‘m officially ruined. No car will ever be the same after the Audi R8. But not just any R8. The R8 V10 – wait for it – Plus. That Plus stands for an extra 25hp, extra weight savings (130lbs to be exact) that is reflective of a smaller fuel tank and carbon fiber for as long as the eye can see.
Ceramic brakes come standard, as does the S-tronic dual-clutch – it replaces the much maligned R-tronic of the year before. That said, the S-tronic is explosively fast. And although I don’t have a first hand experience, it’s a bit like driving a race car.
If there is any question why one wouldn’t get a Tesla S – they all cost less than the V10 Plus – just simply fire up the naturally aspirated petrol powered monster. The engine notes are akin to that of a Greek God; bellowing down, bestowing one with all the confidence they’ll ever need.
But fear not. The R8 is astonishingly easy to drive. First off, there is hydraulic steering. None of that muted electronic crap. Just the road, you and a set of hands. The seat is low slung so you’re perfectly in line with the R8′s center of gravity. Hit a turn at 50mph and suddenly you realize you can exit it 25mph faster – yes, it’s that grippy and connected.
Brakes are carbon ceramic. Arguably over kill for any street legal car. And while the R8′s was my first experience, I’ve long understood them to be harsh and disconnected with the brake pedal such that short stops are par for the course. And while the R8′s ceramic brakes aren’t perfect, and require some heating up before they start to perform, they’re down right tolerable and hardly a point of contention.
Unlike the more tame R8, the Plus version of the car sports fixed rate shocks (i.e. not adjustable). Now, that isn’t to say the R8′s ride comfort is back shattering, far from in fact. Perhaps it’s best described as being connected. Nooks, crannies, cracks and pot holes are evidently conveyed through out the cabin. But with that ever so slight caveat comes road holding that is sure to elicit something to the tune of disbelief.
Thanks to Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive tail whipping is far and few between. Unless of course you turn off traction control and lay your foot firmly to the ground. Engage “launch control”, and the beast’s rear bias nature is made evident. How to do so? Traction control off, sport mode on, left foot on the brake, right foot on the gas, rev to 5,500 rpm and hold the f*ck on. But as quick as it flies off the line from 0-60 (3.3 seconds) it regains control, equally distributing force across the 4 massive tires that could bankrupt the average American’s bank account.
My first launch control – on a closed street of course – was almost head spinning. Which is to say it was something like riding on a roller coaster. The second and third attempts were a less muted experience, but only because of acclimation. The short of it: launch control never gets old.
The interior’s fit and finish isn’t ultra tight, with rattles and squeaks during spirited drives – a moot concern though. I did take significant issue with the lack of USB support, as well as the inability to play back music via Bluetooth – phone calls only. What?!?! A $190,000 car and I can’t play music wirelessly through the upgrade stereo system. Fortunately, it “kicks” pretty well. Making matters worse, is that the default iPhone connection is limited to that of the iPhone 4s or older, and the included cord is just long enough to measure most men’s man hood.
It’s been argued that Audi’s R8 is no supercar. I detest any such claim. And not because it’s light weight or that is mid-engine. Or because it costs $190,000. The R8 V10 Plus is a Super Car because it’s the perfect intersection of value and overkil. It delivers a visceral experience that is largely left unparalleled by most sports cars. Some might point to the Nissan GT-R, or Porsche’s 911 as contenders. And while I’ve driven neither and can’t rightfully disagree, I can attest to the R8′s ability to turn heads regardless of ones allegiance.