Volkswagen owns Audi , Porsche , Lamborghini , Bugatti and Bentley . This adds several luxury and sports car brands under the VW Group umbrella. In an attempt to diversify its portfolio Audi introduced the R8 , its new flagship in supercar territory.
The R8 is based on the Lamborghini Gallardo platform, and was named after the Audi R8 race car. Since, it launch, the vehicle has seen several new variants, we drive the newly launched R8 V10 Plus , which is the flagship model of the R8 and to stretch its legs, we take it to the Buddh International Circuit.
We have previously driven on BIC, and know the track pretty well. Hence, we decided to take the Audi R8 on to the track, to find out how good is it, on the long straight, on the hairpins and the parabolic curve on this track. Read further as the mystery unfolds.
As a part of the update to the 2013 R8, Audi introduced a new spec flagship and labelled it as the plus. Visually, it gets a new redesigned grille and headlamp design has been tweaked too. Several body panels have been changed, not for the shape but to reduce the weight.
The R8 V10 Plus is about 50 kilograms lighter than the regular version, of which about 12kgs come from the new ceramic brakes that are standard on Plus and optional on other models. Several panels are now made of carbon fibre reinforced polymer and this has resulted in a lighter vehicle. The wheels are also forged aluminium that helps to flab some more weight.
The interiors of the R8 are simple and ergonomically designed. The good bit is that it doesn’t have several buttons like most of the other cars in its segment, which increases the confusion. Also, the quality of materials, the fit and finish both are top notch.
We like the design of the gear lever and it does feel sporty, from the moment you engage it into A. Here, it has A(auto), manual, R (reverse) and P (park) modes that are so easy to engage in.
The R8 is a two seater, and there are no rear seats as the engine is mounted at the middle, for better weight balance. The front seats are large and are bucket-like, as they cocoon around you. We like the driving position of the vehicle, as the visibility is good without any blind spots like most of the vehicles have.
The R8 V10 Plus has a 5.2-litre engine, however it being the flagship it produces 550bhp of power and 540Nm of torque, about 20bhp more than the regular V10. The engine isn’t just more powerful, but even the reduced weight enhances the performance. Floor your right foot and get ready to get pushed back into your seat. The surge created by the engine will produce a bellow in your chest. The twin exhaust growl is the perfect fodder to sooth an enthusiast’s ears.
The seven-speed S-Tronic transmission is a jewel. It shifts at blink of your eyelid if you need those quick shifts, else it can upshift smoothly without any jerks. You can drive it comfort and sport mode. In the comfort, the steering is light and even the exhaust note is not that grunty. Once you engage the sport mode, the steering wheel weighs up, the exhaust growls and even the throttle response is augmented.
Driving Dynamics :
Audi R8 is a car built for daily usage, hence the ride suppleness is excellent and doesn’t feel harsh or stiff at any given time. The R8 is another example of modern sports cars, which have softer suspension set-up in the comfort mode for practical purposes, thus enhancing the level of passenger expediency.
The suspension in the sport mode ride is a wee bit stiff, and that’s about it. Even the light steering wheel makes driving a breeze in city traffic.
The handling of the R8 is agile. The handling in the comfort mode is good, but once you budge to Sport mode, the iron man flexes his muscles. The superior steering urgency makes it more precise, direct and driver involving than before. The beautiful chassis balance and the grip levels offered by meaty tyres give ample of opportunities to play with corners and tight-hairpin bends. The other good bit of the R8 is it strikes a perfect weight balance with the mid-mounted engine and even the quattro ensures grip on all time.
He Audi R8 V10 Plus costs about Rs 2.05 crores (ex-showroom, Delhi). This might sound steep, however when you compare it to competition is the best value for your buck, and at the same time a highly practical super car. You can take it to work daily, and it can driven in comfort not just to office but it can cruise on the highway like a GT without any issues. You can save more than a crore if you pick this over the Lamborghini Gallardo and get similar hardware too, though with a different badge.