Audi invited Auto Express to the Ascari circuit in Spain to get a ride in the new R8 that will be introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Jack Rix starts by giving us a walkaround of the camouflage-covered coupe, the obvious difference between it and the leaked image from a couple of weeks ago being the slatted front intakes. However, those intakes are present on the image Audi teased showing off one new, slimmer, laser headlight.

The biggest shock: there will be no V8 model at launch - there will be one engine in two levels of tune. The first is the 5.2-liter R8 V10 with 540 horsepower, a bump of 15 hp over the present car. The second is the 5.2-liter R8 V10 Plus with 610 hp, a leap of 60 hp over the current model. That hotter trim, identified by its fixed rear wing, drops the 0-60 mile per hour time by a half-second to 3.2 seconds, and increases top speed seven miles per hour to 205 mph.

Rix ran his fingers along the intakes behind the door and said he could feel sideblades, so all is not lost - what would an R8 be without sideblades? More obviously, on the V10 Plus Rix looked over there are new trapezoidal exhaust tips framing a serious diffuser in back. Underneath, the aluminum chassis adapted from the Lamborghini Huracan is 15 percent lighter than before and 40 percent stiffer. Shifting will be done via a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission only. There are seven driving modes, a switchable exhaust note, and more direct variable steering. The German test driver Rix rode with said the new R8 is easier to drive faster, which - no matter what you think of the looks - will make it pretty special.

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