Road Test of the Year 2016: Audi R8 V10 Plus Review

We're hard on the fast pedal and accelerating towards a horizon peppered by autumnal fields of gold and disgruntled sheep. Behind me, a V10 is singing at the very upper echelons of its rev range, howling a scream that's reverberating off the scenery – and I'm smiling a smile that only a supercar with an engine as special as this can induce.

If ever there was a vehicle defined by its powerplant, the R8 is it. Right from the moment it barks into life behind you, to the minute it settles down to a potent, visceral idle, you know this V10 is something special.
This is the difficult second series for the R8. The first – Audi's landmark supercar foray – was an almighty success. This is the follow-up, and a tough one at that. The first had V8 and V10 engine options. The former, when mated to an evocative open-gate manual gear box, was pure and perfect, the larger V10, a lump stolen from Lamborghini, always felt a little over the top.

But now that V8 is gone – so too is the manual option – replaced instead by a V10 and this, the V10 Plus. We can't help but mourn the loss of the click-clicking of the wonderfully mechanical open-gate gearbox, but thankfully DSG paddle- pushing cog-swapping is just as exciting. It crashes through changes in milliseconds, acceleration a constant, never interrupted by a misjudged clutch-up of a ham-fisted human.

On roads like these, this Audi gets under your skin. Three tankfuls of superunleaded later and we're positively hooked - the 601bhp unit, the hallmark of the V10 Plus, feels every bit as quick as its 3.2 second to 60mph time suggests.

And although we won't test it, good for its 205mph top speed.
It's a blessing that Audi hasn't messed too much with the original R8's winning formula.

The looks have been sharpened – there's a new nose and headlights; more slices and angles in the body. But it's still unmistakeably an R8, just tweaked for the now.

Inside, the improvements are far more apparent. The switchgear is smarter and the digital dash a revelation. The dials behind the steering wheel are all on a wide, clear screen which can be manipulated every which way you please. From telephone details to car information, to adjusting the size of the speedo to fit into a full-width sat-nav display, it's by far and away the biggest improvement Audi has made in years.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Audi R8 V10 Plus

There are no supercar compromises to be made here either. It's comfortable over long distances with decent seats that are adjustable in all the right places, and that's aided by a driving position that works just as well for cross Welsh moors jaunts to town centre shopping trips.

In fact the latter point is very important. You see this is a supercar that needn't be tucked away for weekend high jinks as it can very much be used every day.

It never feels unwieldy in town, it's no harder to park than a large saloon and there's even a reasonably-sized boot under the bonnet. Ok, so it's no SUV, but it will happily cope with a trip to a supermarket – if you can park it far enough away to save it from trolley scrapes that is.

However, it's on British B-roads and fast flowing A-roads where the R8 really comes alive. The beautifully-weighted steering may be a little devoid of feel at times, but it's accurate and solid.

The Quattro four-wheel-drive system is always planted and secure and sees the Audi corner in a calm, assured way even at the quickest of speeds and on the bumpiest of roads.

This really is a supercar for supercar beginners – there are no nasty surprises, no blink-and- you're-in-a-hedge dramas – just pure, undiluted adrenaline-soaked drives.

This Audi is good, very good indeed. In fact we'd go as far as saying it's one of the greats. And when you compare its £134,000 price tag to Ferraris and McLarens costing tens of thousands of pounds more, but offering little or no more excitement, it could even be declared a bargain.

Ok, that might be pushing things a bit too far, but for buyers who want all the fun of exotica, but none of the drama, there are no other cars to recommend above it.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Price (as tested): £134,520
Engine: 5.2-litre V10 petrol
Power: 601hp, 560Nm
Top Speed: 205mph
0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds
Fuel economy: 23.0mpg combined
Emissions: 287g/km