Competing with high-end sports cars for attainability and practicality, the R8 V10 Plus is a bona fide mid-engine supercar sister to Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4.
By Gaith Madadha
It is a tidier, sharper and more predatory interpretation of its predecessor’s design. And its new single-frame hexagonal honeycomb grille is broader, taller, and flanked by side inlets and sharp, squinting and browed LED headlights. Fin-like bonnet ridges and rising wheel-arches lend urgency, and are complemented by a low bonnet, forward-set cabin, arcing roofline and deeper, more sculpted side grooves feeding side air intakes and mid-mounted engine with air. Meanwhile, a level waistline and broad footprint emphasize Quattro four-wheel-drive in how the R8 ‘sits’.
The R8’s characteristic vertical carbon-fiber ‘sideblade’ intake covers are now divided horizontally by a long uninterrupted waistline–with hidden door handles–to emphasize its broad shoulders, flowing lines, and low ground hugging stance. Little changed in size and dimensions, the new R8 is however lighter and stiffer than its predecessor – with longer wheelbase – and incorporates of aluminum and more carbon-fiber in its spaceframe construction and body, including gloss finish carbon-fiber panels and rear wing for the top spec V10 Plus driven.
The R8 V10 Plus’ charismatic and driver-engaging 8700 rpm 5.2-liter V10 develops 602 BHP at 8250 rpm and 413 lb/ft at 6500 rpm. It rips through 0-100 km/h dash in 3.2 seconds or less, through 0-200 km/h in 9.9 seconds and onto 330 km/h. Its 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox is meanwhile seamlessly swift through gears in escalating shift modes, including steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter manual mode.
The V10 Plus pulls hard from idling through mid-range, and builds torque and power with urgently searing progression. Similarly responsive when revving or winding down, it provides exacting throttle control and intuitive driving, allowing one to dial in exact increments of power and intuitively finesse grip, slip and at the limit handling. Its soundtrack is a throaty, raspy and distinctly metallic staccato that crackles and hardens to an urgent bellowing and wailing as revs rise viciously.
Bolting from standstill with all wheels digging into tarmac, the V10 Plus is urgently indefatigable against wind resistance, and develops up to 140kg downforce at speed for stability and steering control. With rear-biased four-wheel-drive, low within-wheelbase weighting and direct, well-weighted electric-assisted steering, it is neutral and nimble through corners, with quick, crisp turn-in. Its optional adaptive magnetic dampers provide taut cornering body control and a supple and settled ride over straights and imperfections.
Driven with stability controls in less intrusive mode, the V10 Plus can obligingly but slightly kick out the rear to tighten a cornering line, as its four-wheel-drive and limited slip differential quickly redistribute more power frontward and along the rear axle to find traction and blast out onto a straight and the next corners. It is connected engaging through hill climbs, with tall rev-limit, highly responsive throttle control and chassis adjustability, and Lotus Evora-like nimbleness, Nissan GT-R-like road-holding and supercar performance.
The R8 V10 Plus is a more practical, attainable, and understated daily supercar that compares directly with its more exotic Lamborghini relation. However, where the R8 excels is in its accessible, luxurious, well-equipped and spacious cabin, with useable luggage room, generous headroom, and excellent visibility, including better rear visibility than some front-engine sports cars.
Engine: 5.2-liter, mid-mounted, dry sump, V10-cylinders
Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch
Driveline: Four-wheel-drive, limited-slip differential
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 413 (560) @6500 rpm
0-100 km/h: 3.2 seconds
Top speed: 330 km/h
Fuel consumption: 12.3 liters/100 km
Height: 1240 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Headroom: 977 mm
Luggage, boot / behind seats: 112-/226 liters
Suspension: Double wishbones, adaptive magnetic dampers
Brakes, F/R: Ventilated, perforated ceramic discs
Tires: 245/30ZR20 / 305/30ZR20