10k Miles Later in the R8

An every day hero.

It’s a genuine rare car the Audi R8 V10 Plus. As an experiment in confirming absolute zero logic in the world of performance car pricing, it’s a resounding success.

Purchased back in August 2017, it had an immediate impact on me that I did not expect. With its visually arresting colour (an Audi exclusive paint), I was genuinely taken back by how dramatic the car was in person. It’s unfortunately not a universal appreciation; although most people, especially car enthusiasts, share my appreciation of it, there’s an equal amount who see it as way too narcissistic. The wife and two daughters refuse to ever sit in the car. I’m not even allowed to be within 500 meters of their school. Dad’s will understand.

Still, the impact it had in me over 18 months ago is still effective in day to day driving with a surprising amount of people stopping me daily for photos and conversation. I’ve mentioned before how I genuinely believe the Audi badge has a huge contributing factor towards this

The R8 V10 is ultimately a victim of its own success. It is without doubt the most usable ‘supercar’ I’ve ever owned. With an unrivaled propensity to deal with anything (and I mean anything) you throw at it, the R8 simply refuses to become compromised in anything it does. But when a car is this accessible it’s impossible to not pile the miles on.

So utterly capable is this car that I’ve pretty much used it daily to take me into work into Central London. Every. Single. Day. That’s over 10k miles of colourful, blissful, trouble free motoring in a 600BHP V10. Its beyond comprehension, really. The irony of this concept is that the very thing that would normally prohibit such free use of a car – its 5.2 beating heart V10 – is also the very thing that makes it as usable daily as it is.

That soundtrack is no question the best sound any car can ever make – bar perhaps a Novitec fuelled V12 F12 – which means driving this car even at 4/10ths is always, always an exhilarating experience. Yes, the overtly synthetic pops and bangs become a little superficial at times with every single overrun feeding back a symphony of fireworks, but it remains addictive as the first time you ever provoked the gun fire.

The super short overhang on the front of the R8 completely eradicates any need of any front-lift suspension – I’ve driven everywhere in this car, over a multitude of speed ramps, disgustingly designed underground car parks and hideously ruined private roads with pot-holes the size of craters and I’ve never once bottomed out or grazed my front. Above photo also shows no number plate which I believe makes the car look ferocious – but it’s such an obvious omission with the huge gaping maw left without a bone to chew on, I had endless attention from Police – sticking it back on was sensible.

If you’re going over a series of speed ramps, then it makes sense to switch the suspension mode over to Dynamic, which is code for track mode – it stiffens the suspension which removes the super bouncy behaviour the R8 has in its comfort mode. On speed, the suspension stiffens, but at low speed the comfort mode is so bouncy, I’ve heard stories of MOT failures.

More on the comfort mode on this car. With exhaust muted and that beautiful seven speed twin clutch shifting effortlessly through all gears, it becomes a wonderfully serene place to be. McLaren tout its cars as having the best ride in the class and having driven one extensively recently, it genuinely has the best feedback and steering of anything I’ve driven, but the ride doesn’t have a patch on the R8.

Parking is super easy has to be said – the car is designed so that the bonnet edge is always visible to the driver and added to that all the creature comforts of parking aids, including sensors and cameras, the only thing you worry about is curbing those magical wheels (yes it happens).

The R8 is the culmination of decades of Audi know-how. Few do interiors like Audi and the R8 combines all the best elements from across the range. The cabin is exquisitely designed and somebody with real understanding of user experience has properly thought about it. Visually it’s a real modern, sci-fi place to sit. A combination of leather, chrome and carbon fibre makes it a classy, non-fussy environment with a plethora of toys at your disposal. The Sat-Nav is excellent, with the high resolution multi-function dashboard a real treasure in the car, allowing you to customise exactly what you want to see, responsive voice controls and an excellent Bluetooth system, it clearly is a car built to cosset the driver.

Seats are super comfortable and do well both in long distance cruising as well as keeping you snug and tight during performance driving and combined with the thatched stitching gives it a super classy look and feel. But special mention must go again to the Bang & Olufsen system which continues to reign supreme as the best manufacturer hifi system I’ve heard. It’s super tight with amazing dynamic range and volume to boot.

The luggage space under the bonnet is generous enough for a mid-engined car and I’ve only ever found myself wanting once or twice. Soft holdalls are the way to go but there’s also generous space behind the seats and having driven to Europe a couple of times in the car I never felt I had to leave anything behind.

But what about that beating heart…?

It is a magical masterpiece that I guarantee will go down in history as one of the greatest combustion engines ever made. It’s tactile, dynamic and ferociously powerful and I can only now understand why both Audi and Lamborghini both saw fit to use this engine, and continue to do so, in their halo model cars.

Sat in traffic, 33 deg C heat, I don’t understand how it remains so obedient. No doubt a plethora of plumbing excellence has ensured that this 5.2l lump remains cool and hydrated (it does drink a fair bit of oil as I’ve found myself having to top up between services) and it manages to retain all its character both through searing heat and snow.

As a power-plant to a sports car, it offers everything. Performance is magical, with over 600BHP on tap and a 9000 RPM redline, the drama that unfolds when you hit that peak is a crescendo of operatic magnificence. I can’t wax lyrical about enough – the feedback I always get from people is almost always from the noise.

But to recognise the car simply for the sound it makes is to do it a huge injustice. It is mated to an adept gearbox and a remarkably capable chassis. Although the steering may feel a little muted, especially compared to any hydraulic counterparts, I would take any criticism levied at the dynamic steering with a pinch of salt and ask anyone to make their own decisions.

On track, the car feels a little heavy, but offers plenty feedback and you’re always aware of what every corner is doing. The grip is absolute with any exploitation requiring either some deliberate misappropriation of weight, or some mistakes to shift. When I did Silverstone, the car felt capable and resilient and the sheer grunt and traction made it one of the fastest cars on the circuit.

Personally, I like my track cars to allow a little lateral play and the R8 doesn’t like doing that in excess – something I found to my misfortune as the tyres blew on the way home!

On the road, it’s a beautiful, rewarding and enriching experience. It’s currently sun blazing outdoors as I write this and all I want to do is take it out. Audi have managed to do something so utterly rare in today’s power crazed industry, and that is to create a car that gives you 90% of the fun at 50% of the effort. I drove a McLaren 720s at length (more on that later) and I felt I had to be doing insane speeds in order to experience the highs that this R8 gives me at half the risk.

Mated to the super smart 4WD system, engaging full power out of a roundabout onto any dual carriageway is one of life’s simple, yet rapidly diminishing pleasures. It’s a surreal and intoxicating experience that remains laughably obscene and both intimately rewarding.

What’s the punchline?

After 10k miles and 2 years of ownership, the best praise I can levy on a car I’ve owned for longer than any other before (apart from the 997 GT3 I owned for 2.5 years) is that I long daily to get back into it. Looking at the classifieds right now, I can’t believe that £90k gets you into one of these cars. That’s ludicrous value for money and I daresay the safest place you can put £100k into a car right now.

It’s not the best track car I’ve ever owned but I’d go as far as to say as a complete package, it has zero peer. The next closest thing is probably a 911 Turbo and frankly as competent as they are, it really is a downgrade in drama. The R8 has just had a mid-life makeover and the facelift is really working on me. I’d love to swap into one, but spending £50k extra on a car that is largely identical to mine would be submitting to the madness I eluded to earlier.

Frankly, if the car’s good enough for Tony Stark, it’s good enough for me.

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