Audi R8

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.

Editors' First Take

Strong winds are blowing sand and gravel across the tarmac at Circuito Maspalomas, turning this tricky track on the island of Gran Canaria into a slippery mess. These are definitely less-than-ideal conditions for a morning of supercar driving. And ironically, it's where Audi -- a company that built its reputation on the performance benefits of grippy all-wheel drive -- is launching its new rear-wheel-drive R8.

This isn't the first time Audi's offered a RWD R8. In 2018, Audi introduced the small-batch R8 RWS (for Rear-Wheel Series), limited to just 999 units globally, of which 320 came to the US. Now, the RWD R8 moves from contract work to full-time employment, enjoying a permanent position in Audi's supercar lineup. You can even get it in both coupe and convertible body styles. Awesome.

Mechanical changes for this rear-wheel-drive car are minimal, and none of them detract from the usual R8 excitement. Audi's 5.2-liter V10 is the star of the show, with predictably linear power delivery that makes you want to rev the bejesus out of this engine to eke out every ounce of oomph. This naturally aspirated V10 sounds freaking awesome, too, so bonus points to anyone who gets the R8 Spyder; drop the top, nail the throttle and enjoy that sonorous song.

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