2020’s been a crappy yr, however even amid the home political turmoil and international pandemic-related disruption to regular life, there have been the occasional vivid spots. Like the lengthy weekend I spent with a $195,900 Audi R8 V10 efficiency Coupe quattro. Any day I get to drive one thing mid-engined is an effective day, in spite of everything. Particularly when it is with the type of automotive which may not be with us that for much longer.
Our first style of the second-generation Audi supercar was again in 2017. Mechanically, the R8 V10 efficiency Coupe quattro is very like we discovered the R8 V10 plus again then. Its centerpiece is that naturally aspirated 5.2L V10, shared (as with a lot else below the pores and skin) with the Lamborghini Huracán. (Audi purchased Lamborghini again in 1998.) Hand-built in Hungary, the V10 generates 602hp (449kW) at a heady 8,100rpm, with a peak torque determine of 413lb-ft (560Nm) arriving at 6,700rpm. That will get despatched to all 4 wheels by way of a seven-speed twin clutch transmission, and within the case of the rear axle, by way of clutch-based torque-vectoring that takes the place of a conventional differential.
Externally, the R8 has had a slight facelift. There are a couple of extra vents that enable cooling air to enter the automotive and some extra that assist it on its approach out the again, however the tweaks are refined.
Perhaps the largest purposeful improve from an proprietor’s perspective has been the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the infotainment system. Unlike the Huracán, the R8 would not have a separate infotainment display screen, simply the 12.3-inch digital cockpit show in entrance of the driving force. So it is right here that we discover the smartphone-casting interface, which makes utilizing your cellphone’s navigation a complete lot extra user-friendly than in most vehicles, the place you need to look over to the middle stack to get your instructions. (Note that this isn’t a touchscreen; you navigate the infotainment both with the multifunction steering wheel or the jog dial within the middle console.)
The different notable tech improve is the addition of laser high-beam headlights. Developed first for Audi’s all-conquering Le Mans prototypes, the corporate needed to wait a number of years earlier than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would enable them to be fitted to a US-market automobile. The beams would possibly nonetheless solely throw their gentle about half so far as European regulators enable, but it surely’s a big enchancment in comparison with conventional excessive beams, notably in case your night time imaginative and prescient is compromised by one thing like astigmatism.
In truth, I made good use of the laser lights. Something in regards to the pandemic has had a jet lag-like impact on my sleep cycles, waking me recurrently effectively earlier than daybreak. Some may need discovered this annoying, however visitors is the pure enemy of the supercar, and the roads are at their emptiest earlier than daybreak, so I have not minded an excessive amount of—a minimum of when there was a enjoyable driver’s automotive parked outdoors.
And the R8 is a enjoyable driver’s automotive. As with most mid-engined equipment, from the driving force’s seat, it offers you a sensation of being mounted on the pointy finish, the place you are being pushed alongside by the mass and energy of that engine behind you.
It’s a extra civilized expertise than driving a Lamborghini Huracán. In consolation, with the transmission shifting for itself, it is a straightforward automotive to drive slowly, even. But it feels a bit too particular to press into service as an on a regular basis commuter automotive or grocery getter, and like most 600hp vehicles, you will be fortunate to achieve a double-digit MPG when driving it on the town. (The EPA charges the R8 at 16mpg (14.7l/100km) mixed.)
It additionally sounds much less raucous than the Huracán, though to those ears, the naturally aspirated V10 nonetheless sounds orders of magnitude higher than any of the R8’s turbocharged rivals. It’s not fairly F1-level—the redline is at 8,700rpm, not 19,000rpm—but it surely’s an exquisite howl nonetheless. (Sorry not sorry if I woke you up throughout one in all my predawn drives.)
While the R8 would not really feel fairly as on its toes because the Lamborghini (notably the Huracán Evo mannequin), that does not imply it feels inert or sluggish. In Dynamic mode, zero to 60mph takes 3.2 seconds, as quick as a McLaren F1 however extra user-friendly due to the paddle shifters and all-wheel drive. You can break traction and wiggle its hips should you provoke it with an excessive amount of throttle throughout cornering. But it is predictable and simple to catch, one thing you’ll be able to name up on demand fairly than a malign dealing with trait that retains you always on guard.
In 2017, I declared that the R8 was our decide of the junior supercars (suppose 600hp and ~$200,000). Nothing about my time with the facelifted R8 makes me suppose that was mistaken—it has good practicality for a mid-engined supercar, and like its Italian cousin, it sounds higher than the competitors, a consequence of naturally aspirating its engine.
However, there is a motive that almost each different producer has gone to compelled induction for his or her exotica. It’s a lot simpler to satisfy fashionable emissions laws with a turbocharger, and they also actually will not make them like this for much longer.
Listing picture by Jonathan Gitlin