As thrilling to drive (and as easy to live with) as ever
At a glance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Practicality
  • Costs
One of the few remaining non-turbos
Still fab through corners
Easy to drive every day
Lacking in mid-range punch
Reserved steering feel
Not a step-change from old V10 Plus
  • Variant: R8 V10 Performance
  • Price: £141,000 (est.)
  • Engine: 5,204cc, V10, petrol
  • Power: 612bhp @ 8,000rpm
  • Torque: 428 lb ft @ 6,500pm
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch sequential auto, four-wheel drive
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph: 3.1 seconds
  • Top Speed: 205mph
  • Fuel: 24mpg (est.)
  • co2: TBC
  • Road tax band: TBC
  • Dimensions: 4,426mm x 1,940mm x 1,240mm
  • Release Date: Spring 2019

2019 Audi R8 V10 Performance review

An Audi with attitude

More Info

BEFORE THE original Audi R8 arrived in 2006, the idea that Audi would be able to build a Ferrari-rivalling supercar was met with more than a raised eyebrow. Yes, the company had a history of rallying success but when it came to road cars, Audi was at the time largely known for rather lumpen (if powerful) saloon and estate cars.

Then the motoring press drove the car. And loved it.

The R8 had four-wheel drive but unlike other quattro Audis, power was primarily sent to the back wheels. This meant that, most of the time, the R8 handled a rear-wheel drive supercar. A good one, too.

Throw in an open-gated manual gearbox and a NASCAR-esque 4.2-litre V8 engine, pinched from that year’s RS 4, and you ended up with a machine of which the gods themselves would be proud. Some experts even said it was better than a Porsche 911, an idea that nevertheless resulted in much smirking at dinner parties.

Amazingly, the R8 has only got better with age. In 2008 the aluminium-bodied supercar got the 5.2-litre V10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo and by 2013 the quick-shifting S Tronic DSG automatic gearbox had replaced the original — and clunky — robotised R Tronic auto.

The DSG proved such a success that by the time the current R8 was launched in 2015, the manual gearbox had been dropped entirely. The charismatic V8 was also killed — you now got two V10s to choose from. Nevertheless, 50kg had been shaved from the R8’s weight.

It’s with this backstory that we meet the latest in the lineage — the R8 V10 Performance, which replaces the old top-of-the-range V10 Plus.

Most easily spotted by the horizontal air vents that run along the edge of its bonnet and the huge grille that stretches across the back of the car, the facelifted R8 V10 Performance gets 612bhp and 428Ib ft of torque — up from 602bhp and 398Ib ft in the Plus – a better-equipped cabin and, well, that’s about it.

Unsurprisingly, you’d struggle to tell the difference between old and new model to drive because both deliver an experience that is dominated by the engine’s laser-like responses and screaming noise at the top of its rev range.

Banging through the DSG gearbox’s seven speeds is tantamount to willingly giving your neck small doses of whiplash but doing so gets you from 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds, and the R8 will top 205mph.

Impressive stuff, but the difference between the naturally-aspirated R8 and its turbocharged competition is that you need to squeeze every last rev out of the engine to get best from it. And newer supercars are also starting to surpass the R8 in corners, but you’re talking small percentages.

The R8 is a hoot to drive, but it’s the day-to-day drudgery of modern driving where the Audi comes into its own

The Audi’s standard carbon-fibre-reinforced ceramic disc brakes effortlessly scrub speed as you turn into a bend, but the level of feedback offered by the steering isn’t quite as detailed as you’d like. That said, the acres of grip on offer mask the loss of the finer details and the steering is still extremely quick and accurate.

The four-wheel-drive system, meanwhile, makes corner exits easy, either locking to the Tarmac like velcro or letting you wag the tail with a dab of throttle, depending on how loose you set the car’s Drive Select.

All of which makes the R8 a hoot to drive, but its when you can’t have fun that the Audi really comes into its own, because it’s also still amazingly good at the day-to-day drudgery of modern driving.

Sat behind the steering wheel, visibility is excellent and the R8 has the kind of cabin quality that makes a mockery of many supercars. The huge Virtual Cockpit display, meanwhile, remains a paragon of usability and for 2018 it comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, plus a reversing camera, as standard.

Sure, you only get two seats but they’re spacious enough even if you’re tall and there’s a decent amount of room behind them for soft bags. Factor in the luggage compartment between the front wheels and the R8 has enough space for you and a partner to get away for a weekend.

So, the R8’s gone full circle. In a time when even Ferrari’s mid-engined supercar is turbocharged, the Audi represents a pocket of resistance for the naturally aspirated engine.

The R8’s gone from being perceived as the anodyne choice to offering one of the most satisfying experiences the supercar world has to offer.

Find out how much you could save on the Audi R8 at carwow (not on sale at time of publishing)


Audi R8 V10 Performance rivals

Mercedes-AMG GTR
Price: £142, 945
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Honda NSX
Price: £144,895
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Nissan GT-R
Price: £81,995 – £151,995
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