2020 has been a rough year, but there have been occasional sharp spots in the midst of domestic political turmoil and disruption of normal life related to the global epidemic. Like the long weekend I spent with the $ 195,900 Audi R8 V10 Performance Coupe Quattro. Any day I find something to drive, it is a good day after all. Especially when it happens to the kind of car that is probably not with us.
Our first taste of the second generation Audi supercar was back in 2017. Mechanically, the R8 V10’s performance coupe quattro is much like what we found back in the R8 V10. Its centerpiece is that the naturally aspirated 5.2L V10 is shared (much more under the skin) with the Lamborghini Huron. (Audi bought Lamborghini back in 1998.) Hand-built in Hungary, the V10 produces 602hp (449kW) at a heady 8,100rpm, with peak torque figure of 413lb-ft (560Nm) at 6,700rpm. Which is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and in the case of the rear axle, through clutch-based torque-vectoring that replaces a conventional differential.
Externally, the R8 has undergone slight changes. There are a few more vents that allow the cooling air to enter the car and some more that help it to move backwards, but the tweaks are subtle.
Perhaps the biggest functional upgrade from the owner’s point of view is the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the infotainment system. Unlike the Huracan, the R8 does not have a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display in front of the driver, a separate infotainment screen. And so it is here that we find the smartphone casting interface, which makes using your phone’s navigation more user-friendly than most cars as a whole, where you have to look at the center stack to get your directions Will happen. (NB: This is not a touchscreen, you navigate the infotainment with either a multifunction steering wheel or a jog dial in the center console.)
Other notable technological upgrades are laser high-beam headlights. Developed first for all of Audi’s winning Le Mans prototypes, the company had to wait several years before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be fitted to a US-market vehicle. Beams can still only throw about half their light as far as European regulators allow, but this is a significant improvement compared to traditional high beams, especially if your night vision compromises something like astigmatism.
In fact, I made good use of laser light. Something about the epidemic has had a jet lag-like effect on my sleep cycles, waking me regularly well before dawn. Some may find it annoying, but traffic is the natural enemy of the supercar, and the roads empty before dawn, so I haven’t minded too much — at least when a fun driver’s car is parked outside.
And r 8 is A fun driver’s car. As with most mid-engined machinery from the driver’s seat, it gives you the feeling of being mounted on the pointed end, where you are being pushed back by the mass and power of that engine.
It is a more civilized experience than a Lamborghini Huracan. Comfortably, with transmission shifting for itself, it is an easy car to drive slowly, even. But it feels a little special to serve as an everyday commuter car or grocery driver, and like most 600hp cars you’ll be lucky enough to reach double-digit MPG while driving it in the city. (EPA 168g (14.7l / 100km) combined R8 rate.)
It also sounds less raucous than the Huracan, although naturally aspirated V10 to these ears still seems orders of magnitude better than any of the turbocharged rivals of the R8. It’s not quite F1-level – the redline is at 8,700rpm, not 19,000rpm – but it’s an amazing Howell nonetheless. (Sorry, sorry if I wake you up during my earlier drive.)
While the R8 doesn’t seem to be on its toes as much as the Lamborghini (especially the Huracan Evo model), it doesn’t mean it feels passive or sluggish. In dynamic mode, it takes 3.2 seconds from zero to 60mph, as fast as the McLaren F1 but more user-friendly thanks to paddle shifters and all-wheel drive. You can break the traction and tilt its hips if you prod it with too much throttle during cornering. But it is easy to guess and easy to catch, something that you can call on demand rather than a malicious handling attribute that gives you consistent protection.
In 2017, I announced that the R8 was our pick of junior supercars (think 600hp and ~ $ 200,000). Nothing about my time with the facelift R8 makes me think it was wrong – it’s good practicality for a mid-engined supercar, and like its Italian cousin it feels better than the competition, naturally. As a result of its engine aspiration.
However, there is a reason that just about every other manufacturer has gone for forced induction of their exotica. Modern emissions regulations are much easier to meet with turbochargers, and so they don’t really make them that way.
Image listed by Jonathan Gitlin