The R8 V10 is the maximum performance version of Audi's Lamborghini Gallardo-based supercar. It shares its voluptuous sheetmetal and user-friendly nature with the standard, V8-engined model, but packs significantly more muscle - 525 horsepower, to be exact.
For the latest model year, Audi freshened the R8 V10's styling and replaced the antiquated six-speed single-clutch gearbox with a thoroughly modern seven-speed dual-clutch unit that improves efficiency and provides smoother, quicker shifts.
Though it's beginning to get on in years, the R8 remains one of more appealing supercars on the market due to a mix of stirring driving dynamics, surprising practicality and, of course, double take-inducing good looks.
The last point is especially true of the R8 V10, builds on the exotic appearance and mid-engine proportions of the V8 model with larger side air intakes, more aggressive side sills and upsized wheels. Revised headlights, taillights, bumpers and other minor stylistic updates help cognoscenti tell the latest model apart from its predecessor.
Like much else in the R8 V10, the arresting sheetmetal is constructed from aluminum in order to keep performance-sapping mass to a minimum - Audi says the car checks in at just under 3,500 pounds.
As the supercar's name suggests, it's powered by a 5.2-liter V10. Sourced from Lamborghini, the mill produces 525 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 391 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm in addition to thrilling noises throughout the rev range Maximum engine speed is a staggering 8,700 rpm. A gated six-speed manual that clacks its way through the gears like a glorious vintage Italian sports car is standard, but maximum performance times are achieved with the available seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
With the dual-clutch fitted, the R8 is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 195 mph.
An even quicker R8 V10 Plus derivative ups the horsepower count to 550. Perhaps more importantly, it sheds 150 pounds through the use of carbon fiber for the side blades, front splitter, rear diffuser and spoiler. Also contributing to the weight savings are a smaller fuel tank reduced sound insulation and manual seats in place of the standard car's power-adjustable thrones. Audi conservatively claims a 3.4-second zero-to-60 mph sprint.
All R8 V10 models make the most of their power with a quattro four-wheel drive system that distributes output variably to the front and rear axles by way of a viscous clutch. It's a boon for acceleration and also ensure better fuel-weather performance than many other supercars.
Fuel economy - rarely a point of interest for supercar buyers - suffers due to the potent V10 and all-wheel-drive. The stick-shifted model returns 12/19 city/highway mpg, while the dual-clutch-equipped variant is good for 13/22 mpg.
Along with aluminum double wishbones at the front and rear, the suspension features an 'Audi magnetic ride' adaptive damper system that can be configured to provide sporty driving dynamics or a softer ride. The latter is cushy enough that the R8 V10 could conceivably be used as a daily driver.
Direct, hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering offers a feedback-filled, characterful counterpoint to the numb electric-assist systems that feature in many modern performance machines.
The Inside Story
The cabin matches the visual drama of the exterior thanks to details such as sweeping trim and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and high-quality materials are employed throughout. Buyers looking for an even more luxurious experience can choose from a long list of optional extra, including supple Nappa leather upholstery, an alcantara headliner and carbon fiber trim.
While there's plenty of space for driver and passenger, the R8 V10 isn't blessed with an overabundance of trunk space. The front trunk (known as a frunk) measures just 3.5 cubic feet and is oddly shaped; Audi claims that a pair of golf bags can be fitted behind the seats, although that might not be achievable for taller drivers.
Navigation and entertainment functions are accessed through Audi's MMI system, which is one of the more intuitive infotainment setups on the market. However, unlike in other Audi models, the R8's MMI controls aren't located in an easily accessible position center - instead, they're mounted somewhat awkwardly on the dash. Luckily, a standard voice command system eliminates this problem.
Equipment and Trim
Standard features on the R8 V10 include supple Nappa leather upholstery, a navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic, a seven-speaker, a 12 speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen AM/FM/CD stereo system with SiriusXM satellite radio, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, front and rear ultrasonic parking sensors and full LED exterior lighting.
The Storage Package, optional on the V8, is standard here; it adds two nets on the back of the seats, a luggage net on the rear shelf and a folding compartment under the passenger seat.
Available options include the Full Fine Nappa Leather Package, extends the Nappa treatment from the seats to the door inserts, dashboard and instrument panel. There's also the Diamond Stitch Full Leather Package, which adds an exquisite diamond stitching pattern to the seats and door inserts.
Dual front, side/thorax and knee airbags are fitted as standard. Traction and stability control systems and electronic brake assist are also included.
The R8 V10 is built on a small-lot production line in a specially constructed block at the Audi plant in Neckarsulm. The entire production process -- from the bodyshell construction to final assembly -- is organized in the same way as a craft workshop. Small teams of specialists accompany every step of production, ensuring that every car built is up to quality standards.
Rivals to the R8 V10 include exotics like the blindingly quick Porsche 911 Turbo S, the elegant, old-school Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the Formula 1-inspired Ferrari 458 Italia.