R8? Undoubtedly a ground-breaking and game-changing car when it was introduced in 2006. Mid-engine V-8, great looking, plenty of power (in the low 400s), terrific handling – what more could you want? “More horses”, said some, to which Audi replied with a powerplant provided by its Italian cousin, Lamborghini, a V-10 with 525 prancers. “Almost enough”, said a few, and Audi thus spake again, punching up more ponies, now to 550. And that, my friend, is the V-10 Plus.
The V-10 Plus is available only in the hardtop coupe but what it may lack in al fresco joy it more than makes up for with sheer exhilaration and acceleration – zero to 62MPH in 3.5 seconds, a top speed of about 200MPH.
“Mine” was liveried in what some would call a frozen color (Audi calls it Sepang Blue), a matte-blue that was quite striking. Not that you need a special color to draw attention to a car with this design and that exhaust note. Audi may be less in-your-face than Lamborghini but it is not a staid brand. Any doubts – hit the sport mode and stomp the pedal and the sound is wondrous! And that aural aria is matched by the speed with which it departs from view.
It’s a low car, by most standards, but once in, it feels like a glove designed just for your hand. The controls are easy to reach, the operation very intuitive and yet, it can idle quietly and then go like hell. It handles wonderfully, too, thanks in no small part to its very low center of gravity, wide stance, great suspension, a light body (all-aluminum), fat tires and a somewhat slippery shape (the coefficient of drag – or “CD” – isn’t that impressive but the design does help provide a lot of downforce). This was a car built for the road but the Formula One engineering cues abound.
The low height of the car adds another pleasure – easy visibility of the engine bay, which is a pleasant-under-glass affair that is surrounded by carbon fiber and even has some LED lights to provide illumination for its close-up. But the engine location is not just for looks. Having the engine mid-ship, behind the driver and ahead of the rear wheels, provides for superb handling as the weight distribution makes this car extremely well-balanced.
To some, fast cars have to be loud, probably bright red and breathe fire. But those who had the good-fortune (some would say temerity) to go for a spin with me still are struggling to control their utter joy, having experienced what may be considered a challenge to at least one of Newton’s laws. As it was published in the mid-1600s, we can forgive Sir Isaac — a body at rest won’t tend to stay at rest long if it’s in an R8.