Warpspeed! Living with an Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus

Published: 16 March 2017

 CAR’s Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus long-term test review
 Fitted with optional Magnetic Ride dampers and laser lights
 Latest on entertainment, practicality, issues and economy

Month 4 with an Audi R8 V10 Plus: poky boot, perfect poise

The R8 continues to ace the everyday car brief, with the exception of one inconveniently sized chink in its armour: a shoebox-sized boot. While a 911, or even a McLaren or Ferrari 488, can pack a surprising amount of gear into their ‘frunks’, you’ll struggle to fit more than one (very) squashy bag in the R8. The price you pay for packaging an extra set of driveshafts, I suppose.

Arguably worth it for the Audi’s winter-beating traction, though. Out of slow corners the front tyres claw into the tarmac like a rock climber’s fingertips finding a handhold, and fill you with confidence on the sort of bumpy, slippery B-roads that would bring most other supercars out in a cold sweat.

At slower speeds it’s beginning to sound like a family of squirrels have moved into that boot. Sometimes it sounds like it might be the suspension bushes, sometimes maybe the intersection where the dashboard meets the windscreen, but something’s definitely getting squeaky when the going gets bumpy. I spoke to another journalist recently who’s logged plenty of miles in another new R8 and they reported similar squeaks over speed bumps. While you’d probably forgive that in a harder-core supercar, the Audi’s premium standpoint and otherwise luxurious cabin make it harder to overlook.

Squeaking it might be, but our R8’s now no longer beeping as the curious case of the panicking parking sensor (see Month 2) is closed: turns out the number plate had come partially unstuck, just far enough to catch the sensor’s beam.

Logbook: Audi R8 V10 Plus

Engine 5204cc 40v V10, 602bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive  
Stats 3.2sec 0-62mph, 205mph, 287g/km CO2  
Price £132,715  
As tested £149,645 
Miles this month 750
Total miles 3070
Our mpg 20.5
Official mpg 21.9
Fuel this month £147.36
Extra costs £0

By James Taylor


Month 3 with an Audi R8: it never feels under the weather

Whatever your mood, no matter how tricky the conditions, seems the Audi R8 has it nailed...

Spoiler standard on R8 Plus

Spoiler sport
Generously proportioned carbonfibre rear wing is fixed in place as standard on the V10 Plus version. I prefer the cleaner, unspoiled (pun intended) styling on the standard R8, but I’ve been glad of the extra downforce through the Foxhole during my (completely imaginary) laps of the Nürburgring.

Extra buttons for Plus model, including 'Performance' mode

A split-personality kinda car
Rocket-booster buttons sprouting from the wheel include Drive Select modes for suspension, throttle, steering and gearbox, from Comfort to Dynamic. Flag switch shortcuts straight to Performance, which also relaxes the stability control. In Comfort it feels like driving an A4; in Performance 
a GT3 car. The contrast in character is extraordinary.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Looks great when it’s dirty
The Bart Simpson-spec ‘Vegas Yellow’ paintwork is growing on me. All the more so for a smudge of wintry muck; a supercar is somehow cooler if it looks like it gets used properly, don’t you think? And winter is the Audi R8’s forte: few cars, super- or otherwise, are as confidence-inspiring on slimy roads.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Speed bumps? No problem
Our previous Lamborghini Huracan longtermer needed an on-board lifting system to avoid skinning its nose, but with a 25mm loftier ground clearance the R8 does fine without. Those carbon-ceramic brakes, standard on the V10 Plus, provide eye-opening (and eye-popping) stopping power, but are annoyingly grabby when cold.

Logbook: Audi R8 V10 Plus

Engine 5204cc 40v V10, 602bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive  
Stats 3.2sec 0-62mph, 205mph, 287g/km CO2  
Price £132,715  
As tested £149,645 
Miles this month 1054
Total miles 2320
Our mpg 15.2
Official mpg 21.9
Fuel this month £308.13
Extra costs £0

By James Taylor


Audi R8 V10 engine

Month 2 with an Audi R8: initial impressions

One month in, running-in reins have been unshackled from our R8’s V10. Fast? Enough to make your neck and your face muscles hurt. Assuming you can actually find the space to use it.

The R8 does some of its most impressive work when you’re pootling, though. It’s as easy to drive as an A3, and similarly comfortable at a cruise. A couple of niggles so far: the dual-clutch gearbox is surprisingly jerky at low speeds in manual mode, and the front-left parking sensor keeps crying wolf. Bit unnerving when parking something 1.9m wide… 

Logbook: Audi R8 V10 Plus

Engine 5204cc 40v V10, 602bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive  
Stats 3.2sec 0-62mph, 205mph, 287g/km CO2  
Price £132,715  
As tested £149,645  
Miles this month 855  
Total miles 1266  
Our mpg 18.1  
Official mpg 21.9  
Fuel this month £269.37  
Extra costs £0

By James Taylor


2017 Audi R8 long-term test

Month 1 with an Audi R8: the introduction

 ‘Everyday supercar.’ A contradiction in terms, surely? Like diesel hot hatch or, ahem, our sister title Practical Classics. But if any car fits the supercar for every occasion brief, it’s the Audi R8; all-wheel drive for all weathers, windows you can see out of, and the plushest of cabins with seats an inviting crossbreed between racing buckets and overstuffed armchairs. It even has a decent turning circle. If the R8 truly can be an everyday supercar, we’ll soon know, for this one really is going to be driven every day.

Perhaps concerned about the imminent withdrawal symptoms I’ll suffer when my season running the Radical SR1 comes to an end, the editor has compassionately placed the R8 under my care for its time with us. But it’ll spend many of its days based here at CAR HQ, so keeping its keys to myself is an unlikely dream.

There’s no longer such thing as a V8-engined R8, the latest generation driven solely by the same wondrous naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 as the closely related Lamborghini Huracan, with either 533bhp as standard or 602bhp in ‘V10 Plus’ trim. Our R8 is the latter, £15k more than the standard model with carbon-ceramic brakes, fixed rear wing and a 40kg weight reduction to go with its extra 69bhp.

2017 Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus long-term test

Since the standard V10 Plus Sport suspension is better suited to smooth European tarmac than Blighty’s blemishes, we’ve added variable Magnetic Ride dampers (£1600) and swapped the uncompromising buckets usually fitted to Plus models for regular sports seats, with pneumatic bolsters (£475).

We have splashed out on the sport exhaust (£1800), the better to appreciate that V10 to full effect, a larger 73-litre fuel tank (£100), and the £650 Driver Assistance Pack (cruise control and reversing camera – both, stingily, not standard), along with £3k’s worth of laser headlights (complete with a moderately concerning radiation warning sticker inside the boot).

We’ve deliberately avoided the feedback-blunting variable-rate Dynamic Steering option, and I rather wish we hadn’t specced Vegas Yellow paint (although R8 orders suggest many customers disagree). Together with a few other garnishes, that adds up to £149,645 – still cheaper than a Huracan.

If the 10-year-old me knew I’d one day be able to drive a bright yellow V10 supercar nearly every day I’d probably have spontaneously combusted with excitement. Can the R8 live up to a lifetime’s anticipation? So far I’m undecided. When we ran a Lamborghini Huracan on the long-term fleet for six glorious months last year I fell completely under its spell, yet on first impressions I’m struggling to feel quite so passionate about the R8. Which is silly, because they’re essentially the same car, and if anything the R8’s set-up gives it more involving handling.

Audi R8 instrument panel

But I’m not convinced by the styling – there’s something oddly unbalanced about the thickening shoulder line dividing the side intakes, and I can’t get the notion out of my head that it looks like a supercar on its way to a fancy dress party wearing an Audi TT costume. More fundamental than that though, there’s something a little aloof about its character; it feels almost too polished, somehow, not raw enough to be truly exciting. Does that mean I’m shallow and easily swayed by looks and charisma? Probably.

It’s early days, though. The R8’s arrived with only 112 miles on the clock, so self-imposed running-in reins are bridled to the V10, and the lengthiest journeys I’ve been able to take on so far have been traffic-jam-riddled motorway slogs. More thorough driving observations another time, then, but the R8 is clearly a multi-stringed bow.

Its ride comfort would shame many saloon cars (although it has an oddly springy gait at times in Comfort mode, like the subtly bouncy feel of a trampoline beneath your feet), for starters, and the seats likewise. There’s no trace of the symptoms of a condition every Monte Carlo-based chiropractor must be familiar with called ‘Lamborghini back.’ The V10 sounds serene on the move, although the theatrical, window-rattling burst of revs that accompanies every early morning cold start isn’t always appreciated by my housemates.

So, to recap the hypothesis: an R8 V10 can function as day-to-day transport. But if so, can it still thrill enough to be considered a supercar in its truest sense? We’ve got the next few months to valiantly endeavour to prove and/or disprove both points. It’s going to be fun finding out.

2017 Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus long-term test

How we specified our Audi R8

  • Magnetic Ride dampers (£1600) Standard V10 Plus Sport suspension a little abrupt; continuously adapting adaptive dampers smooth things over 
  • Gloss carbon engine bay trim (£2950) Extravagant, yes, but one of the last great naturally aspirated engines needs showing off properly
  • Sound and Comfort Pack (£3450) Extra leather for seats, doors and dash, pneumatic bolsters and a 550W B&O hi-fi to outshout the V10
  • LED headlights with Laser Light (£3000)  Laser diodes bring more daylight on high beam. A supercar with lasers – nothing cooler, surely?

Logbook: Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus

Engine 5204cc 40v V10, 602bhp @ 8250rpm, 413lb ft @ 6500rpm
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive 
Stats 3.2sec 0-62mph, 205mph, 287g/km CO2 
Price £132,715 
As tested £149,645 
Miles this month 551 
Total miles 662 
Our mpg 26.7 
Official mpg 21.9 
Fuel this month £116.25 
Extra costs £0

By James Taylor

Read more Audi R8 reviews

By James Taylor

CAR's new online editor, fast-lapper, newshound, champ

  • Our R8, and all the things it can't fit in its boot
  • The R8's boot isn't the biggest, or most helpfully shaped. Blame all-wheel-drive packaging
  • Fixed carbonfibre wing is standard on the V10 Plus
  • Drive Select mode switch can dramatically alter the R8's character
  • 'Vegas Yellow' paintwork looks ace when it's dirty
  • Carbon-ceramic brakes incredibly powerful, but annoyingly grabby on the road
  • R8 gets 'Virtual Cockpit' digital dash first seen in TT