The Audi R8 V10 may be a German beast by birth, but it shares it bloodline with some of the most ferocious Italian bulls. We just had a ride!
Words: Amit Chhangani
Images: Hanoz Patel
Every face stupefied, every eye jealous, every throat parched, every heart pounding – the spectacle of the R8 left the onlookers in sheer awe wherever the enchanting car went. In its V10 avatar, the R8 had an even sharper edge to it, making it command both adulation and envy in measures which would be termed high even for a supercar.
Parked between those lesser 250bhp machines – wide, low and shapely, the razor sharp R8 exuded pedigree, dynamism and a sense of speed without turning a wheel. The R8 looks its murderous best when viewed head on front on or from behind – wide, low and sharp as a blade. In profile, the signature carbon fiber cowl adds character as well as a dash of oddball distinction to the shape.
Even with all our understanding of cars and having driven various other supercars previously, we were left gasping at the first sight of this exotic. We looked at the mystic machine, Hanoz and I, and then we looked at each other – a stunned expression writ large over both our faces. The R8’s shape does not belong to this world – for those used to flowy, traditionally styled supercars, the R8 offers shock treatment. It’s a projection of what road going cars of the 21st century should look like.
Step closer from behind and you get to witness the V10 monster through the rear window. It’s legendary stuff, that engine – the same power-plant that goads the smaller Raging Bulls. Sitting at the top of the R8 pyramid, the Audi R8 V10 tend a stable of 525 steeds – beastly, impatient horses – all of them, with a hankering to rear up at the slightest opportunity. There is close to 530Nm of torque too, but it’s the power figures which have us drooling at this instance.
Available only as a hardtop (no wobbly topless bodies here) the V10 fires itself to 100 km/h in a shameless 3.6 seconds and to 200 km/h in a little more than 8 extra seconds. It’ll go all the way to nigh 314km/h if you could find a patch of tar long enough, which in this case would be really short. A sharp and swift shifting seven speed S-tronic transmission takes you up and down the rev counter in probably the fastest way possible for an automobile.
Pull open that door with rimless windows, and you’ll have to bend and contort yourself to get inside the cabin – typical supercar stuff. You fire those pairs of five opposing cylinders the good old way by twisting the key in the slot. No fancy proximity keys or push button start here. The two dials behind the steering wheel have some unsual markings on them. The one of the left is marked 1 through 10, with red paint appearing halfway past the eighth marking. On the right the last marking reads 350. Slurp!
Twist the key and the engine fires up with a hoarse, testosterone laced sound. There is enough happening under that glass window behind the driver, with those ten cylinders laid out in a V configuration to create a thunderous, ominous sound. You can make out that some large and extremely well engineered machinery is at work as the R8 V10 idles. The torrent of power barraged within that chassis makes its restlessness to break loose evident with that gruff, throaty sound.
Rev harder and the R8 V10’s cylinders spin up with an incredible urgency. There is no holding back, no progressive build up, press the paddle and the engine hits its peak in a blink. Even when it’s revving hard, there’s not a molecule of femininity to the note – dry and manly, the engine and exhaust notes denote sheer aggression and testicular fortitude. When 550 thoroughbred stallions are ready to pounce forth with that sort of alacrity, you can only imagine the mayhem that would ensue once you put the contraption in motion.
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On the move
Right from the time we put it in crawling motion, the R8 made no bones about its impatience. Even slight dabs on the pedal result in an angry growl. As long it’s kept in Sport mode, the R8 is an angry, snorting animal. With the slightest increase in the throttle opening, you’d feel an impolite thrust pinning you back into the seat. More importantly, as you release the throttle, you’ll get a forward push, thanks to engine braking. There’s just too much power, and more importantly, too much rev hungry intent there to facilitate tranquility – specifically in the Sport mode. The visibility from the driver’s position is limited to the front area. With its ultra wide B pillars, the rear left and right view is heavily compromised. You have to be extra careful while reversing this beauty.
We drove the car on an incredibly wet day with dense showers pouring down over us, slathering the road with inconsistent layers of water. And these showers were intermittent, so while on one instance we saw inch deep streams of water running across the road, the very next moment we witnessed a moist central spine with more water on the sides.
What that means in practice is that the road conditions weren’t well suited to test a supercar. Lack of granular, traction rich surface, inconsistent road conditions and dry weather tyres being used for wet weather – this was bound to get tricky. Right from the time we built some speed, we could clearly feel the fabled Quattro AWD working hard to balance the traction on all four corners and keep the car stable.
Under hard acceleration, with so much power at their disposal, especially in the Sport mode, the tyres break traction at the snap of a finger. That power-monging engine is extremely revvy, transferring large amounts of power to 43:57 biased axles almost instantaneously as you touch the accelerator pedal. Things get even trickier in wet conditions as the traction levels keep changing drastically at a very fast pace. So while the front right wheel is aquaplaning, the rear right one is just about to. The left front wheel is treading moist tarmac, while the rear left wheel is kicking gravel in a pothole – all of that happening at speeds nudging the double ton mark, and with each wheel carrying power enough to dig a crack in the road surface. Not an easy task for Quattro then to juggle power with so many adversities in its face. The spoiler of the V10 tries its bit to stabilize things, by getting deployed automatically beyond 100 km/h for additional down-force. You can deploy it manually via a button as well.
The tribulations of the Quattro in handling all that manic power was quite evident in adverse conditions were quite evident. Twitchiness, which sometimes bordered on to a slithering affect, was constantly perceptible every time we pressed the pedal hard. The diligent AWD was working indefatigably to keep the mighty R8 V10 balanced even with very low traction and without the aid of traction control, its efforts clearly perceptible at the steering wheel.
Thankfully, rain gods decided to relent after a while, offering us a straight patch of the road with unhampered visibility and a smooth stretch of tar which was just short of dry. And this was where the R8 V10 showed us what miracles it was truly capable of pulling off.
In Sport mode, the behavior you witness from the R8’s engine tranny combo is belligerence incarnated. The tacho needle kisses the redline faster than you could imagine in every gear. And with close to 525 horses at the ready, it means bloodcurdling acceleration. Novices would lift off their right foot much before it really gets dangerous. The aural pleasures you experience inside the cabin should be added to the list of seven sins, extending the number to eight. It’s just the right sound, not one decibel more, not one less. Unlike the muted burble of some of the other sports cars we have driven, this one overwhelms you with its no-holds-barred note. It’s throaty yet smooth, loud yet pleasant, dry yet insistent that you rev it to the moon and back.
That V10 powerplant absolutely loves being held by the collar and made to scream. Throttle it relentlessly to the redline, shift higher, do it again, and the R8 V10 will rev all the way to the redline with almost the same manic alacrity. It’s one crazy powerplant! Trust me, if you are pushing it hard enough in a straight line from a standstill, you wouldn’t have the time or courage to look at the speedo on a public road. The world is in a warped state as you bury the pedal, everything is going past you at such a bludgeoning pace, you’d dare not take your vision off the road. The whole experience is just too engaging, too involving, too exciting, too physical and emotional. You gun this baby to speeds we don’t speak of here, and by the time you lift off, you’d realize that all your nerves are tingling, the hair on your arms are erect in tension. Bliss!
And now comes the biggest surprise. The menacing, spooky, unrelenting face of the R8 has another side too. And you wouldn’t quite believe it when you see it. Angry and bloodthirsty when the given the stick, the R8 is equally docile when put in the normal drive mode. The ground clearance is just about manageable for the Indian highways (highways, mind, not your everyday roads) and the engine has enough grunt lower down the rev range to keep you pottering about without a worry in the world. Sixth gear, 1200 rpm, 80km/h – piece of cake! No spluttering, no stuttering- the engine spins smoothly, it’s almost as if you were driving your hatchback, which has been flattened into a wider shape. The R8 V10 is the epitome of an everyday supercar – if only it cleared a little more of the ground, it would have taken even the disastrous Mumbai roads in its stride.
We drove the car in extremely wet conditions, and mostly on arrow straight roads. While the R8 V10 exhibited tremendous composure in a straight line while treading damp to dry conditions, we wouldn’t comment authoritatively on the handling aspect until we have driven the car in dry conditions around a set of twisties.
Next page for cabin features and other technicalities>>>
Cabin and features
The R8 is surprisingly sober from the inside for a supercar, especially for an Audi. We have seen far more toys to play with in regulation Audi cars. But that’s the thing with these performance machines – you want to keep the bells and whistles to a bare minimum so that they don’t come in the way of their singular objective – going as fast as possible!
The most eye-catching and differentiated bit inside the cabin, without a question, is the drive selector lever. The exquisitely crafted aluminum finish shifter stick looks more like a piece of art than equipment. With the beautiful R8 Emblem on top, it invites you to hold it even when the car is at rest.
Unlike the familiar, PRNDL layout for the drive selector, this one is different. You’ll have to choose the A mode for Auto (Drive), push the lever fore and aft for manual gear selection, pull it to the right to engage Neutral, and pull it down further thereon for engaging reverse. The layout may be different, but it’s very intuitive and doesn’t take more than a few seconds to get used to.
The buttons for the MMI interface which are generally positioned on the floating panel between the front seats are shifted into the center console below the flip-out screen. The layout is quite different too with various menu buttons now arranged in a row. The MMI options choice buttons are below the horizontally stacked menu items.
The instrumentation is tastefully done. It adorns the classic look featuring black dials with racy white and red fonts. The twin pod assembly has the tacho to the left and speedo to the right. Holding the center-stage in the left dial is the R8 emblem, while the right part has V10 written at the center. The fuel gauge, which is one of the more frequently used items, is positioned at the top between the tacho and speedo. It gets obscured behind the upper part of the steering wheel sometimes and you have to bend down to have a look at it from time to time. The Multi Information display positioned in the middle offers all the information you may require about the trip and other functions.
Power-adjustable sports seats and folding seat backs are standard in the R8 V10. The standard driver information system on the superior V10 Plus also has a lap timer for recording lap times. The shift pedals on the V 10 come in aluminum look. Navigation and the Bang & Olufsen Sound System are also available.
Now you don’t expect much storage space inside a supercar, do you? Well you’d be surprised to see that the R8 V10 plus has the space to store as many as 12 bottles inside its compact cabin …. Nawwt!
It does, however have a small glove compartment, two cupholders behind the drive selector, and two small covered compartments behind that. In addition, you also have a ledge running across the width of the car behind the seats to store items such as a couple of haversacks or slim briefcases.
And just so you don’t crib about not having the space to store your luggage, there is a boot too – in the place where you usually have your engine. Yep, that sharply styled nose doesn’t have only aesthetic value – it’s utterly functional too encapsulating more than 100 liters of volume.
The Audi R8 V10 weighs a little more than 1600 kilograms, the V10 Plus variant weighs 50 kilograms less! The hand built, and extremely precise Aluminium Space frame body of the Audi R8 has been modified to achieve the feat.
The upright air intakes on the sides include a solid aluminum gas cap. At the front of the V10, the Audi grille has its struts adorned with fine chrome strips for differentiation to the V8 versions. The Audi logo is not on the grille, but on the hood. The V8 and V10 versions of the Coupé are further distinguished by the design of the side air scoops. They are flared wider on the V10 variants. The sideblades of the top of the line Audi R8 V10 plus are made of Carbon fiber.
All versions of the R8 now come standard with all-LED headlights. The blinkers have dynamic light strips that run outwards when lit. The LEDs for the high and low beams are located above and below the daytime running lights. The headlights also include a static turning light.
As a technology showcase, doing suspension duty on the R8 V10 Plus (not the standard V10) is the Audi magnetic ride active damping system. The shock absorber pistons contain a synthetic hydrocarbon fluid with microscopically small magnetic particles. When the Audi R8 steers into a curve, the damping force on the outermost wheel is increased using magnetic field, which reduces body roll.
The V10 versions have 19-inch wheels with 235/35 and 295/30 section, front and rear tyres respectively. Carbon fiber-ceramic disks come standard in the Audi R8 V10 plus for some ferocious stopping power. Up front are six-piston, monoblock calipers and discs measuring 380 millimeters in diameter; in the back are four-piston fixed calipers and 360-millimeter discs.
While driving, the Electronic Stability Control can be switched to Sport mode, for limited interference for oversteer. The ESC can also be switched off completely.
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The Audi R8 V10 has been globally acclaimed as one of the most accomplished supercars of its time. It shares its engine with one of the most revered supercars of our time, the Lamborghini Gallardo, which costs a whole fortune more than this four ringed baby. With exhilerating performance, distinctive looks and an inimitable character, the R8 V10 is a genuine supercar every way you look at it. At Rs 1.8 crore ex-showroom, it costs like one too. But if you want to get unadulterated two-door supercar looks and performance, that’s about as economical as you could ever get. The R8 V10 is a thoroughbred with shiploads of emotional appeal and character. It’s an authentic supercar in the truest sense of the word.
Price: Rs 1.8 Crore Ex-Showroom
Displacement 5204 cc
Fuel Type Petrol
Max Power 525 bhp @ 8000 RPM
Max Torque 530 Nm @ 6500 RPM
Mileage (ARAI) 6.71 kmpl
Transmission Type 7-speed S-Tronic Auto
Drivetrain AWD Quattro
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