AUDI'S SUPERCAR: The second-generation R8 builds on its predecessor to create one of the best supercars on the market. Image: Wheels24
Wheels24 correspondent Egmont Sippel names his top 10 cars of 2016. Below is his review of the Audi R8.
Cape Town - First things first: this car looks good in pictures - but it is sensational in the metal.
And not only visually.
That much becomes obvious when you push the red starter button, cleverly located on the steering wheel, to swing the mighty 449kW naturally aspirated V10 into life with a healthy roar, devoid of turbo sound asphyxiation, after which the dry sump 5.2-litre (with an amazing compression ratio of 12.7:1) spins from idle to a 8500rpm red line in just 0.66 seconds.
Traction and speed
That’s 20% quicker than its predecessor, says Audi, which all helps to sling the V10 Plus - with traction via all four wheels - from standstill to 100km/h in less than three seconds.
I didn’t put that figure to the test. But on an empty back road I ripped through 300km/h in a flash; the Plus tops out at 323km/h.
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Acceleration and speed is clearly not an issue here. Nor is ride quality and stability. The new R8 is slightly shorter, wider and lower than the first one, the inherent advantages of a wider track complimented by tiny impulses of counter steer on the curve limit, to enhance cornering stability.
The driver is never aware of this, but what struck me was a fairly relaxed steering ratio. Fixed at 13:1 in performance programmes (the Lamborghini Gallardo used to carry 12:1), the ratio necessitates a good turn of the wheel through sharper corners, even at speed. In other drive programmes, where handling predictability is not such an issue, the ratio varies (with less success in terms of feedback and confidence) between a direct 10:1 and a really soft 17:1.
By supercar standards, cornering grip is not particularly mind-bending either, which ultimately reinforces the notion of a more relaxed and civilized character, compared to the brutal and razor sharp demeanour of the R8’s sister car, the Lamborghini Huracán.
Check out ride quality, as a further example. Whereas the Huracán is reasonably comfortable in its Strada setting, the R8 is truly soft in Comfort mode. That now, on the V10 Plus’s optional magnetorheological - or Magnetic Ride - dampers.
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The R8 also swallows a set of golf clubs, in furtherance of its quest to be established as a slightly cheaper and far more user-friendly supercar. Try that in a Lambo and Tiger Woods will be your chauffeur - though Tiger will be far better pleased if you offer the R8’s cabin as a daily office. It’s a really well-designed and classy, airy place, rounded out by Audi’s impressive Virtual Cockpit interface as well as truly beautiful - and comfortable - seats.
Make no mistake, though: when the heat is on, the V10 Plus performs. It is devastatingly fast over any stretch of tarmac, the alacrity helped along by blindingly quick dual-clutch shifts plus very effective stoppers in the shape of standard carbon-ceramic discs.
Peak torque of 560Nm twisting through all four wheels is also not shy to rocket 1.565 tons of exotica past 100km/h in less than 3 seconds, which is astounding.
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And all of this with so little effort, as if you’re not really trying.
That, in the end, is the ultimate strength of the beautifully crafted and superbly engineered Audi R8 V10 Plus. It is a super-competent supercar.