Supercars are generally defined by their engines and the Audi R8 is no different. The 5.2L V10 engine has been given some upgrades for the 2017 model year and the result is 540 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It's a combination that is good for a top speed of 199 mph. For those that absolutely must have a car capable of 200 mph, the V10 Plus model features a 610 hp version of the V10. Top speed is rated at 205 mph for the Plus model. All-wheel drive is standard across the entire lineup as is a 7-speed S-tronic gearbox. Audi estimates that the base version will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, or 3.2 seconds for the Plus version.
Keeping things in control are magnetic shock absorbers, which use magnets suspended in fluid to instantly adjust suspension firmness on the fly. Bumps can thusly be dealt with as they are encountered, with the kind of speed that would've been impossible several years ago. Magnetic shocks also allow the R8 to be driven in one of four different modes, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual, meaning that the right setting for the conditions and for the driver's mood can always be found.
The Audi R8 is a sports car first and foremost, but that doesn't mean that it's an awful place to be, in fact it actually makes for quite a comfortable long distance cruiser. Standard features include Audi's AudiConnect infotainment system, a 550 Watt Bang & Olufsen Sound system, a multifunction steering wheel, heated, 18-way power adjustable sports seats, an Alcantara headliner, leather seating and automatic climate control. Standard exterior features include 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, power folding exterior mirrors and a parking assist system with a rearview camera.
The V10 Plus is of course slightly more performance oriented, so it actually sacrifices the stereo in favor of a lighter 5-speaker system and adds carbon fiber seats and door sills for less weight and by extension, more speed. The V10 Plus also gets a special "performance mode" which will adjust the traction control and stability control to aid the driver during high speed driving around a race track.
I've been lucky enough to drive pretty much every iteration of the Audi R8 since it hit the scene more than a decade ago and all I can say is, it never gets old. Do I miss the original V8/manual coupe? Heck yeah I do. Is this 2020 Spyder V10 Performance model an absolute peach? Heck yeah it is.
The R8 got a few updates for 2020, most notably a few cosmetic changes that I hesitate to call upgrades. The little non-functional fangs on the sides of the fascia are styling for styling's sake and around back, the honeycomb mesh over the air outlets spans the full width of the car. I'm not really a fan of either tweak, but I will say I love the huge exhaust pipes and the black badges are cool, too. Design is obviously subjective and hey, people still stop and gawk at this thing when it drives by.
Audi's Virtual Cockpit tech is where you'll find all the infotainment functions and much like the R8 itself, VC is still a treat after all these years. Some people complain about the lack of a central multimedia screen in the dash, but that would kill the cockpit's design. You can manage Virtual Cockpit via buttons on the steering wheel, but there are redundant controls on the center console, so your passenger can still screw with your music choice even if they can't totally see the display.
The Good ~ Powerful, great-sounding V10 engine ~ Sharp handling chops ~ Easy to drive day to day ~ Virtual Cockpit tech is some of the best
The Bad ~ Styling tweaks don't improve the overall design ~ Lacks some driver-assistance features
The Bottom Line The Audi R8 supercar is as thrilling as its ever been.
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