First, there was just the regular Audi R8 with its 420 horsepower V-8. Then there was the R8 V10 that came with two extra cylinders and 105 extra horses. Now there is another version, and it is set to top the range of R8s as Audi's flagship supercar gets a minor facelift for 2014. ┬áIn general, the new R8 weighs less and has new LED lights, but the most talked about change has to be replacing the old and widely criticized single-clutch automated manual with a new S tronic double-clutch seven-speed. Audi promises smoother, faster shifting that will put the R8 box on par with its competitors. Purists would go for the full manual with the open gate shifter, but sadly most supercars are doing away with the clutch pedal. But back to this "Plus" version.
Audi has squeezed 25 more horsepower from the mid-mounted 5.2 liter V-10, given it much stiffer suspension, and made ceramic brakes a standard feature. The 3,600 pound car will do the quarter mile in the mid-11 second range, get to sixty in 3.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 198 miles per hour. Supposedly, it's Audi's fastest ever accelerating road car, and a fine product from the company that has been dominating Le Mans for years and years.
Since the Audi R8 is already so well praised and since it's really just a beefed up version of the regular R8 V10, there's no doubt that it will be a truly great car. The suspension might be a tad rough for real world roads, though, and a price of over $180,000 (over $60,000 more than the base version) seems pretty steep, especially when you consider that the regular R8 V10 works just fine, is probably more usable day to day, and only has 25 less horsepower. Then there's the issue of the competition. The Nissan GT-R, the thorn in the German sports car paw, will more than compete with the Audi if fitted with the Premium package, and costs much less. And then there's always Porsche. The established name in that segment, Porsche has been outselling Audi with their 911, even though the R8 has surprised a lot of people by being as fantastic as it is. Maybe the dual-clutch gearbox will help its sales. Another thing the mid-engined Audi has going for it is looks. The angular, thoroughly modern styling is a refreshing break from the played out looks of the Porsche and the restrained bodywork of the GT-R. At the end of the day, any R8 is going to be a great choice, but for some only the newest and fastest and best will do. This is the R8 for them.