2013 Audi R8 V10 & V8 review

We drive the V10 on track and cruise the V8 on the roads of the UAE

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 Audi R8 V8

It’s a little hard to believe that the Audi R8 has been with us six years already. It’s still looks a fresh, clean and modern design, and remains the default choice when it comes to mid-engined supercars that you can comfortably use every day.

Of course Ingolstadt hasn’t been resting on its laurels and the R8, in all its guises (coupe, spyder, V8 and V10, was given a major refresh for this year. It’s taken a while, but we finally got to try the updated cars, both on the track at the Dubai Autodrome and on the roads of the UAE.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Grilles and bumpers were changed, LEDs were made standard and there were lots of tweaks to the trim and kit, but the biggest change was a 7-speed S tronic replacing the clunky old R-tronic that used to let the original R8 down so much – there is and has always been a manual option of course, but no one orders that in our market. The S tronic is of course a double-clutch system. Launch control is also now available.

The V8 and V10 engines were carried across pretty much unchanged, but now there’s a V10 Plus edition (only in Coupe form) which adds 25bhp bringing its total to 550bhp. This model also gets carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser, plus mirrors and side blades. It has standard bucket seats, ceramic brakes and tuned suspension – although not the clever magnetic ride setup of the regular V10. 50kg has also been shaved off the weight.

2013 Audi R8 V8

V10 Plus on track

We attended a session at the Dubai Autodrome in which we put the top-spec R8 V10 Plus through its paces in a series of exercises including braking and avoidance, slalom and laps of the full circuit. All of this proved, and in fact confirmed, that the perfect mid-engined balance, all-wheel drive grip and the electronic stability systems, make this one of the easiest cars to drive hard, currently on sale.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Its poise and sure-footedness under braking is exemplary, the stopping itself shockingly efficient. The firmer ride wasn’t an issue but then we were driving on a smooth track. What it did mean was a flatter body enabling sharper direction changes and very planted but quick runs through the cones.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Despite the rear-biased drive of the AWD, throwing the car into tight and fast corners during the fast laps does see some understeer, but it’s not the tangent-chasing, terminal, heading-for-the-barrier type. It’s very slight, progressive, fully apparent and easily – and delightfully – correctable on the throttle. You can even induce a little oversteer, all the stability systems will never let things get really out of hand, but it will allow some arcing of the back end. Faithful steering adds to the confidence.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

And with a 0-100kph time of 3.5 seconds (3.6 for the regular V10) it does feel face-rearrangingly quick. How it’s able to deploy that performance without wriggling or writhing is astonishing.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

V8 on the road

So what’s the R8 like on the road? Well from behind the wheel, at first acquaintance and driving around normally, not much different from any other Audi. You’re sitting a little lower, the ride is a little more communicative of the road surface and the roof a bit lower than other Audis.

2013 Audi R8 V8

But you’re in climate-controlled comfort, music pumping out through the decent sound system, all the dials are exactly where they should be, there are no warning or fault lights, all the buttons make sense and do exactly what they should, and everything’s very calm, considered and… normal.

2013 Audi R8 V8

So it comes as something of a surprise then each time someone starts staring, or pointing, or even taking pictures of your ‘supercar’ (which really does happen) because you forget that that’s what you are in fact sitting in – a sensational and rather spectacular supercar.

2013 Audi R8 V8

But few other mid-engine ‘exotics’ will let you go about your normal day-to-day business with such serenity and order. Most importantly with barely a moan or a groan. This ‘supercar’ has no tantrums, no sulks, doesn’t feel like it’s on a leash, will happily sit in traffic all day long, and is relatively easy and compact enough to park and go anywhere. It even manages speed bumps and the occasional rough-roading reasonable well, though you might ground the front.

2013 Audi R8 V8

None of the above could apply equally well to any of its rivals in the mid-engine segment, especially those that offer this level of performance and poseability.

2013 Audi R8 V8

And whilst the 0-100kph might be down on the V10 at 4.3 seconds (well this 4.2 V8 ‘only’ puts out 430bhp) the character of the engine makes the performance more accessible and grunty, and yet keen to rumble around town with no complaint.

2013 Audi R8 V8

I use the word ‘rumble’ quite deliberately, because whilst the V10 (which is sourced from the Lamborghini Gallardo) takes on a manic and thrilling shriek at higher revs and still sounds meaty at lower revs, to my ears the V8 is more melodic and beefy at everyday momentum.

2013 Audi R8 V8

That’s not to say that this V8 gives anything away in, to borrow a very German term, sportiveness. Even the V8 has been sharpened and the turn-in is even more eager then I remember, whilst the ride is still very viable for commuting duties for a sexy exotic.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Verdict

I know what you’re thinking. Sure this is yesterday’s supercar and must be feeling a bit old now. Perhaps you’re right, the exterior and interior architecture is half a dozen years old. But the very fact they have left most of it alone suggests that it’s still working, and Audi felt no need to radically change anything.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Except for one thing. Putting aside the manual transmission for a moment, because no one in the Middle East buys that sadly, the R8 had one, and only one, major flaw. That was the previous automatic transmission. A stuttering and jerky affair most unbecoming of the car – something you had to really work around and which could be occasional frustrating.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

This issue has now been totally resolved by the new DCT which is smooth, very quick, extremely comfortable in normal driving, but satisfyingly snappy at speed.

So we’re good to go, and for at least another two years or probably more, as the next generation R8 is not likely to appear before 2016.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

Meanwhile what else touches it? The Ferrari 458 is the best mid-engine supercar on the market, but it’s costlier and rather too precious to be a daily beater for most. The Gallardo is effectively dead now, and we await the new Cabrera eagerly, but that will also be a slightly nutty, highly strung beast of a thing.

2013 Audi R8 V8

Then you have the McLaren, possibly the closest alternative to the R8, and better outright on the track. But as a daily driver it’s not quite as comfortable and from our experience has proven somewhat fallible and fragile.

2013 Audi R8 V8

Of course the R8 was arguably inspired by the original Honda NSX as a supercar you could live with, and there’s a new NSX on the way. We’ll wait to see how good that is in 2015. Meanwhile, this is your only choice.

2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus

But which of the two, the V8 or V10? Very simple, if you going to be doing regular track-days with your R8 and speed really is your thing, than go for the V10 Plus – bypass the regular V10, as the Plus is better value overall. But if you’ll mostly use it in the real world, I reckon the V8 is the one to have, and all the supercar most people will ever need – for now.

Read V10 Plus review here

Specs
2013 Audi R8
Price:
R8 V8 Coupe AED430,000 (US$117k)
R8 V8 Spyder AED480,000 (US$131k)
R8 V10 Coupe AED530,000 (US$144k)
R8 V10 Spyder AED580,000 (US$158k)
R8 V10 Plus AED595,000 (US$162k)
Engine:
R8 V8: 4.2-litre V8, 430bhp @ 7900rpm, 317lb ft @ 4500-6000rpm
R8 V10: 5.2-litre V10, 525bhp @ 8000rpm, 391lb ft @ 6500rpm
R8 V10 Plus: 5.2-litre V10, 550bhp @ 8000rpm, 398lb ft @ 6500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Performance:
R8 V8: 0-100kph 4.3 seconds, Top speed 300kph
R8 V8 Spyder: 0-100kph 4.5 seconds, Top speed 300kph
R8 V10: 0-100kph 3.6 seconds, Top speed 314kph
R8 V10 Spyder: 0-100kph 3.8 seconds, Top speed 311kph
R8 V10 Plus: 0-100kph 3.5 seconds, Top speed 317kph
Fuel Economy:
R8 V8: 12.4L/100km
R8 V8 Spyder: 12.6L/100km
R8 V10: 13.1L/100km
R8 V10 Spyder: 13.3L/100km
R8 V10 Plus: 12.9L/100km
Weight:
R8 V8: 1585kg
R8 V8 Spyder: 1685kg
R8 V10: 1645kg
R8 V8 Spyder: 1745kg
R8 V10 Plus: 1595kg

Which would you pick? Tell us below

 

2 responses to “2013 Audi R8 V10 & V8 review”

  1. eRIQ says:

    my wife and I bought this after selling our daughter Amanda into white slavery, the pictures are amazing 🙂

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