2014 Audi R8 V10 plus review, test drive

    The range-topper of the current Audi R8 models delivers huge performance, without sacrificing too much everyday usability.

    Published on Apr 04, 2015 07:00:00 AM

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    What’s it like to drive?

    We’ve always said that if you can drive a medium to large-sized luxury sedan, driving the R8 is not much more of a challenge, apart from being a little bit lower to the ground. That’s still largely true with this one – visibility is good, the seats are comfortable (even these winged sports buckets on the Plus), the controls are as you expect them to be, and with the gearbox in automatic and Sport mode disengaged, it’s like any other Audi.

    The biggest change that came with the facelift a few years ago was not the new LED indicator lights that ‘swiped’ in the direction you were turning – it was the automatic gearbox. The shift from the R-tronic single-clutch to the S-tronic dual-clutch unit transformed the way the R8 behaved at anything less than race speed. It became much easier to move away from a standstill in traffic, and the gearshifts themselves were smoother and more intuitive – it was the last crease ironed out in making the R8 properly usable every day. That all still holds true in the V10 Plus, with the only dramatic change from the standard car being the ride. It’s a whole lot firmer, and though this is understandably no A-to-B commuter car, driving it on poor road surfaces will become tiresome after a short while, as will the rather heavy steering.

    Then there’s the Sport button. Unlike most Audis, whose Drive Select menu lets you tailor the engine, gearbox, steering and suspension to your needs, the R8 just has one single Sport button that does it all for you, and rightly so, in a car like this. Pushing it sends the V10 Plus into maximum attack mode, and let’s just say, you’d better have a racetrack or a superb stretch of road spread out in front of you before you dare venture here. The stiff ride becomes stiffer still, the gearbox will downshift abruptly to keep the revs high, and the V10 alternates between barking and screaming, depending on where your right foot is. It’s a massive transformation, and one you should not bother using in town; it’s simply too fierce. On the right road though, it is an immense thrill. The engine note is just incredible, the shifts quick, the power delivery of the naturally aspirated motor so precise. Thanks to more power and less weight, the R8 V10+ reaches 100kph in a shocking 3.9 seconds which is half a second faster than the normal V10. Even more mind bending is the 12.1-sec time it takes to reach 200kph, which is as fast or faster than most mid-size sedans take to reach 100kph!

    Through the bends, there’s a huge amount of grip from the fat tyres. The Quattro AWD system means it puts all that power down without any drama, and it would take far more bravery than I could muster to try and unsettle it in a corner. It stops hard too, thanks to carbon ceramic brakes, whose grabbiness will take a little getting used to. As will the slight gurgling sound you hear when the pads meet the discs.

    Audi Cars

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