group. As a result, the Audi R8 shares some DNA with the Lamborghini Gallardo, but is far cheaper to buy and easier to drive, without losing any sense of occasion or its head turning looks. A supercar that you really can use everyday, the R8 may not be particularly practical, but it's genuinely comfortable and comes keenly priced if you avoid the extensive options list. That said, a host of updates at the start of 2013 improved equipment, with all cars getting LED headlights, sat-nav and heated leather seats as standard. There is a choice of V8 and V10, with a faster V10 Plus model for those craving a little more power and an even sportier drive.
Mat: When Audi introduced the R8 in 2008 they proved to the world they could make a supercar that can compete with the Ferrari and Lamborghini. Yet because it's an Audi it's almost as easy to live with as an A3!
But now to keep the R8 feeling fresh Audi has just updated it with some design tweaks. There's restyled nose with all LED lamps while the back features new exhaust surrounds and the coolest indicators in the world.
Audi has also added a new model to the range. It's called the V10 Plus and gets a more aggressive chassis set up, a 25bhp power upgrade over the normal V10, ceramic brakes and plenty of carbon fiber.
It even has more carbon fiber inside such has here on the dash and gets bucket seats as standard. However, Audi has upped the equipment list on the other models too. The normal V10 now gets extended leather while all versions now come with sat-nav, iPod connectivity, heated seats and mobile phone preparation standard.
The R8 has the classic mid-engined super car set up. You can go for a 4.2-litre V8 version with 424hp, which can 0-62mph in around four and a half seconds. But while that's easily fast enough you don't want that one because that engine is also available in an A4 Estate car. What you want is the V10 because not only does it have over 500bhp the engine comes from a Lamborghini Gallardo and it makes the R8 not only feel and sound like a true supercar.
If there was one problem with the old R8 it was that it's auto box was a bit rubbish. But I have some good news. Audi has given the R8 a new dual clutch seven speed automatic gearbox which is brilliant. It's so good I'd recommend it over the manual. In auto mode it's smooth enough for pottering round town and if you want to change gears yourself using the paddles the car will swap cogs faster than you can blink.
There's another benefit to the automatic model. It includes launch control and when engaged the 543bhp V10 Plus can sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds.
Okay to operate it I put my foot on the brake, select sport mode for the gearbox and the stability control, floor the throttle then release the brake.... And that's 60 I better back off, I don't want to brake the law. We don't do that here at CarBuyer.
To be fair it's quite easy to find yourself above the speed limit in the R8 is so easy to drive fast. The all wheel drive system provides oodles of grip, the steering is sharp and unless you have a spirit level you won't notice any lean through corners. This is a super car which will flatter the novice with it's balance and stability yet it's capability and rear-drive bias means it will entertain the expert too.
On top of all this the R8 is very comfy for a supercar, especially if you go for the magnetic ride adaptable suspension which is standard on the V10. Unfortunately this V10 plus doesn't have them. Instead it gets bespoke lowered stiffer fixed spring suspension. And while this, revised steering and the carbon ceramic brakes make it even better to drive on track they don't make it better to drive on the road, which if you are honest is where you'll be driving your R8 most of the time....
As for other problems, the cabin may be well built, however the design is starting to look a little dated, especially the infotainment system which doesn't even come with digital radio. And seeing as this is a CarBuyer review we need to talk about practicality. Yes it's supercar so it's never going to be very good but R8's meagre storage makes even a Porsche 911 seem like family friendly transport.
Finally there's the high running costs and the price, but actually compared to other supercars this Audi is incredible value. And really there are few cars even at twice the price, which can turn heads like the R8 especially this V10 Plus in matte blue paint. Job done.