2020’s been a crappy yr, however even amongst the home political turmoil and world pandemic-related disruption to regular life there have been the occasional shiny spots. Just like the lengthy weekend I spent with a $195,900 Audi R8 V10 efficiency Coupe quattro. Any day I get to drive one thing mid-engined is an efficient day, in spite of everything. Significantly when it is with the type of automobile that may not be with us that for much longer.

Our first style of the second-generation Audi supercar was again in 2017. Mechanically, the R8 V10 efficiency Coupe quattro is much like we found the R8 V10 plus back then. Its centerpiece is that naturally aspirated 5.2L V10, shared (as with a lot else beneath the pores and skin) with the Lamborghini Huracán. (Audi purchased Lamborghini again in 1998.) Hand-built in Hungary, the V10 generates 602hp (449kW) at a heady 8,100rpm, with a peak torque determine of 413lb-ft (560Nm) arriving at 6,700rpm. That will get despatched to all 4 wheels through a seven-speed twin clutch transmission, and within the case of the rear axle, through clutch-based torque-vectoring that takes the place of a standard differential.

Externally, the R8 has had a slight facelift. There are a couple of extra vents that enable cooling air to enter the automobile and some extra that assist it on its means out the again, however the tweaks are delicate.

Maybe the most important practical improve from an proprietor’s perspective has been the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the infotainment system. Unlike the Huracán, the R8 would not have a separate infotainment display, simply the 12.3-inch digital cockpit show in entrance of the motive force. And so it is right here that we discover the smartphone casting interface, which makes utilizing your telephone’s navigation a complete lot extra user-friendly than in most vehicles, the place it’s a must to look over to the middle stack to get your instructions.

The opposite notable tech improve is the addition of laser high-beam headlights. Developed first for Audi’s all-conquering Le Mans prototypes, the company had to wait several years earlier than the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration would enable them to be fitted to a US-market car. The beams would possibly nonetheless solely throw their gentle about half so far as European regulators enable, nevertheless it’s a major enchancment in comparison with conventional excessive beams, notably in case your evening imaginative and prescient is compromised by one thing like astigmatism.

In actual fact, I made good use of the laser lights. One thing in regards to the pandemic has had a jet lag-like impact on my sleep cycles, waking me usually effectively earlier than daybreak. Some may need discovered this annoying, however site visitors is the pure enemy of the supercar, and the roads are at their emptiest earlier than daybreak, so I have not minded an excessive amount of—at the very least when there was a enjoyable driver’s automobile parked outdoors.

And the R8 is a enjoyable driver’s automobile. As with most mid-engined equipment, from the motive force’s seat it offers you a sensation of being mounted on the pointy finish, the place you are being pushed alongside by the mass and energy of that engine behind you.

It is a extra civilized expertise than driving a Lamborghini Huracán. In consolation, with the transmission shifting for itself, it is a straightforward automobile to drive slowly, even. But it surely feels a bit too particular to press into service as an on a regular basis commuter automobile or grocery getter, and like most 600hp vehicles you will be fortunate to succeed in a double-digit MPG when driving it on the town. (The EPA charges the R8 at 16mpg (14.7l/100km) mixed.)

It additionally sounds much less raucous than the Huracán, though to those ears the naturally aspirated V10 nonetheless sounds orders of magnitude higher than any of the R8’s turbocharged rivals. It isn’t fairly F1-level—the redline is at 8,700rpm, not 19,000rpm—nevertheless it’s a beautiful howl nonetheless. (Sorry not sorry if I woke you up throughout one in every of my predawn drives.)

Whereas the R8 would not really feel fairly as on its toes because the Lamborghini (particularly the Huracán Evo model), that does not imply it feels inert or sluggish. In Dynamic mode, zero to 60mph takes 3.2 seconds, as quick as a McLaren F1 however extra user-friendly due to the paddle shifters and all-wheel drive. You possibly can break traction and wiggle its hips when you provoke it with an excessive amount of throttle throughout cornering. But it surely’s predictable and simple to catch, one thing you possibly can name up on demand moderately than a malign dealing with trait that retains you continuously on guard.

In 2017, I declared that the R8 was our decide of the junior supercars (assume 600hp and ~$200,000). Nothing about my time with the facelift R8 makes me assume that was fallacious—it has good practicality for a mid-engined supercar, and like its Italian cousin it sounds higher than the competitors, a consequence of naturally aspirating its engine.

Nonetheless, there is a motive that virtually each different producer has gone to pressured induction for his or her exotica. It is a lot simpler to satisfy fashionable emissions rules with a turbocharger, and they also actually will not make them like this for much longer.

Itemizing picture by Jonathan Gitlin

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