"Dude, it’s like I’m driving an A4. It’s so easy! But when you get out and look back at the car, that’s when you realize...wow!”
Yet once I was alone with the car later that day, with Drive Select in the most aggressive Dynamic setting, I found myself charging up to the V10’s 8,500rpm redline, gaining speed with a ferocity that can make you feel more like a passenger than a driver. That the Audi R8 can change its persona so dramatically—genteel Dr. Jekyll one moment, feral Mr. Hyde the next—is truly its party piece.
That’s what makes modern supercars like this so compelling. Gone are the days when owning one meant having to live with compromises, trading usability for excitement.
Any bona fide gearhead knows the V10 from the old model was borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo. This new R8’s relationship to the Huracan—the Gallardo’s successor—is even closer: The cars not only share the same engine, but are also based on the same hybrid aluminum-carbon-fiber chassis. But the headline is that the mighty V10 is finally fully uncorked. The R8 gets the same 610 galloping horses as its pricier Italian cousin.
Acceleration is savage, that normally aspirated V10 popping and crackling on the overrun and delivering one of the most exhilarating hits of octane-laced adrenaline money can buy. It is an experience owners aren’t likely to tire of, long after the ‘new-car smell’ has worn off.
It retains all the user-friendliness of the original R8, too. Visibility is great for a mid-engined car, and when your rearward view is limited while parking, you can lean on Audi’s excellent reversing camera and proximity sensors. User-configurable drive modes became vogue about a decade ago, when Sport buttons began to appear on many performance cars, but Audi has taken this to the extreme in the R8.
Steering, exhaust, suspension and transmission can be individually set in Comfort, Dynamic or Auto (which adjusts on the fly, depending on what the car thinks you’re doing).
This isn’t a gimmick, either. Putting those MagneRide dampers in Comfort, for instance, produces a noticeably softer ride. The same setting for steering allows for easy one-hand operation of the wheel. And in its relaxed mode, the dual-clutch tranny delivers butter-smooth gear changes while short-shifting to keep engine revs—and therefore NVH—to an absolute minimum. Pressing the checkered-flag button on the steering wheel turns everything up to maximum-attack mode, unleashing the terrifying beast.
It may have less room in the front luggage compartment (a penalty of the Quattro drivetrain) than the McLaren, but the Audi is easier and more pleasant to drive on a daily basis than any of its competitors. In fact, it only loses points for absolute practicality to the 911 Turbo. This car makes a compelling case for being the all-around, everyday supercar.
SPECS: AUDI R8 V10 PLUS
Price: P17,800,000 (est.)
Engine: 5.2-liter DOHC V10
Power: 610hp @ 8,250rpm
Torque: 560Nm @ 6,500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
UP NEXT: McLaren 570S