Under the skin, the Audi R8 borrows a few bits and pieces from Lamborghini's outgoing Gallardo, making this car a legitimate supercar–with a few of the German's milder manners.
New for last year is the V10 Plus model, which increases power from the 5.2-liter V-10 to 550 horsepower, improving Audi's claimed 0-60 mph time to 3.5 seconds. Top speed is about 197 mph. In addition to the extra performance, Audi treats the V10 Plus to some weight loss, shaving 110 pounds from the standard R8 V10 Coupe, tipping the scales at 3,461 pounds--just 22 pounds heavier than the base R8. That, along with the tuned suspension and quattro all-wheel drive, and in S Tronic-equipped models, Audi's expert programming, the V10 Plus is truly capable, and fun, on track.
A six-speed manual is still available, of course, and Audi expects to sell a substantial number of them in spite of the dual-clutch's upgrade to the previous automatic. Also carrying forward into the 2015 model year are the R8 and R8 V10 models, in both Coupe and Spyder form. The V-8 engine is lightly revamped, with R8 models getting a 10-horsepower boost to 430-horsepower from the 4.2-liter V-8. The V-10 engine carries forward with the same 525-horsepower rating from its 5.2-liter V-10 as last year.
Both V-8 and V-10 are about a tenth of a second quicker to 60 mph than the previous R8, hitting 60 mph in 4.3 and 3.6 seconds, respectively, but the V-8 lacks some low-end torque, and the V-10 is really only sonorous when wound up well into the tachometer. Not that you'll mind doing so.
Capable and smooth on the street, without any of the herky-jerky of semi-automatic manuals, the R8's dual-clutch transmission really comes alive in sport mode, especially when done on the track. Seemingly predicting downshifts and delivering seamless power as the gears rise, the R8's new transmission is brilliant.
All of Audi's R8s share that innate balance and most of the tuning, and they all feel like it, whether on track or a winding mountain road.