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2019 Audi R8 V10 Quattro Review

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 2019 Audi R8 V10 Quattro Review

When you get a chance to test drive Audi’s latest R8 supercar, you jump at the opportunity and enjoy the car as much as you can. We recently drove the latest V10 R8, and here is what we thought about it.

What is the 2019 Audi R8 V10 Quattro all about?

Even if you’ve never seen a supercar in your life, if you’re an alien who landed on Earth just a few moments ago, you’ll be instantly able to recognise the Audi R8 is something pretty special. It’s not just another supercar, because it is the definitive supercar of our time. Nothing else defines the term supercar quite like the R8 does. It’s low, it’s slick, it’s aggressive, and it’s got loads of presence and character. It’s definitely not the most handsome supercar, but it has an intangible quality that most of its rivals don’t.

When Audi first launched the original R8 back in 2006, they completely flipped the supercar world upside down. Although it technically shared most of its components with the Lamborghini Gallardo, a lot of people thought it looked better. Anyone who’s ever had the privilege of seeing a Gallardo in the flesh realises how big of a compliment that is. The Audi R8 became an overnight sensation and a must-have for any Hollywood celebrity, but it wasn’t a one-trick pony. Audi took their sweet time developing it to make sure it drives better than anything else their rivals were offering at the time, and the end result spoke for itself.

Fast forward nine years and we get to 2015, and the introduction of the second-gen R8. Retaining most of the original car’s components but featuring an updated design, it didn’t take long before it quickly started outselling most of its competitors. For the 2019 model Audi decided to introduce a facelift, addressing some of the criticism people had with the original second-gen R8.

The new R8 is based on the Le Mans-winning LMS GT3 racecar, but it makes do without the crazy aero for obvious reasons. To make it look sharper and even more aggressive, Audi revised the front bumper vents, introduced new hood slats, and widened the front grille. Round the back they made the exhaust pipes slightly more round (similar to how there were in the first-gen R8), they completely redesigned the diffuser and made it wider, and they took the liberty of designing and fitting new wheels. All of these changes add up to create one of the most jaw-dropping cars I’ve ever driven. The amount of attention the Audi R8 gets is astonishing. It’s remarkable.

Then again, we already knew all of that. The question is, has the Audi R8 still got what it takes to compete at the top, given that the engine is essentially a variant of the old V10. In a nutshell, yes it has. As the old saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The V10 has always been the defining characteristic of the Audi R8, and removing it would be like taking a chunk out of the car’s soul.

In the latest R8 the 5.2-litre V10 makes 570 horsepower and 560 Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro system, and it passes through their brilliant 7-speed  S-tronic DCT along the way. The centre diff is electronically controlled with a multi-plate clutch, and there’s a proper mechanical differential at the back.

 How does it drive?

Saying the R8 feels fast would be the understatement of the century. It can sprint to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds, but it won’t stop accelerating all the way to 201 mph. The screaming V10 further enhances the driving experience and makes you feel like you’re in a GT3 car. Using even half of its power on the public road is almost impossible. Anything over three seconds on the loud pedal and you’re approaching ‘jail time’ speeds. It’s absurdly quick.

The brilliance of the R8 is that you don’t have to be driving at a bazillion miles per hour to enjoy it. It rewards you at normal cruising speeds with a remarkably neutral chassis and a steering wheel which loves to give you feedback.

It’s refined and sumptuous too. On UK roads with the dampers turned all the way to comfort, you can barely tell you’re in a low-slung supercar. The ride quality is superb. I’ve heard Ferrari’s latest dampers make even their hardcore track variants really compliant on the road, but I feel like the R8 could be better still. It feels like a road car first and foremost. You can genuinely use an R8 as a daily driver, but you have to enjoy spending a lot of time at the petrol station to do so.

 What is it like inside?

In a word? Absolutely brilliant. It’s an Audi, so it’s pretty much what I expected it to be. Quality materials everywhere, a great design, and second-to-none fit and finish. Honestly, if you want a luxurious supercar which isn’t built for speed alone, nothing comes even remotely close to the R8. The Bentley Continental is more luxurious, but it’s also some 500 kilograms heavier. The Audi R8 threads a fine line between sportiness and luxury. It’s not a sparse trackday special that’s unbearable on the road, but it’s not a big GT car either. It combines the best of both worlds better than any supercar to date in my opinion.

Because Audi has redesigned the cabin, you now get the magnificent virtual cockpit we’ve come to know and love from other Audi models. The 12.3-inch screen is really clear and bright, with a user-friendly design and intuitive menus. Both the MMI navigation system and the MMi touch wheel come as standard too, and you even get an Audi Connect module which allows the passenger to connect their smartphone to the car through the Wi-Fi hotspot. Elsewhere, you get the usual range of Alcantara/Nappa leather, and almost everything can be customized to your heart’s desire through the Audi Exclusive programme.

The experience

As much as it pains me to say this, I think I’d rather own an R8 over a Huracan. The design is slightly more understated and conservative, which I like, and you get the same explosive V10 at the back so no complaints there. Where the R8 really shines, for me, is the cabin and the user experience. The quality of the interior is better than the Lambo, and I feel like it’s more luxurious as well. Then again, it isn’t as hardcore as the Huracan, but that’s why I prefer it as a road car.

 2019 Audi R8 V10 Quattro Cost

At £128,200 the Audi R8 V10 is anything but cheap, and once you throw in some options in there like bespoke wheels and red brake callipers, that figure can easily climb to £134,380 or more, which is what our test car came at. Yes, that is a lot of money, but ask yourself what else you can get for the same price which accomplishes the same job. Not much, right?

 Verdict

It’s Audi’s flagship for a reason. Very few cars can match its real-world performance, and even fewer are quite as accomplished. It’s the best all-around supercar for the road, full stop.

Specification

2019 Audi R8 V10 Quattro Specs

  • Price: £134,380
  • Engine: 5.2-litre N/A V10
  • Power: 570 bhp
  • Torque: 560 Nm
  • Transmission: seven-speed DCT
  • 0-62mph:  3,4 seconds
  • Top speed: 201 mph
  • Weight: 1,585 kg
  • Economy combined:  21.6 mpg
  • CO2: 293 g/km

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