You know how everything’s turning into electric SUVs? Not the R8. Not a bit of it.

THE AUDI R8 is a paradoxical supercar, one that brilliantly matches the irresponsibility of a screaming Lamborghini V10 with some 9-to-5 Teutonic dependability. This facelift brings the lightest of exterior tickles and an unchanged interior, but you do get a little more V10 magic. The regular 5.2 gains 33bhp for a total of 533bhp, and the Performance (formerly Plus) stretches by 10bhp to 612bhp, partly thanks to a valvetrain sprinkled with titanium. One engineer said the reality was closer to 650bhp.

Starting from £128,200, both versions are now available in Coupe and Spyder form.

All R8s are now good for 200mph minimum. On the Ascari racetrack, there’s no obvious performance leap, but this remains a viscerally accelerative machine – crisp of response, linear of delivery, and with a white-hot rush to 8250rpm.

The S-tronic transmission could mix a little more attitude into its fast but mostly glossy shifts, but the more expensive McLaren 570S can’t compete with this kind of excitement or responsiveness, and can’t match the Audi’s peak power output either.

The chassis is mildly fettled (springs and dampers unchanged), both the Standard and Dynamic steering is recalibrated and there’s an optional anti-roll bar in carbonfibre and aluminium, which saves 2kg and was fitted to all test cars. So too Cup 2 tyres, which may not come with UK cars.
Thus equipped, the R8 is blessed with traction and a neutral-to-understeery bias on full throttle, but with a hunger to turn and willingness to adjust its line off-throttle or under braking that comes with a tail-heavier mid-engined layout. It’s a secure but highly entertaining way to lap a circuit, though the lighter 570S is more tactile, nimbler too, and its turbos make it more forgiving when you’re in too high a gear.

No big changes, then, meaning the R8 remains the world’s most usable supercar. Enjoy its searing V10 while you still can.

AUDI R8 V10 PERFORMANCE

> Price £141,000 (est) > Engine 5204cc 40v V10, 612bhp @ 8000rpm, 428lb ft @ 6500rpm > Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive > Performance 3.1sec 0-62mph, 205mph, tbc mpg, tbc g/km CO2 (pending WLTP testing) > Weight 1735kg > On sale Early 2019 > Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
VERDICT
Fabulous mix of performance and usability

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