First Drive: Audi R8 V10 Plus

2013-06-27 06:03:02

First Drive: Audi R8 V10 Plus

The Audi R8 in its latest avatar looks sharper, is quick and loud, handles well and comes with an excellent new gearbox. It’s got all the elements you look for in a no-nonsense, everyday supercar that’s extremely civilised both on and off the track. But Audi wasn’t content with just that, so it has raised the bar further with the launch of a more powerful and lightweight version of the R8, the V10 Plus.

The Plus variant you see here may not stand out from the ‘regular’ V10, at first. But a closer inspection reveals all the carbon fibre parts used inside out. Power comes via the Lamborghini-sourced 5.2-litre V10 FSI motor, which now revs all the way up to 8700rpm and churns out max power of 542bhp and 540Nm of torque – that’s 24bhp and 10Nm more than the older V10 variant. And to unleash those horses, we had the entire Buddh International Circuit to ourselves – a perfect setting since this particular Audi is more than a fast, everyday supercar that’s also good on the track. Instead, it’s the other way round, as we found out.

The new breed of R8 comes with an all-new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and this has drastically changed the way this Audi behaves. The new S-tronic gearbox is a gem and it complements the V10 motor exceptionally well. For the greater part of the drive, I let the ’box do its own thing, while I focussed on keeping my hands glued to the steering wheel. Just slot it Auto mode, press the Sports button and that takes care of most of your sane fantasies.

Out on the track, the Plus kicked off impressively – there was none of that hooliganism that comes with supercars possessing more than 500bhp – instead, it builds up speed in a crazy manner and it’ll hit a ton 0.1 second faster than the V10 variant will, taking a claimed 3.5 seconds. As far as driving dynamics go, the Plus goes about its job remarkably well and a lot of it can be credited to Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system.

Audi isn’t offering the Plus with different suspension modes, but what it does come with is a predefined sports setup that is set on the stiffer side. This doesn’t matter much on the smooth BIC tarmac and when you’re cornering at high speed, the sports setup, combined with a well thought out steering wheel, makes the V10 Plus one of the most easygoing supercars on the roads today. And speaking of the steering wheel, although it feels a tad lighter, it weighs up perfectly as speeds rise. It offers good feedback, which is surprising for an Audi, and even when driven aggressively, it doesn’t make you work hard behind the wheel.

A perfect supercar is not just about how quickly it gets to the ton. It’s also about how quickly it can shed all that speed. And helping matters here are the lightweight and extremely efficient ceramic brakes that bring the car to a standstill with minimal drama.

With a better power-to-weight ratio than the older V10, the Plus takes the fun quotient to the next level. It’s quicker off the block, the new S-tronic ’box is always on its toes, and it’s a great handler. We’ll reserve our view on the Plus’s performance on our streets until we do our own tests, but for a car that’s this quick, agile and composed, it clearly deserves more than what our roads offer.

The numbers
V10, 5204cc petrol, 542bhp, 540Nm, 7-speed S-tronic, 0-100 in 3.5sec (claimed), 317kph (claimed), 12.9kpl (claimed), Rs 2.05 crore (ex-showroom, Maharashtra)

The verdict
More horses, excellent handling, intelligent gearbox and superb braking – this is one of the best mid-engined supercars for under Rs 2.5 crore. Plus, Audi’s claiming 12.9kpl.

TAGS // audi, r8

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