Audi started selling its luxury cars in India in 2004 and since then the company has been on an expansion spree. After sedans and SUVs, it also brought its sports cars to the sub-continent. The exorbitant price and the low stance of these super cars coupled with the traffic and road conditions in India give them very limited number of buyers but they do have qualities that make them lovable.
Audi R8 Coupe is a package of power and entertainment with its 4.2 litre V8 engine producing 423 bhp and 43 kgm of torque. And because power is addictive, the German carmaker plonked a bigger engine in another variant of this sports coupe – this is the R8 V10 with Lamborghini-sourced 5.2 litre FSI mill churning 518 bhp (at 8000 rpm) and 54 kgm of torque (at 6500 rpm). The facelifted versions of R8 came to the markets in early 2013. In addition to some cosmetic upgrades it got a new 7 speed dual clutch (S tronic) transmission. The older international models have 6 speed manual.
Is this Audi product a no nonsense super car that can be practical for occasional drives in the city? How does it score in terms or ride and handling? ECARDLR checks the qualities that make the R8 special.
The Exterior Image and Form
With a large bonnet concealing the 5.2 litre V10 engine, the R8 looks remarkable, attracting attention on the road and in parking lots. Furthermore, the arresting sheetmetal is aluminium based and this reduces the performance sapping mass of this car. It is actually the entire R8 that has been fabricated with light weight steel and aluminium to keep up the athletic performance. The coupe scales at 1620 kg.
Audi R8 is 2029 mm in width. The large hexagonal grill has horizontal slats that give it a wider appearance and the Audi rings are placed just above the grille, on the edge of the bonnet. The air dams are massive and speak of the sporty character of this car. After the nip and tuck, the split design of the headlamps is fresh and these are full LEDs. The sharply raked windscreen adds to the aero-dynamism of the car.
The flared wheel arches house 18 inch alloys with 235/40 R18 tyres at front and 285/35 R18 at rear as standard. These are upgradeable to 19 inchers with 235/35 R19 for front and 295/30 R19 for rear. The outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) have slim side turn indicators. With side blades, a sharp coupe line and large rear windscreen area, the dynamic stance is further enhanced.
At the rear, the stonking power of the engine is evident by the size of the twin exhaust outlets on the two sides of bumper. The LED optimised, elongated tail lamps have a wedge shaped design and there is a sporty spoiler on the boot lid. Audi R8 Coupe also comes in a Plus variant which is similar to the regular trim but has carbon fibre parts all around. Its exhaust outlets have a blackened finish.
The suspension set up for this sports car includes independent, adaptive magnetic dampers for front and aluminium double wishbone set up for rear. It gets hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering system.
Inside the Two Seater Cabin
Now the R8 is a low car and ingress/egress can be little problematic. The look and feel of the interiors also exude sportiness. The low-slung seats upholstered in Nappa leather are bolstered well to offer you adequate support and comfort for an ergonomic driving stance. Both the seats are eight-way electrically adjustable for height and lumbar support. They are memory optimised and are also heated for extra luxury. You do expect such extravagance in a car that costs over 1.5 crore.
Holding the chunky flat bottomed, leather wrapped, multi-function steering wheel is a pleasure. Paddle shifters are standard on the R8 V10. The pedals in driver footwell are large to control all that action on the road and a dead pedal is also provided. The grey dials on the instrument console are clearly readable. In between the large tachometer and speedometer is the multi information display and among other things, you stay informed on date, time, outside temperature, vehicle voltage and service intervals.
On the centre console the MMI screen with 6.5 inch TFT screen for Bluetooth, Audi Music Interface, and navigation. Bang and Olufsen makes music in the R8 V10 more enjoyable. Parking system plus with reversing camera is a standard feature – it indicates both acoustically and visually the gap between your car and any object
Automatic climate control keeps the cabin temperature comfortable for the two occupants. The stubby gear selector on the centre console has a smooth metallic finish. Cruise control is a standard feature. With day/night cabin rear view mirror and power adjustable, retractable, heated ORVMs it becomes convenient to get a clear vision of the road behind and vehicles following the car.
The range of safety features for the R8 V10 includes full size airbags for driver and co-driver and side airbags integrated with the seat backrests, integrated head restraint system, active rollover protection, pretensioners and force limiters with the three point seat belts, hill hold assist and tyre pressure monitoring. ABS, ESP, EBD and brake assist are standard attributes. Car security elements count central remote locking system, engine immobiliser and anti theft alarm.
Testing the Engine, Gearbox and Performance
Fire up the 5204 cc V10 engine and this sports car sounds eager to start. It is only on revving up that you hear the typical rumble of this motor. With the steeply raked windshield you get a clear view of the road ahead and even if the R8 has a mid-engine layout, its rearward visibility is good. This car is surprisingly easy to drive at slow speeds within the city but it is rather disappointing to drag it through the traffic when there is 518 bhp of humongous power to unleash. Anyhow, there is ample torque to amble about in the streets and you won’t be troubled by any turbo lag. The power delivery is linear as the car begins its cruise and is taken to clearer roads.
Just a light dab on the pedal and this Audi super car builds up speed to reach triple digits before you know. The 0-100 km/hour comes in only 4.40 seconds. In the Sport mode, the exhaust picks up a throaty sound and screams in true sport car style as the Lamborghini sourced V10 engine is revved hard. It is never short of power and the performance improves in a very predictable manner.
The new 7 speed automatic gearbox is another feature to appreciate. The R8 does not have that hooliganism that is conventionally associated with sports cars. It knows how to build up speed but kicks off in an impressive manner. This coupe has a relaxed practicality that suits its brilliant on-pace accuracy. And this is what makes it suitable for both highways and city roads.
Regardless of the powertrain presets that are chosen, Audi R8 V10 remains in the Auto gears mode most of the time. But then there are the paddle-shifters mounted on the steering column. So switch on to the manual mode and it will hold onto the desired gears and swap ratios on command with remarkable response and accuracy. Actually the automatic ‘box works very well and downshifts willingly as you lift off the throttle paddle so manual changing of gears wont be required often.
Ride and Handling
Audi R8 V10 has a stiff suspension and while the ride is not very smooth on poor roads, it is not uncomfortable either. It is in the Sport mode that you feel more of ripples disturbing the cabin so use it only when you are driving the car on smoother, well-paved tarmac. With low ride height of this sports car, you’ve got to be very careful while taking it over speed breakers.
While many other sports cars feel little intimidating on uphill winding roads, the R8 is pretty willing to change directions. Despite the tail-heaviness and rear torque bias, it exits corners quite skilfully. The body roll is pretty controlled. The 295 section tyres also provide a good grip on road.
The credit for R8’s athletic prowess also goes to the Quattro four-wheel drive. It sends 65 percent of the power to the rear wheels and can increase it to 90 percent when needed.
Thanks to its light steering wheel’s turning radius of 11.8 metres, Audi R8 V10 coupe is very easy to maneuver at low speeds. The steering also weighs up adequately with speed and offers more feedback than you would normally expect from an Audi. With its spread out width, you will need to use the parking system to move this car in and out of cramped areas.
In terms of braking ability the drilled and ventilated petal discs – gripped by eight-piston calipers in front and four-piston ones at the rear – work well in almost all conditions. The pedal offers a good bite and anti-lock braking is pretty unobtrusive. Audi R8 V10 can come to an absolute halt from 80 km/hour in 2.0 seconds.
The ARAI certified fuel economy of this car is only 7.4 km/litre. People going for an Audi R8 should not be bothered by such meagre figures but just for the records it can deliver 3.5 km/litre in the city and up to 5.2 km/litre on the highways.
Priced at Rs. 1.95 crore (ex show room price Delhi), the R8 V10 coupe deserves to be driven chiefly on well paved, multi-lane auto bahns but in India we don’t have many. Still, with a nice spread of power and torque, Audi engineers have made the R8 easy to occasionally drive in the city too – you just need to learn the skills of patience and be at peace when this beauty is being stared at and is stuck in a heavy jam.
The extra power of the 5.2 litre engine, a controlled kerb weight and plenty of equipment for control and safety makes this coupe enjoyable for a responsible and experienced driver in its cockpit. It is quick off the block, the 7 speed S tronic transmission works beautifully and the handling is admirable, so it does please you even if you simply test it on a race track.
While we're on the subject, Audi R8 V10 has been a popular car around the globe for quite some time but now it has to compete with the new Jaguar F Type R coupe.
Value for Money: 3/5