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New Audi R8 V10: a little more power, a lot more attitude

It also answers the question of ‘how much grille can you fit on one supercar?’

The Audi R8 is the subtle supercar no longer. To tempt you away from the likes of the McLaren 570S and Mercedes-AMG GT R, this new, facelifted gen-2 Audi R8 has so much front and rear grille going on, it’s a wonder there was any space left to put the headlights. Angry, innit?

It’s not just the extra intakes and fins up front, either. The R8’s rear diffuser has invaded higher into the rear bumper, wrapping itself around much bigger oval tailpipes than the old oblong tunnels. The engine bay vent now stretches across the entire rear of the car. And it rides on spindlier 20-inch alloys, if you’d like them. Perhaps some Lamborghini DNA is seeping back across the German-Italian border…

Giving the latest R8 the go-faster trousers to match its gurning gob is a useful power hike. It’s still – mercifully -powered by a normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10, but power in the standard car has climbed from 533bhp to 562bhp – the same output as a McLaren 570S, albeit with less torque (only up 7.4lb ft) and a way better noise. The coupe hits 62mph in 3.4sec, the heavier Spyder a tenth slower. And these are official Audi figures don’t forget, so you can expect the R8 to make the dash a tad quicker in real life…

The new R8 V10 Performance is quicker still. Yes, that’s ‘Performance’, not ‘Plus’ – the flagship R8, still identifiable by its fixed carbon fibre wing, has a new name to go with its new teeth.

The range-topper’s been tickled up from 602bhp to 612bhp, and gained 16lb ft of torque, thanks to titanium valvetrain components. The hard-top hits 62mph in 3.1sec, and again you’re a tenth slower with the roofless version. They’ll top out at 205mph and 204mph respectively, but even the ‘non-Performance’ standard R8s will top 200mph these days.

Audi says it’s retuned the optional ‘dynamic’ steering which varies the amount of lock you need as the speed increases – hopefully to make it less horrible. The standard electric power steering’s been breathed on too. Good news. Audi’s also fiddled with the Drive Select modes, so you’ll notice more of a mood swing between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes, not to mention the R8 Performance’s dry, wet and snow settings.

Apparently, tweaks to the ESC safety net have also shortened stopping distances – you’ll pull up from 124mph five metres earlier than in the old R8. Best make sure those designer sunglasses are a good fit.

If you’d like to get even nerdier with your R8’s handling, there’s now an optional lightweight front anti-roll bar, fashioned from carbon fibre and aluminium. However, unless Audi has installed an ARB-viewing window in the front boot, we’d imagine most byers will save their money for the new paint finishes and Alcantara trim inside.

The new R8 family usurps the old, more subtle-looking version in early 2019, and tees up a similarly fine-tuned new Lambo Huracán soon too. There’ll still be no cheaper way into a naturally aspirated supercar than an R8 though, and the most grille for your money this side of a barbecue convention.

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