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Driven: Audi R8 V10 Plus
Driven April 2013
Earlier this year, Audi had launched reworked versions of its R8 supercar, which we all love – especially in the V10 guise. It looks sharper, is quick and loud, handles well and comes with an excellent new gearbox. It has all the qualities to fit the bill of a no-nonsense everyday supercar that’s extremely civilised both on and off the track. And just when you start thinking that’s the one you want to gift yourself, Audi raises the bar further with the launch of a more powerful and a light-weight version of the R8, the V10 Plus.
The Plus variant you see here looks similar to the ‘regular’ V10, but now gets carbon fibre parts all around. The weight-saving exercise sees the front spoiler, exterior mirror casings, the trademark side blades, engine cover and the rear diffuser being carved out of carbon fibre. And on the inside, if the new sporty seats don’t make their intentions clear, all the carbon fibre used surely will. The Plus is 50kg lighter than the V10 Coupe and this results in a superior power to weight ratio.
The Plus is powered by 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 V10 variant. And to unleash all the rearing horses, we had the entire Buddh International Circuit to ourselves. It made for a perfect setting as this particular Audi is more than a fast, everyday supercar that’s good on the tracks. Instead, it’s the other way round as we found out.
The new breed of R8 comes with all-new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and this has drastically changed the way this Audi supercar behaves. Out on the track, the Plus kicks off in an impressive manner – there isn’t all that hooliganism that comes with supercars with excess of 500bhp. It builds up speeds in a crazy manner and it would hit a ton faster than you would imagine it could. The company claims, the Plus is a 0.1sec faster to 0-100kph with a 3.5sec time when compared to the regular V10. The Plus goes about doing its job remarkably well and a lot of it can be credited to the Audi’s Quattro system. While exiting a fast corner, the R8 is more than happy to get its tail out, but the Quattro acts like a stern Math professor and quickly gets things under control.
The new S-tronic gearbox is a gem and complements the V10 motor exceptionally well. For most part of our drive, I let the ’box do its own bits with my hands glued to the steering wheel. Just slot the ’box in auto mode, press the Sports button on the centre console and it takes care of most of your sane fantasies. The gearbox, kind of read my mind every time I approached a corner. There aren’t any external sensors or smart cameras that can sense what’s coming up ahead. But just as I would lift off the throttle pedal and start braking for a corner, the lightning quick gearbox would have already downshift gears and all I had to do was to kiss the apex and mash the throttle while coming out of it. You don’t even feel the urge to use the paddle shifters or slot the lever in manual – the auto mode works well for most of the time.
A majority of us expect performance oriented supercars to come with different suspension modes, but what the Plus offers is a predefined sports setup. After driving the V10 and V10 Plus back-to-back (which we did at the BIC), it surely feels tightly sprung, but then, the stiffer suspension exists for a purpose. When you are cornering at higher speeds, the Plus does a brilliant job at that. The sports setup combined with a well sought out steering wheel makes the V10 Plus one of the most easy going supercars today. Talking of the steering wheel, it feels a tad bit lighter, but weighs up perfectly with increase in speed and it actually offers good amount of feedback, which is surprising for an Audi. It allows you to take corners faster than you generally would and the steering responds well, all throughout. Even when driven aggressively, it doesn’t make you work harder behind the wheel, and you wouldn’t mind driving the Plus around a track all day long.
In addition, when you hit that Sports button, the already loud exhaust note turns even louder and that’s enough for your pet dog to know you have reached the adjoining lane. Audi offers the Plus variant with a Bang & Olufsen music system as standard, but I don’t see the point, I would rather listen to musical created by the V10 rather than a set of expensive speakers.
A perfect super car is not only about how quickly it hits the ton. It’s also about how quickly it can shed all that speed. And helping matters here are the light-weight, but extremely efficient ceramic brakes that brings the car to a standstill without creating much drama.
With all the extra power, less weight and new technologies, the V10 Plus takes the fun quotient to the next level. It’s quicker off the block, the new S-tronic ’box is always on its toe, it’s a great handler and for a change, this in one Audi steering wheel that offers all the feedback you need. We shall reserve our views on the Plus’ performance on our streets, and only a real-world test would paint a clear picture. But for a car that’s so quick, agile and composed, it deserves more than what our infrastructure offers. Priced at Rs 2.05 crore (ex-showroom, Maharashtra), the Audi R8 V10 Plus is a proper race-track car that works brilliantly as your daily supercar commute as well.
V10, 5204cc petrol, 542bhp, 540Nm, 7-speed S-tronic, 0-100 in 3.5sec*, 317kph*, 12.9kpl*
The Audi R8 V10 Plus, with more horses, excellent handling and superb braking power, is one of the best mid-engined supercars you could buy for sub-Rs 2.5 crore budget. In addition, the quick but efficient new dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox claims a combined fuel efficiency of 12.9kpl, making it a perfect daily supercar.