Audi R8 Plus Review

Australian Ken Warby once clocked 510km/h on Blowering Reservoir, deep in the Snowy Mountains, to claim a new World Water Speed Record.

But that was 1978.

Today, I’m at this historic location and happily travelling a little more gently, cocooned behind the wheel of the all-new, second-generation top-spec $404,950 (+ORC) Audi R8 plus.

Produced in a purpose-built factory and developed simultaneously with its GT3 race car sister, the R8 was recently crowned 2016 World Performance Car of the Year and is essentially hand made, with robotics accounting for only 25 percent of the build.

The fastest car to wear an Audi badge is a V10-powered road rocket that’s capable of (a governed!!) 330km/h in the right conditions.

But not today and not here.

Even standing still, the R8 plus captivates.

Its exquisite shorter, wider, tauter aluminium and carbon fibre body wraps state-of-the-art technologies, blinding performance and physics-defying cornering, into a sensory tingling driving experience, that ups the ante over its predecessor in every way.

Audi R8 Plus Review

Its heart is a ferocious 5.2 litre 449kW/560Nm V10, that sits centimetres behind my head. Brutal acceleration is accompanied by an ear-pleasing howl to its 8,700rpm redline, through its paddle shifted seven gears.

Zero to 100km/h is done in just 3.2 seconds, 200km/h nailed a mere 6.7 seconds later.

Like a race car, the R8 plus’ interior is driver-focused. Key information, from the configurable 3D graphic gauges are readable at a glance, with its key functions intuitively laid out on the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel, with paddle shifts. One option fitted was the Sport exhaust that is triggered by a button on the steering wheel to amplify the V10’s glorious note.

Audi R8 Plus Review

There are two fixed-back, body wrapping sports seats. And you need them, because the lateral grip and cornering forces of the R8 plus are epic.

Although the R8 is driver focused and race car inspired, the interior, like every Audi, is beautifully crafted, refined and loaded with creature comforts.

Soft touch surfaces complement the carbon fibre. And aluminium garnish highlights the otherwise grey and matte black fit out. There is a B&O sound system which I am sure is good, but I only listened to the music from that wonderful V10 engine. It also features head up display and to me the perfect driving position, seat low and upright, steering wheel set high.

Audi R8 Plus Review

Once on board I toggle through the drive four modes, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual – the final two featuring snow, dry and wet road settings.

It’s a unique and rather special feeling to be able to tailor a car in such a way, selecting my gauges and my individual drive mode.

Pulling back on the right paddle, a large ‘1’ appeared on the dash and as I gently push the throttle, its endless acceleration is remarkable.

Traipsing along the highway in Comfort mode, the R8 plus feels docile as I familiarise myself with the wealth of controls and modes at my finger tips, the R8 plus communicating every millimetre of road surface underneath me, in a firm but non-jarring manner.

Heading on to a back road that went left and right a lot with a few straights in between, I ditched Comfort mode and selected Individual to sharpen everything up even more.

Arriving at the first series of bends, the razor-sharp fluid steering, has the right level of weight and feel to let me position the R8 plus with pinpoint accuracy. The superb chassis provides oceans of cornering composure and a solid planted feel, that refuses to get unsettled. And its V10 catapults the R8 plus out of corners with astonishing force.

Audi R8 Plus Review

Earlier in the drive, I’d had a hint of this, and turning into the next series of bends it hit me.

The phenomenal lateral forces generated by the Quattro all-wheel-drive and super-grippy tyres were forcing my innards into my ribcage. The next set of corners, the same thing happened and the next and the next…..

This, more than anything, rammed home the brilliance of the R8 plus package, which shares 50% of its components with the LMS GT3 race car.

In fact, when behind the wheel of the R8 plus, it’s easy to imagine being surrounded by a roll cage in the GT3, cloaked in a helmet and race suit, rocketing along Mulsanne straight, the V10 bellowing hard against its 8,700rpm rev limiter as you battle for glory at Le Mans. Something that Audi is rather good at doing.

Audi R8 Plus Review

A final set of steep downhill switchbacks heading to Talbingo, to end the drive was icing on the cake.

Its immense power wailing up a V10 storm between corners, the carbon-ceramic brakes trying to pull my eyeballs out of their sockets, the seamless gear changes up and down the box, its tenacious grip and slot car cornering, assaulted my senses one last time.

Although Audi don’t mention it, I am sure at some point in the production process, they do drench the R8 plus in adrenalin.

Simply put, the Audi R8 plus ignites the soul.

It is one of the most complete and most exhilarating cars in Australia today.
Audi R8 Plus Review

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