We don't often start stories with a quote, but on this occasion we will.
“The new 2016 Audi R8 V10 Plus is the most powerful and fastest production Audi ever,” says the Ingolstadt marque's board member for technical development Ulrich Hackenberg.
“With the new Audi R8, our engineers are transferring their bundled racing expertise from the race track to the road. No other Audi evokes such dynamic passion, and none is so closely related to a race car."
The second-generation of Audi's 'everyday supercar' arrives in Australia in the middle of 2016. While Audi Australia hasn’t locked down exact specifications for local R8s, we can take a look at the two models available in Europe for a guide to what we might see when it lands.
Australian pricing likewise hasn’t been cemented yet either. It’s fair to say at this point though, that outside exclusive customisation, there won’t be an extensive options list.
The 2016 Audi R8 is available in two specification levels, the R8 V10 and R8 V10 Plus, both powered by a 5.2-litre V10 engine in slightly different states of tune. Despite displacing 5.2 litres, the engine is capable of revving to 8700rpm and it features racecar-like dry sump lubrication, which assists engineers to lower the engine further down into the chassis for better weight distribution.
The ‘entry’ R8 model gets 396kW of power and 540Nm of torque, while the range topper generates a whopping 449kW and 560Nm. Peak torque is achieved for both engines at 6500rpm.
The new R8 is also up to 13.0 per cent more efficient than the outgoing model thanks to a raft of clever technology. The V10 model uses 11.4 litres per 100km, down from the old model’s 13.1L/100km, while the V10 Plus uses 12.3L/100km, down from the outgoing model’s 12.9L/100km.
Part of that clever tech is cylinder-on-demand, which is standard along with a dual-injection fuel system. The dual-injection system injects the fuel into the combustion chambers and induction manifold according to demand. In layman’s terms, it means the R8 engine features multi-point, as well as direct, injection.
Additionally, when the driver takes their foot off the accelerator at speeds over 55km/h, the new R8 reverts to ‘coasting mode’, and the R8 also has stop/start. We experienced the coasting function on the freeway on a long downhill section and it’s barely noticeable unless you’re looking out for it.
The R8 V10 accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 320km/h, while the V10 Plus rockets from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 330km/h. Perhaps even more impressive is the 0-200km/h time of 9.9 seconds, matching that of the related Lamborghini Huracan. On the racetrack, the acceleration up to 200km/h is immense.
Power is transferred to a tweaked version of the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox (there’s no longer a conventional manual available) that executes lightening-fast shifts thanks to electronically controlled shift-by-wire. The transmission is matched to a newly designed quattro AWD system with an electro-hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch at the front axle. It also has active water cooling to ensure the system can operate at an optimal level no matter how hard it’s being worked.
Management of the clutch is integrated in the Audi drive select dynamic driving system, and drivers can choose between the basic modes of ‘comfort’, ‘auto’, ‘dynamic’ or ‘individual’. The top-spec version goes a step further with three additional modes within the ‘performance’ mode, those being dry, wet and snow. That system is optional on the V10. A mechanical diff lock at the rear axle is standard for both models.
The handling package is headed up by aluminium double-wishbone suspension systems with electronically controlled shock absorbers (Audi Magnetic Ride) available as an option on both models. The electromechanical power steering system has been tuned to give drivers plenty of feedback, but there’s also dynamic steering available as an option, which adapts its steering gear ratio to the vehicle’s driving speed.
For Europe, 19-inch wheels are standard for both models, with 20-inch wheels available as an option. The V10 Plus gets carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, optional on the V10. Thanks to the aluminium spaceframe design and the use of carbonfibre, the V10 Plus has a dry weight of just 1454kg despite delivering a 40.0 percent improvement in torsional rigidity.
One of the only complaints related to the outgoing R8 was that small details didn’t match the special nature of the car thanks to the Audi parts bin execution. This was especially the case behind the wheel. The paddleshifters for example were the same as those on much cheaper, less exotic Audis within the stable. The brand has listened and the result is an R8 that has a noticeably more bespoke look and feel inside the cabin.
The R8 Sport leather steering wheel gets multi function plus and integrates two satellite buttons for starting and stopping the engine and for Audi Drive Select. The R8 Performance leather steering wheel with four control satellites offers an additional push-button with a turn wheel for the performance mode select and another for controlling the exhaust system.
Storage hasn’t been overlooked and that factor is a key feature in ensuring the R8 is such a usable daily driver for buyers with deep enough pockets. Behind the seats, there’s 226 litres of cargo storage, to add to the slightly expanded 112 litres of storage up front over the outgoing model. You won’t fit huge suitcases in the R8, but there’s more than enough room for a couple on a weekend away.
The R8 continues Audi’s move to a Virtual Cockpit, a feature that feels right at home in a vehicle at this end of the sportscar spectrum and is focused squarely on the driver. It’s also part of the reason the new R8 has such a bespoke feeling behind the wheel. The clever system means centre stack design is clean and devoid of copious switchgear, with only the beautifully designed HVAC controls and some infotainment shortcuts in the centre console area.
The TFT monitor ahead of the driver features a 12.3-inch screen and has high resolution graphics so everything is more legible. Three different drive screens tailor the display to suit your mood, from full screen satellite-navigation, to a more race-inspired display with centrally mounted tacho, and you can also individually configure the displays around conventional larger speedo and tacho dials if you prefer.
Part of the R8’s standard portfolio is MMI navigation plus with MMI touch. Like a smartphone, the operating logic is structured in flat hierarchies, including a text search function. Vehicle functions can be controlled from the steering wheel. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is also standard for both models, but with the exhaust button set at ‘Sport’ you won’t need to worry too much about the radio.
One intriguing interior option is the race seat design. It features mechanical fore-and-aft movement, limited electric up and down movement and lightweight fixed backs that are sculpted a little more than the fully electric seats fitted to the other tests vehicles. There’s no reason that option couldn’t be specified for Australian buyers on special order even if Audi doesn’t make it a broader option.
Audi Australia won’t release pricing or final specification for the new R8 models until closer to their local release in quarter two of 2016 but Audi Australia spokesman Shaun Cleary did give us a hint as to what we can expect.
“Pricing and specification hasn't been confirmed as yet,” he said. “In other markets, the R8 is slightly more expensive than the outgoing model, around 9000 Euro more in Germany. We’d like to better that for Australia though. We think we can make the pricing sharper.”
In other words, the new R8 V10 Plus looks like being cheaper than the outgoing model. With the base model now a V10 rather than a V8, that pricing won’t be comparable, but expect the R8 V10 Plus to be cheaper than the model it replaces (the outgoing V10 Plus was $407,810). That means it will be priced significantly below the $428,000 Lamborghini Huracan.
Read about five interesting Audi R8 facts here.
Read our 2016 Audi R8 review from the global launch here.