Something not just for the weekend, Sir, or madam…

In Audi, Car Reviews by Tom Scanlan

What will the neighbours think?” This brightest yellow Audi R8 V10 plus has just been delivered outside my house. “Has he won the Postcode Lottery?”

Tom Scanlan reviews the Audi R8 V10 Plus Quattro.
Well, I would have had to have won one of the lotteries, big time, to have opened my wallet to the extent of in excess of £144,000.

The ‘Vegas’ yellow peril in question, and a very handsome one, was Audi’s brilliant R8 V10 Plus. The Plus version is distinguishable by its Gloss Carbon side blades and rear spoiler.

Petrol heads all know that the current R8 only comes with the V10 engine, the original V8 no longer available. Some scribes are a bit sad about this and I can sympathise. But this V10 Plus…well, wow! I try not to say ‘wow’ too often, but this one is a genuine, drop-jawed, big-time WOW!

However, it’s not all good…although that’s not Audi’s fault. Ultimately, this car, like all cars with such phenomenal performance, will ultimately end up being frustrating. With such power, all 610 PS of it, it’s almost inevitable that you spend a good deal of your time behind the wheel stuck in traffic. There’s just not quite enough road to get safely ahead, even if in this R8 it only takes a prod of the pedal to leap past in a howl and a flash. Over seven days and 335 miles, I was only on a few very brief occasions able to use the extraordinary full potential. And the top speed is almost three times the UK legal maximum.

So, what’s it like when it has to be just another car in the queue?
Well, it’s dead easy to drive slowly and about the only difference between it and any other ‘ordinary’ fellow road-user is that you do occasionally feel the transmission take up as it goes from first to second in the auto 7-speed ‘box. Otherwise, the up gear-changes are imperceptible, while the down-changes are, too, except when from high revs, in which case you get a nice popping out of the exhaust.
But if you want real sound effects, select ‘Dynamic’ on the button on the steering wheel (or hit the chequered flag button next door) and floor that pedal! My gosh, does this thing GO!

If you’re lucky, you just get time to flick your eye down to the rev-counter and flick the paddle as you hit the red line at 8,500 revs. Whether or not you’ve already reached 62 mph in 3.2 seconds is a moot point. How do you time such scorching acceleration? (And, by the way, on the track, but not, I suggest, on the road, you’ve got Launch Control to get maximum warp speed.)

The howling exhaust may not be sensible in certain places and at certain times, but pick your stretch of road carefully and get your money’s worth is what I say. Plus, there’s the gunfire out of the exhaust pipes on the over-run…and I thought I had grown out of that sort of thing! The test car, in fact, had the £1800 optional sport exhaust system, a toy maybe, but a must-have toy…

From a cold start, the virtual tachometer red-lines at 6,500 rpm – the maximum torque point – until it’s warmed up. After a couple of miles you see the tacho re-set itself to limit at an impressive 8,500 revs.

Of course, anyone can make a car go fast in a straight line. The Audi electro-mechanical steering works beautifully and it’s hugely entertaining if you can find the right bit of quiet twisty road to explore just what you’ve got in your hands — precision, tautness, sharpness, the seats holding you upright, not that there’s any leaning over, with double wishbones front and rear. And the brakes: six-piston calliper fronts and four-piston rear, with carbon-fibre-reinforced ceramic discs, ventilated, perforated, floating – fabulous, a muscle-popping g-force in themselves.
The R8 can be used as a day-to-day runabout provided your demands are not too great.

As a load carrier for your weekly shop, there is a small boot at the front and shelf behind the two seats. It is quite wide for your average car park space, but, given the rear-view camera, it isn’t too difficult to park. It’s at its least likeable if you have local roads like mine that have been dug up too many times, not forgetting speed humps and general pot-holing. It doesn’t take a lot of that sort of thing to make the ride become tiresome; of course, on decent surfaces, the car rides perfectly well, although in ‘Comfort’ mode, you still feel every little imperfection; some people like this; personally, I don’t.

Petrol consumption? Does it matter if you have £144,000 to spend on a single car? Anyway, According to the trip recorder, I got an overall indicated 22.3 mpg, having driven the car mainly in a restrained fashion as dictated by the traffic conditions during the week.

I was surprised to find that, at 70 mph, the 5.2-litre engine was revving at 2,900 rpm. But Audi’s COD (cylinder on demand) system is now operating, although you don’t feel it, so one bank of five cylinders receives no fuel at this time.

On motorways and dual carriageways, if you are using the Comfort setting, the R8 goes into coasting mode if you take your foot off the accelerator with the revs dropping to around a thousand until you put your foot on again, at which point there is a noticeable pick-up that at first feels unusual.

The interior is beautifully finished and classically-designed. Not classical in the sense of old-fashioned, but with an appeal that will never diminish. There is now Audi’s virtual instrument display, which is simple to use and not over-embellished; similarly, at night, Audi has stuck to classical white on black lighting that is easy-to-read at a glance.

This is a great car.

Car reviewed: Audi R8 V10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro S tronic (610 PS) – from £134,520 on the road 0-62mph 3.2 secs Top speed 205mph Combined Fuel Economy 23mpg CO2 emissions 287g/km Engine 5204cc, V10 petrol engine DOHC Max Power 610PS@8250rpm Torque 560Nm@6500rpm Transmission Quattro All-wheel drive, 7-speed S tronic

  • Outright Performance

  • Build and Finish

  • Virtual Cockpit

  • UK roads too busy

About the author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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