Fasten your seatbelt, push the red button to fire the engine—it growls. Slightly press the brake pedal, hold the steering wheel tight, feel the engine note.
Then, check out the road in front of you, engage the drive (D) mode, press the accelerator pedal, and wait for half a second.
After that, it’s mayhem.
In under a second, you will find yourself getting pushed back into the seat as the car shoots ahead like a fighter jet. The acceleration is so intense that you will feel everything around you is being fast-forwarded. In 3.2 seconds you cross the speed of 100kph, with the engine in no mood to relent. Till the time your brain starts to process what your eyes see, the car touches 200kph. A car faster than the speed of thought? Certainly not. But the R8 V10 Plus is definitely the fastest, most powerful production car Audi has ever made. We drive it at a befitting place—the Hosur Aerodrome near Bangalore.
The design is such that from every angle it appears it is made for racing. And why not? The R8 V10 Plus shares 50% of its parts with the mean racing machine R8 LMS, including the V10 engine and the Audi Space Frame (ASF)—the high-strength aluminium frame structure into which all panels are integrated so that they also perform a load-bearing function.
The benefits are exceptional rigidity, high crash protection, improved handling and low weight. The car’s side blades—two little black panels behind the doors—are done in gloss carbon shade. These, along with the trademark Singleframe radiator grille, low aerodynamic roof, LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels, provide it an unmistakable motor racing look.
The cabin is luxurious, sporty, functional, very racing-inspired. The steering wheel is a mini-computer and most needed controls—such as engine start-stop, driving dynamics, gear changes, exhaust note—can be operated with your thumbs. (In such a quick car, you obviously won’t have time to look around for controls.) It’s an expensive vehicle, so refined materials, precise workmanship and innovative technologies are a given. There are only two seats, crafted in fine Nappa leather with prominent side bolsters for lateral support, so even when you take sharp turns, your back remains glued to the seat. While the seat is powered for up and down function, for sliding it you have to settle with a traditional, manual lever.
The virtual cockpit, which is user-configurable, is a essentially a 31.24-cm screen which gets a high-resolution display. It looks straight out of a video game. Because it is a performance-focused car, you get information such as torque, power, oil and tyre temperatures, and even lap times on a race track. If that isn’t advanced enough, the R8 V10 Plus also shows the g-force the driver experiences as she corners, accelerates or brakes! While in a vehicle such as this the only music you would want to hear is tyre or engine sound, Audi has also given a Bang & Olufsen sound system for lesser mortals. For comfort, there is a deluxe automatic air conditioning with sun sensor.
Under its body—mind you, not under the hood—sits the high-revving 5.2-litre V10 engine that produces a peak power of 610bhp and a torque of 560Nm at 6,500 RPM. The top speed is an ‘illegal’ 330kph. Because of the engine’s position near the rear wheels, you get excellent traction.
Among other technologies, it gets one called ‘cylinder-on-demand’, using which the car shuts down five of the ten cylinders under partial load. For better fuel-efficiency—Audi claims the fuel-consumption is up to 13% lower than in the previous model—it uses coasting mode, start-stop system and dual fuel injection. Audi did not share its exact fuel-efficiency figure, but we believe it would be in the range of 10kpl under ‘normal’ driving conditions.
The gear-shift is lightning fast. It gets the famed S tronic gearbox, which has the shift-by-wire system—in this, transmission modes are engaged/changed through electronic controls without any mechanical linkage. You can also manually change gears by using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel.
The quattro all-wheel-drive mechanism ensures road-holding is impeccable. The quattro system constantly analyses tyre grip on various kinds of road conditions—such as gravel, water or ice—and automatically distributes power between the four wheels to where it is most needed.
A car this powerful has to be safe too. So you get eight airbags, ceramic brakes, electronic stabilisation control (ESC), tyre pressure loss indicator and more.
For Rs 2.55 crore, ex-showroom, Maharashra, the R8 V10 Plus is smartly priced. In performance it is close to Ferrari 488 GTB and Lamborghini Huracan, but both of these are far more expensive. And while the Porsche 911 might have attained a cult status, it doesn’t quite match the R8 V10 Plus in performance and/or exclusivity. Lastly, because it is an Audi, the R8 V10 Plus does enjoy the kind of after-sales support its competitors don’t. All one has to do is find roads to drive it. There are a few.
Audi showcases product strength; to launch ten new products in India in 2016
During the R8 V10 Plus drive review at the Hosur Aerodrome near Bangalore, Audi India also showcased the strength of its diverse product portfolio. The company, since it began Indian operations in 2007, has launched more than 40 products in the country, including sedans, SUVs and performance cars.
“Luxury, to us, is about choice, and our wide range of models has helped us in building an extremely strong foundation in India. We are looking forward to a sustained profitable growth as we complete a decade,” said Joe King, head, Audi India, adding, “Our focus is on the road ahead for the next ten years. We will be introducing products in new segments, with new body styles, new design language and new technologies to celebrate this success. We will also focus on strengthening our dealer network by introducing new customer touchpoints and innovative concepts like the Audi Mobile Terminal.”
He also announced that the company will launch at least ten new products in the country in 2016.