2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus review
The 5.2-litre V10 engine has been tuned to produce 542bhp, an increase of 24bhp, which helps slash the 0-62mph sprint time by four tenths to just 3.5 seconds.
This new range-topping R8 isn't just about straight-line speed, though. The Plus has lowered suspension and comes with ceramic brakes as standard, which have the dual benefit of enhancing stopping ability and cutting weight.
Other weight-saving measures include the use of carbonfibre parts and lightweight sports seats.
What's the 2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus like to drive?
Our test car was fitted with the new optional S tronic semi-automatic gearbox, which recently replaced the jerky and slow-witted R tronic 'box.
The S tronic is considerably better than the standard manual gearbox because it allows you to change gear faster and keep your hands on the wheel while doing so. What's more, the shift paddles behind the steering wheel add to the sense of occasion.
The Plus is faster than a regular R8 V10, but you'd have to be something of a connoisseur to notice this. However, like the standard V10 model, the 5.2-litre engine likes to rev hard and makes a fantastic noise on full throttle.
Like all R8s, the Plus is fabulously easy to drive fast. That stiffer suspension means there's a little less suppleness to the ride, but it never feels uncomfortable.
The Audi is ludicrously grippy even on slippery surfaces, although it can't quite match a Porsche 911 – or more exotic models such as the Ferrari 458 – for agility. This is as noticeable at town speeds as it is when threading down a twisty B-road.
What's the 2013 Audi R8 V10 Plus like inside?
Those lightweight bucket seats are supremely comfortable and supportive, but they're all that separate the Plus's cabin from any other R8's.
In truth, the Audi's cabin is starting to show its age. The driving position and visibility are as competitive as ever – as is the high-quality feel to the fixtures and fittings – but the switchgear no longer seems state of the art. The infotainment system, for example, is a generation out of date – it's less user-friendly than those in much cheaper Audis, such as the new A3.
Should I buy one?
The Plus costs £12,000 more than the regular R8 V10 and doesn't feel that much more special to drive or to be in. Unless you simply must have the ultimate R8, then the Plus is hard to justify – especially when harder-charging Porsche 911s are on the horizon and the recently fettled Lamborghini Gallardo is already here.
For those reasons we'd stick with the regular V10 model, or even the much cheaper V8-engined car.
What Car? says...
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
Engine size 5.2-litre V10 S tronic
Price from £127,575
Torque 398lb ft
Top speed 197mph
Fuel economy 21.9mpg
By Chas Hallett