2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus
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  • 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus
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Vital Stats

Engine:
5.2L V10
Power:
550 HP / 398 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
3.5 Seconds (62 MPH)
Top Speed:
198 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Seating:
2
MPG:
12 CTY / HWY (est.)
Refreshed Icon Is An Alpine Star



When it comes to something as inherently outrageous as the supercar segment, you might think that it would never really need shaking up. But that's not the case – every once in a while, you have to have something that reorders the breed – a goalpost mover like the McLaren F1 or a Bugatti Veyron. Or you need to have challengers to the establishment on other fronts, be it styling or powertrain technology. Sometimes, just the presence of a new marque is enough of a disruptor to put everyone on guard.

And that's what exactly happened with the original R8. Not only did it introduce a new player into the segment, Audi, it did so with iconoclastic styling and a new approach. In a way that only the Acura NSX did before it, the R8 rationalized the supercar. That might not be an inherently sexy concept, but as Honda proved, it can make for a great car, not to mention good business. Like the NSX, the R8 availed the segment of newfound levels of tractability and refinement in a mid-engined package, with docile around-town manners, surprisingly good visibility and a robust, ergonomic interior to go with its impressive performance. What's more, it did so with all-wheel drive, making it something of a supercar for all seasons.

All of which explains how we ended up caning a suite of 2014 R8 coupes and Spyders up, over, down and through the Tyrolean Alps. In the pitch dark. With nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Usually, you'd never take something as low-slung and powerful as this out in inclement weather, let alone over a mountain range where the slick-surfaced asphalt ribbons like lightly salted linguine. And yet, there we were, in sub-zero temps, savaging hostile climbs and descents at high speeds, snaking our Germans through skiing villages and meandering tunnels. But our Audis seems utterly oblivious to the absurdity of the situation, their high-revving engines rattling snowpack loose from the conifers that lined our route, swank new LED lighting piercing the night's inky cloak.

Audi had thoughtfully fitted our entire alpine expedition with Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D footwear, and combined with the R8's Quattro all-wheel drive, our R8s pulled hard out of the corners like a pack of sled dogs mainlining Red Bull. Only the tightest of switchbacks caused split-second moments of consternation, wherein we could feel Quattro shuffling torque around between our car's four corners. It was a legitimately awe-inspiring performance – and we were "only" in the base V8 coupe with its 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque.
2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus side view2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus front view2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus rear view

"Dynamic turn signals" run LEDs in a sequential swipe, not unlike newer Mustangs, but more seamlessly.

Over the course of several days of driving, we would find the measure of the entire aluminum-chassis'd R8 portfolio, sampling not just the eight-cylinder, but also the open-topped V10 Spyder and the new-for-2014 range-topping V10 Plus seen here, powering over 1,000+ kilometers through Germany, Austria and Italy on all manner of roads, from alpine to Autostrada, plus some track time at the Misano World Circuit – mercifully not on snow tires.

On the aesthetics front, there wasn't much that needed addressing, so the most obvious changes for 2014 are the R8's new light fixtures. All-LED units front and rear catch the eye whether illuminated or not, with their most notable feature being a "dynamic turn signal" function that runs an amber bar of 30 LEDs in a sequential swipe from the inside of the car out, not completely unlike newer Ford Mustang models, but far more seamlessly. It may sound a bit gimmicky, but it looks fantastic enough that we expect this sort of thing to spread across Audi's lineup. Other changes include a modestly reworked front bumper and a tapered-corner single-frame grille, and out back, there's a freshened valance with a pair of oversized round integrated exhaust outlets. By and large, the R8's form looks the same as it ever was, which is to say sensational.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus headlight2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus front spoiler2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus wheel2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus rear fender

The old Lamborghini-derived R-Tronic single-clutch gearbox left a lot on the table in terms of refinement.

The same can be said for the interior, which receives minor changes including some improved switchgear and "even more precisely designed" instrument needles. Yes, really. The most noticeable change is the availability of quilted leather and a matching Alcantara headliner. Sadly, the R8 does not receive Audi's latest MMI interface with its Google 3D Maps and touchpad, and in fact, we experienced two incidents in two different vehicles where the system failed to orient properly. All-in, however, this is still one of the best-tailored and most usable interiors in the segment.

One area that did need serious improvement was the optional two-pedal setup. The standard six-speed manual has been very satisfying since the R8's launch, but the old Lamborghini-derived R-Tronic single-clutch gearbox left a lot on the table in terms of refinement. If you were piling along at 9/10ths on a circuit, its rapidity and assertiveness could be an asset, but the transmission's often herky-jerky around-town comportment scarred what otherwise was a viceless experience.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus interior2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus seats2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus gauges2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus sill plate

Audi has binned the R-Tronic in favor of a new S-Tronic twin-clutch unit, and it's the single biggest improvement in this new generation.

For 2014, Audi has binned the R-Tronic in favor of a new S-Tronic twin-clutch unit, and it's the single biggest improvement in this new generation. Oh, the gear lever for the S-Tronic remains a bit fiddly (the forward-to-upshift scheme still feels backwards, and putting the car in Neutral before shutting it off still feels strange), but not only does this new unit pick up an extra cog (seven in all), it's more expedient, smoother and better-behaved than the old unit. Blink-quick swaps are paddleshift pull away, with downshifts accompanied by a nice rev-matched throttle blip. You can even block shift, changing down from seventh to fifth in one go (just squeeze the redesigned, larger and better-feeling paddle twice) for maximum passing power. Unsurprisingly, the new setup makes for a quicker car, with 0-62 miles per hour falling to 4.3 seconds in the V8 – 0.3 seconds quicker than the old unit. The three-shaft unit is actually over six inches shorter than the R Tronic, but it's slightly heavier while being more efficient.

Ultimately, we prefer the stainless-gated clack of the six-speed manual for maximum driver involvement, but this is still an engaging setup and one of the best dual-clutch units on the market. The only time we caught it out was the occasional low road- and engine-speed 'thunk' upon manually downshifting when the transmission was in Sport mode, as when coming to a stop.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus paddle shifter2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus shifter2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus sport mode button

We prefer the lines of the coupe, as the convertible's deletion of the side blade makes the design somewhat more ordinary.

To be fair, the R8 didn't really earn its supercar wings until the Gallardo-sourced 5.2-liter V10 came along in 2009, bringing with it a full 525 hp and 391 lb-ft. In this latest generation, the V10 Coupe comes standard with the S-Tronic 'box for the most rapid progress – 3.6 seconds 0-62 – but the manual is optional, carrying with it a 0.3-second penalty. The S-Tronic Coupe tops out at 195 mph, while Audi says the manual will earn an extra mph for bragging rights.

Opt for the V10 convertible and the figures are 3.8 seconds (S-Tronic) and 4.1 (manual), while top speed takes but a single mph haircut for either transmission compared to the coupe. That's a commendably small penalty for the joy of droptop motoring – especially when it lets you better hear the V10 shrieking its lungs out at 8,700 rpm. Even so, we prefer the lines of the coupe, as the convertible's deletion of the side blade not only makes the design somewhat more ordinary, it also makes the wheelbase look a bit too long.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus engine

Get it right in a corner and the R8 rewards with the neutrality of Switzerland – you can even hang the tail out.

All-wheel drive can leave cars feeling somewhat reluctant to change direction, but the R8 remains game. Yes, there's still the same safe-as-houses veneer of initial understeer if you enter a corner too hot or try to get on the power too soon, but get it right and the R8 rewards with the neutrality of Switzerland. You can even hang its tail out if you let the e-nannies off their leash a bit. With a default power delivery of 85-percent rear and 15-percent up front combined with mid-engined packaging, the R8 never feels nose-heavy or sloppy, and steering feel from the hydraulic system is very good. The brakes are likewise confidence-inspiring, whether going with the base steel setup (eight piston front, two-piston rear with new "wave-shaped" rotors that shave 4.4 pounds of unsprung mass) or the optional carbon-ceramic setup that shaves a further 26.5 pounds over the standard steel bits.

Despite its aluminum and magnesium-intensive construction, the R8 still isn't a bantamweight – the base V8 Coupe tips the scales at nearly 3,440 pounds. That's pretty light all things considered, but it's still over 350 pounds more than a 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4, for instance. To be fair, the Porsche is also a lot less powerful and comes with less standard equipment, but the difference is worth pointing out.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus driving2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus driving

V10 Plus throttle response hits you in the back like you've been thwacked with Zeus' bowling ball. Thanks, natural aspiration!

That's where the new hardcore V10 Plus comes in. Picking up where last year's R8 GT left off and available only in coupe format, the Plus gets the lead out, purging superfluous sound insulation and substituting thinner carpets, lighter and larger forged alloys in a dark finish, a specially tuned suspension similar to that of the GT (brooming the heavier adaptive magnetic ride control setup that comes standard on other V10 models), a bunch more carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts and standard ceramic brakes. Those changes add up to a 110-pound weight savings in Euro trim, which also includes special lightweight seats that won't make the trip Stateside (no airbags). The V10 has been retuned as well, and it now delivers 550 horses and 398 lb-ft – enough, Audi says, to shave the run to 62 mph to 3.5 seconds and push top speed to 198 mph. About the 3.5-second thing – it's got to be quicker than that. Even without summoning launch control mode, the throttle response hits you in the back from a standstill like you've been thwacked with Zeus' bowling ball. Thanks, natural aspiration!

Driving the Plus back-to-back with the standard V10 on the street reconfirms that it's more visceral in every dimension – it's louder in the best way possible, it's quicker, and it handles more keenly. It's also more visceral in terms of ride quality – over the region's good-quality roads, we didn't mind its firmer comportment, but we're guessing that the less-flattering surfaces that pave America will erode some of the R8's legendary daily drivability. It's not as out-and-out circuit-focused as the departing R8 GT, but it's not that far off, either.

2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus rear 3/4 view

The R8 offers marrow-deep excellence in everything from daily use supercar to droptop to track day hero.

And therein lies the rub. The V10 R8 Plus is a serious treat to drive hard on a track or an empty mountain road, but its sharper edges will probably see it parked in owners' heated garages more often than a standard R8 might. Lesser V8 and V10 models are obedient enough that enthusiast owners can – and do – use them every day, like a more focused, less profligate BMW M6.

Audi hasn't released pricing yet, but we suspect 2014's numbers will look similar to the outgoing range when new models start showing up in US showrooms this March. That means about $115k on the shallow end (manual V8) and $150k for the V10 (which accounts for roughly two out of every three sales), with Spyder variants commanding a further $15k or so. The V10 Plus? We're ballparking $185k.

What all of this means is that now more than ever, the R8 is a proper soup-to-nuts flagship, offering marrow-deep excellence in everything from a daily-use supercar to a stylish droptop to a track day hero. More importantly, Audi has exorcised the R8's Achilles heel with a much-needed gearbox transplant... and that's really the only improvement we could ever ask for.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      Devin
      • 2 Years Ago
      So is Audi not allowing a video of the car or did you really mention the seamless dynamic turn signals without providing us with a demonstration? That seems like the typical thing for a shortcut video!
      CadiVetteFerrari
      • 2 Years Ago
      On MT, they said the dual-clutch manual is in the same category as those from the GT-R, 458, and 911. Interesting that the review here has some constructive criticism for Audi's new double clutch. Having said that, if I were in the market for a German supercar, this would be near the top of the list.
      Shopia Magdalena
      • 20 Days Ago
      The 2016 Audi R8 is successor to Audi’s current critically acclaimed supercar. Like its predecessor, the upcoming car will utilise a Lamborghini platform, here based on the one seen on the Huracan LP 610-4. It’ll be a lighter proposition as well.


      Ak74
      • 2 Years Ago
      Get a GTR for the half of the price and run circles around this POS Audi/VW. Even Tesla S is faster than this over priced VW.
        Trevor
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        In what way is the tesla model S faster?........ 0-60? NOPE....... Nurburgring? HELL NO. Bmw fan boy is still angry that the tesla model S beat the M5 in different categories.
        Olen Blount
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        So let me ask you this: If you could have (for free) either the Audi R8 V10 Plus or the Nissan GT-R, you would want the Nissan?
        BK
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        Yes, it's a VW. Any other bits of wisdom you can bestow upon us? We would be honored.
          BK
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BK
          Since you must have some intimate knowledge f the construction of the R8, please tell us all which parts from the VW bin are used here. I could swear I saw the Beetle dashboard flower base holder in the R8 last time I was in my Audi dealer. Am I missing anything else that makes this a VW? Does the Jetta have carbon fiber side blades?
        Riley C.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        Get a Shelby and it will beat all of those.
        Worx2749
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ak74
        I was thinking the same thing just before looking at your comment. The Audi IS better looking, IMHO, but I don't dislike the GT-R's looks as much as some.
          Worx2749
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Worx2749
          You could get a Tesla AND a GTR for nearly the cost of this Audi.
      Toronto St. Pats
      • 2 Years Ago
      Man this car is ugly...I think even uglier than before. Germans aren't very good at design. It looks like someone tried to make a super-car out of the VW Bug.
        Klep
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Toronto St. Pats
        Everything about your comment is incorrect.
        superchan7
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Toronto St. Pats
        Apparently cars like the R8 appeal to a wide audience. That's kind of why it has been featured in movies.
          pinsimms99
          • 2 Years Ago
          @superchan7
          You can mark me down as an Android fanboy that loves this car.
          Toronto St. Pats
          • 2 Years Ago
          @superchan7
          It appeals to cafe-latte sipping Apple fanboy elitists, just like the type that make movies these days. That's why it has been featured in movies. Audi overall seems to be favoured by the Apple crowd. Get your opinion and don't be swayed by what others say.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Toronto St. Pats
        you just made a fool out of yourself
        BK
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Toronto St. Pats
        I assume by design you mean "styling". I don't think the German look to design like the Italians or Brits. There is certainly something to be said for putting function first in Germany, but I agree that German styling won't take your breath away like Pininfarina or Aston designs. Certainly more conservative- just look at their respective governments and economies for how Germans think vs Italians! LOL.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          BK
          • 2 Years Ago
          I will ask again- is there any automobile that ISN'T a POS in your world? Audi really hit a homer with the R8 as its first foray into super car world. Only other example I can think of that was this good in its intro cycle was the GT-R, but you could argue it wasn't new given the earlier Japan-only R models.
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        They main problem with the Porsche is that you would eventually have to look at it from the outside and then the uncontrollable vomiting would begin.
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      Scooter
      • 2 Years Ago
      Haha, so many people disagree with me, but come on, this car is like a "Butter face" super model. Shes got the legs, but the face is borderline funkaay.
      Scooter
      • 2 Years Ago
      The R8 engine purr is awesome, but the car itself is really ugly. The front bumper has always reminded me of the Aliens from the movie "Alien".
      Klep
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's said about many cars, but pictures really don't do the R8 justice. Seeing one on the road shows how impressive its proportions are. (Baby got back.) I have always loved the R8, and this one is clearly the most menacing example to date. This is as loud as Audio design gets, and I love it.
        RR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Klep
        Totally agree. You have to see it in person. Better yet drive it in person. I test drove one to see what it was like and would have got it if I hadn't already signed 2 loans for sports cars... One of my loans is for a Carrera. Not sure why one reader said the Porsche will retain its value much better. I have been monitoring the prices of used R8s and they drop very slowly. Based on my (unscientific) observations the more rare R8 holds its value better. Plus Audi gives you a lot more options standard than Porsche does.
        Klep
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Klep
        Fsck, *AUDI* design, not audio, obviously. Damn muscle memory...
      vedi123
      • 2 Years Ago
      i woudn`t change a single bit on that car. blue color perfect black wheels perfect black exhaust perfect
      Klep
      • 2 Years Ago
      Calling this ugly is just admitting you have no sense of beauty.
        Toronto St. Pats
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Klep
        I called it ugly and got flamed. That's fine...if you like it, you like it. I think it looks certainly looks unique and recognizable ...even modern (iPhone; iPad) and that's a feat in itself. But you can't tell me this is beautiful. Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin make beautiful cars. Heck even Porsche. But this is IMO hideous. Oddly disproportionate and irregular front styling coupled with very forgettable rear styling and a two-tone mess in between...it's just terrible. May appeal to the iPhone crowd or hipsters...but don't tell me this is beautiful.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Klep
        [blocked]
      Riley C.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yet the 2013 Shelby is still faster. Audi has it on handling though.
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