ROAD TEST: Audi R8 V10 Plus
I have a retired uncle who fancies himself as a bit of a car buff who used to regularly go to Kyalami in the old days, when Fords were king, Alfas were glorious racers and Audis were used mostly as sensible family transport.
This was in the days before the Quattros that so dominated the rally and track scene, and while my uncle likes to keep up with the latest motoring trends and acknowledges that Audi has some of the best cars on the road today, he still thinks they are a bit “sensible”, even though I’ve tried to convince him otherwise.
That changed a bit, though, when I arrived at my parents’ house for their 50th wedding anniversary and he first heard and then laid eyes on the Audi R8 V10 Plus. It’s one of the downsides of living in a Free State town – you don’t see magnificent engineering in motion very often.
To say it’s strikingly good to look at is like saying that Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t half bad on the eye.
It’s a supercar right up there with Porsche and Ferrari and surprisingly easy to live with as an everyday drive, so much so that you’re almost guaranteed to be stopped at any roadblock and asked whether you have been drinking because at R2.5 million, cops are thinking about very large wallets.
If you haven’t, then it’s as good a time as any to admire the vehicle.
First up, you’ll see the glass engine cover that displays the well-crafted V10 that pushes out 404kW and 540Nm, manages to get to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds (4.1s at Gauteng altitudes) and not too long after that, tops out at 317km/h.
So you understand that this is the quickest Audi on the road and that with the Quattro Drive, it takes all sorts of self-control not to behave like an idiot behind the wheel.
This R8 comes equipped with the seven-speed S tronic dual clutch gearbox that, given the quantity of power it’s expected to handle, is remarkably smooth when getting 1 520kg of German engineering with an aluminium space frame mobile or slowing it down. Slowing down? Yes, because every time it downshifts, the sound that emanates from the tailpipe in its sport mode is what got me stopped at the roadblock in the first place. Everywhere I drove, I was looking for a wall of sorts so that I could hear the sound reverberating. Fortunately, my neighbours have become very understanding over the years.
The standard carbon-fibre ceramic brakes also work a treat when Mr Plod jumps out in front of you to ask whether you’ve had a scotch or two too many.
Looking at it, you know it’s a fast car. It is a fantastic-looking vehicle with a high-gloss black single frame grille with chrome inserts, carbon fibre side blades on the flanks and side-mirror housings and enlarged front spoiler and diffuser. Inside it’s very much the same, with a 3D R8 logo, chrome finishes and some design tweaks on the needles and shift paddles. Oh yes, there’s even a bit of space behind the seats for a small bag, and under the bonnet a hole just big enough to fit a standard-sized coolbox.
TRACK DAY WARRIOR
Getting in and out isn’t as difficult as you may think, even with my frame it wasn’t such a schlep, but I would advise against short skirts. Push the start button and you’re greeted with a throaty welcome noise; clunk it in gear and gently drive down the road while the belly of the beast warms up behind you with reassuring gurgles, whines and clicks like only a well-tuned motor waiting to be driven hard can.
Because that’s essentially why they’re made; to not only look beautiful, but to do the business when pushed to just before the point of no return. Not something you’re likely to get right in everyday driving so, if it was me, track days would take care of most of my weekends.
Top-end speed is all fine, but it’s in the bends that you want to spend your time in the R8. It hugs them like a long-lost lover, always asking for more, and behind the wheel you’re more than willing to do so as you shift through the gears trying to push the envelope with a beautiful noise screaming behind you.
It’s a fantastic car every aspiring supercar owner should want, while the rest of us, well... we may just have to wait for that long-lost lover. -Saturday Star
Engine: V10, 5.2-litre petrol
Power: 404kW @ 8000rpm
Torque: 540Nm @ 6500rpm
0-100km/h (Gauteng) - 4.1 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 317km/h
Consumption (claimed): 13.3 l/100km
Price: R2 365 500
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km