New Audi R8 now in SA

5 April, 2013 | by Lance Branquinho

The most important car Audi’s built since the Ur-Quattro is now available with a proper transmission. Blunt statement, but undeniably true.

Embarrassing BMW 6 Series owners since 2007, Audi’s R8 has been an epic brand equity multiplier for VW’s premium division. Striking styling, aviation build-quality and an engine line-up of pure, naturally-aspirated V8 and V10s combine to delivery supercar performance without the usual tax-evasion stereotypes.

The new range of R8s feature even more ornate LEDs front and rear  – and we know Audi designers love light emitting diode art – with the facelift also tallying a new bumper with re-sculptured air intakes. Crucially, R8’s design harmony remains very much undiluted, rendering that Lamborghini-Gallardo-that-went-to-finishing-school look perfectly.

DUAL-CLUTCH, FINALLY

All told, nothing much has change from the original R8 with this 2013 facelift.

Engines remain 4.2 V8 (316kW) and 5.2-litre V10, the bent-ten available in either 386- or slightly swifter 404kW Plus configuration.

There is one rather important technical upgrade that is being introduced with 2013 R8: its transmission. Henceforth all R8s will be available as seven-speed S tronics – and that’s a good thing, a very good thing.

Audi’s dual-clutch transmissions are fantastic: docile and seamless when you’re in traffic or trying to park, yet sniper-rifle bolt action accurate when pushing along at anything beyond 8/10ths. Gone, forever, is the hateful six-speed automated manual Audi called R tronic.

If you never got to drive R8 in R tronic configuration, considering yourself lucky. It was maddeningly laggy at low speeds and pity your embarrassment if you tried to three-point turn or park it. How onlookers laughed at you as that V10 revved and nor first or reverse would engage. At all. Well, that’s all been redressed with the S tronic option now. Praise be to Audi’s product planners.

That said, performance gains with the new transmission are incremental. R8 4.2 runs 0-100kph in 4.3 secs (topping out at 300kph), whilst the V10’s good for 0-100kph in either 3.6- or 3.5 secs for the 404kW Plus. And yes: we think naming your headline performance model Plus is a tad, well, strange. Perhaps something has gone lost in translation from German. That aside, these R8s are all going to be that much more dynamically engaging to drive with dual-clutch transmissions.

Standard kit for the new cars include Audi’s navigation and infotainment systems, 19-inch wheels, park distance control fore and aft and Bluetooth device convergence. If you purchase one of the V10 R8s, they’ll install one of those operatic quality Bang&Olufsen sound systems too, which is nice.

So, if you wish to join the ranks of those 255 South African who have taken ownership of an R8 since 2007, you’ll need at least R1.5m idling in one of your current accounts. Not bad considering the supercar drama you get as a no-cost option.

 Pricing:

Audi R8 Coupé V8: R1 529 000

Audi R8 Spyder V8: R1 685 500

Audi R8 Coupé V10: R2 037 500

Audi R8 Spyder V10: R2 194 000

Audi R8 Coupé V10 plus: R2 319 000

     

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