The second generation Audi R8 has become fiercer and more focused in this improved form, with V10 petrol engines providing near supercar levels of performance. Buyers choose between a 570PS V10 and a 620PS V10 performance version, both capable of topping 200mph. It's smarter, better finished and better looking than the original design. You can have an open-topped Spyder version. And of course there's quattro 4WD. Beat that.
The big news with this second generation R8 is that there's more power. The standard V10 engine gets a 30PS increase to 570PS, while the previous 'V10 plus' version (now re-branded the 'V10 performance' model) gets a 10PS increase to 620PS. As for oither changes, well modifications to the suspension provide more stability and precision. Plus the assistance has been retuned both with the optional dynamic steering and the electromechanical power steering. In addition, Audi Sport has made the distinction between the profiles available as part of the Audi drive select dynamic handling system - comfort, auto, dynamic and individual - clearer. Thanks to the enhanced Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC), the Audi R8 V10 performance brakes from 62mph to a standstill up to 1.5 metres earlier; the stopping distance from 124mph is up to five metres shorter - in each case depending on the exterior conditions. The range is now built purely around quattro 4WD and as usual, only an S tronic twin-clutch sequential auto paddleshift 'box is offered.
Otherwise, it's much as before. The R8 V10 performance model is the most powerful Audi road car ever built. That's serious stuff and so is a sprint to 62mph in around 3 seconds and a top speed of well over 200mph. The suspension is the same basic layout of double wishbones front and rear, mated to steel springs and dampers or there's an optional Magnetic Ride system that delivers continuously variable damping control. Where possible, weight has been excised from the suspension parts, Audi claiming that it has used lighter components developed through its LMP and LMS racing programme.
The visual changes made to this improved model are extremely subtle. The Singleframe radiator grille has a wider, flatter line. Thick bars divide up the large air inlets, and flat slits in the hood are reminiscent of the Audi Ur-quattro brand icon. The smarter front splitter is now wider, underscoring the focused look. The air vent grille runs across the full width; the diffuser has been drawn upward, making the R8 seem even wider. In the engine compartment the air filter is situated under a new, three-part cover, which is available in a choice of plastic or carbon fibre. Otherwise, its as you were before. The customisab;e sideblades continue to be a talking point. 19-inch alloy wheels are fitted as standard to both models, but there's also an option of a 20-inch rim if you want it. If you like the idea of open-top motoring, there's also a Spyder version.
Inside the car, there's the usual Nappa leather sports seats while the V10 performance model gets deeper bucket seats. A flat-bottomed steering wheel houses two 'satellites' incorporating the control buttons for the Audi drive select system and engine start-stop function. Go for the V10 performance and there are two more satellites. One houses a button controlling the exhaust system's sound-altering adjustable flaps. The other deals with the activation switch for the 'performance mode' which is standard for this version (and optional for the standard V10), along with a rotary wheel enabling selection of this mode's individual 'dry', 'wet' and 'snow' programs.
The 'Audi virtual cockpit' digital instrument binnacle continues here. It sits in the conventional speedo and tach binnacle, this 12.3-inch display allowing the driver to toggle between different display modes as well as a custom 'individual' mode. In 'performance mode', the driver is presented with information on the driving programs, acceleration, deceleration and lateral forces, as well as power and torque. There's even a shift light which illuminates when the rev limit has been reached.Click here to find out more about our Audi R8 range