Audi R8 V10 Plus: an addictive mix of excellence and excess

Audi R8 V10 Plus

My name is John McCann, and I’m an addict.

My addiction? The accelerator pedal of the Audi R8 V10 Plus. Every time I take my foot off it, I want to press it again. And again. And again. It’s just so, well… addictive.

The acceleration from the V10, 600hp engine is truly something to behold. It’s a mix of being on the front row of a high-speed roller coaster and straddling a guided missile.

Put the pedal to the metal and the car hunkers down at the rear before hurtling you forward at an awesome rate. 0-60mph takes just 3.2 seconds, but even 0-40mph feels almost supersonic.

The Audi R8 V10 Plus certainly isn’t cheap, but when you get behind the wheel you can begin to understand why it commands such a large amount of your money.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

The Audi R8 V10 Plus

The approach

The R8 looks sublime. Sleek, low, powerful – it glistened on my driveway. Even with the engine off it’s a head turner. The rear glass covering the engine gives you a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come when you hit the red start/stop button on the steering wheel.

We drove

Audi R8 V10 Plus
Engine
: 5.2 liter V10
Power output: 610bhp
Top speed: 205mph
0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
Fuel efficiency: 21.1mpg
Price: £153,395

Flashes of carbon fiber on the sides and rear spoiler add to the performance-driven aesthetic, but as I approached the R8 I faced my first challenge. How on earth do I open the door?

The R8 has blemish-free doors for ultimate aerodynamics, and it left me briefly baffled as I studied the key to see if there was a button that triggered the door. There wasn’t.

Instead, you’ve got to run your hand along the underneath of the angled sill of the door, where your fingers will slip into a handle allowing you to open up the wide doors.

Slipping down into the driving seat, a glance at the center console reveals a quite glaring omission. There’s no touch screen, no color display - not even a simple dot-matrix offering allowing you to see the current radio station. It’s a rarity in modern cars. All is not lost here, but more on that in a bit.

Toss the key into one of the center console cubby holes, place your foot on the break and hit the red start/stop button on the steering wheel and the Audi R8 roars into life. And I really do mean roars.

It’s an obnoxiously loud engine start up, but it reminds you just how much power is located directly behind your head and it doesn’t fail to raise a rye smile each time - especially when there are envious onlookers present.

While it’s all fun and games at mid-afternoon on a summer's day, your neighbours will be far less impressed when it comes to starting up the Audi R8 at 7am on a work day. 

I love the noise the R8 makes, but a quiet mode for early morning starts - like Ford has implemented on the Mustang - would be useful for those of us unable to live somewhere without neighbours in earshot.

Audi R8 V10 Plus exterior gallery

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The button

Out on the open road though and any fears of excess noise seep away as I plant the accelerator and feel my body get sucked into the seat as the R8 launches forward.

The 5.2 liter, V10 engine makes a fantastic sound, but it’s not deafening - a surprising bonus considering its location just behind your head. However, the sound you’re hearing can get even better.

Located just below the red start/stop button on the steering wheel is another circular button with a picture of a dual exhaust on it. Press this and you’ll change the exhaust mode from standard to sport.

This, in turn, provides a much more throaty, aggressive exhaust note. There was a similar button on the Jaguar F-Type SVR I drove, and its addition on the Audi R8 is just as welcome.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

The button. Oh, the button. Much fun

One screen to rule them all?

I fell in love with Audi’s virtual cockpit when I drove the A5 Coupe in 2017, so I was thrilled that it was positioned behind the wheel in the R8. Unlike in the A5 though, this time around it’s got a lot more depending on it.

With no central display on the dash, the instrument cluster display doubles as the infotainment center. It does mean switching between source inputs (radio, CD, phone etc) isn’t quite as intuitive or efficient as you’re limited to the on-wheel controls to scroll through menus and make your selections.

Similarly, entering locations into the sat nav isn’t as quick either, but once you’ve selected your audio input and started navigation the display is excellent. Clear instructions display alongside easy to read dials and track details.

It does mean your passenger doesn’t have any say in what’s being pumped through the powerful Bang & Olufsen speaker system though - the driver has the ultimate control.

While there’s no central screen, you do get a couple of USB ports allowing you to plug in and charge your phone. They sit alongside a 3.5mm audio jack, allowing you to plug in other audio sources to play through the R8’s stereo system.

Audi R8 V10 Plus interior gallery

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There is luggage space, under the hood at the front of the vehicle, and it’s big enough for a couple of weekend bags - but not a lot else. However, considering this is a supercar, it’s considerably more space than some of its rivals offer.

But really, this car isn’t about the infotainment or the luggage space - the car is the entertainment. The Audi R8 V10 Plus is wonderfully powerful, has the head-turning looks and sound you’d want and is surprisingly easy to drive in cities.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.