Over a decade ago Audi announced their first ever two-seater sports car in the R8, but how good is its recently-launched replacement? Here’s my review…

  • 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10
  • 602 bhp and 413 lb-ft of torque
  • 0-62 mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph
  • Seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox
  • Quattro four-wheel drive system

Performance and gearbox

Whilst a lot of things have changed about the new R8, one of the things that’s remained the same is its engine. Powered by the same 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 as its predecessor, the new R8 V10 Plus pushes out 602 bhp – up from 518 bhp in the previous base model – and revs all the way up to 8,500 rpm. These figures allow the car to shave off half a second from its 0-62 mph time, taking it from 3.7 seconds to just 3.2. More importantly though is its exhaust note; it sounds bloody amazing!

When the original V10 R8 launched back in 2008, it came with the seven-speed semi-automatic R Tronic gearbox which was pretty rubbish if I’m being honest. Audi sorted this out when the car was facelifted in 2012 though, replacing it with a new S Tronic version which is still used to this day. That gearbox is absolutely spot on. The gear changes are pristine, it feels great to use, and it’s just so damn fast.

These two factors really combine excellently, with the car feeling like quite literally the fastest thing I’ve ever driven. It’s unbelievable at times how fast this car actually is, and you often find yourself trying to catch your breath when driving it.

Now I know some may not like the fact the ‘new’ R8 uses the ‘old’ engine and gearbox, but to me that’s a good thing. It means they’ve both been tweaked and perfected year after year to not only give optimum performance, but also greater reliability.

Star rating: ★★★★★

Audi R8 V10 Plus 2015 - Gearbox

Handling and drive

One of the best things about the new R8 is its drive. Whilst the engine and gearbox may be the same, absolutely nothing about it feels the same when you have it on the road. It’s not only 150 kg lighter than the predecessor, but the entire chassis has received a wealth of changes to make it the best driving R8 yet.

My biggest criticism of the old R8 was that it was more style than substance. It looked like a supercar but compared to others it was just lacking in almost every area – but not now. Now it’s an absolute joy to drive, and something that promotes so much confidence when you push it hard. It’s wonderfully balanced with an unbelievable amount of grip from it’s Quattro four-wheel drive system, especially on turn-in and mid-corner.

Star rating: ★★★★★

Audi R8 V10 Plus 2015 - Rear

Styling

The previous generation R8 was a gorgeous looking car when it first launched but it quickly showed its age, and let’s be honest it didn’t really match up for looks against the Lamborghini Gallardo or Ferrari 458.

Now whilst I would still rather have a Huracan or 488 GTB, you have to give it to Audi here, they’ve seriously stepped up. It’s a beautiful piece of kit and looks every bit a supercar from all angles. The front is sexy and exotic, the back is mean and aggressive, and I absolutely love that spoiler.

Some may feel that it maybe looks a bit too alike the previous model, but that’s the Audi way – evolution over revolution. I loved the old one anyway, so you won’t catch me complaining!

Star rating: ★★★★☆

Audi R8 V10 Plus 2015 - Front

Interior and spec

My biggest gripe with the old R8 was its interior. It just looked so average for a high end sports car and got outdated really quickly. Audi have really addressed that too, with the new interior oozing that supercar feel wherever you look. The steering wheel looks class, there’s carbon fibre and leather everywhere, and the diamond quilted seats both look great and feel comfortable too.

Spec wise, the R8 is every bit German. It’s got all of your usual high spec such as bluetooth, heated electric seats, Bang & Olufsen sound and plenty of other gadgets, but also this super cool Virtual Cockpit display. It’s a full colour screen that sits inside your instrument cluster which supplies driving information, media controls, communication services and even sat nav.

Star rating: ★★★★★

Audi R8 V10 Plus 2015 - Interior

Conclusion

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is a completely different car to its predecessor and has been improved in every single way. It borrows a lot of tech from the Lamborghini Huracan and in doing so has become a true supercar – not one that just looks like one. It’s every bit a race car and truly one of the best cars on the road.

One big thing for me though is why you’d buy one over a Huracan? That’s not to criticise the R8 at all as it’s a remarkable car, but would you not rather spend an extra £20,000 and get the latest and greatest full blooded Lamborghini?

Regardless I can honestly say it’s the most impressive car I’ve ever driven, and one that’s an unbelievable experience every time you’re sitting in it. It’s something that every petrolhead needs in their life – and I absolutely love it.

Star rating: ★★★★★

Calvin Fehr

I'm a car fanatic that buys cars, sells cars, reviews cars and does pretty much anything else to do with cars. I drive different cars daily from Fords to Ferraris, and video myself on my journeys to and from work.

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