DRIVEN: Audi R8 V10 DMS
Audi has long satisfied our craving for speed and fast cars, be it on the road or on the track. This sporting intent has been present in road form since the 90’s, when the range of “S” and “RS” models began. The one that started the current range was the street-sleeping S2, in 1990, followed by the legendary RS2, which was fettled with by Porsche and launched in 1994.
On the racing grid, after a number of successful years on the track in rallying and touring cars, Audi set its sights on Le-Mans in 1997. They developed a new car, specifically designed for endurance racing called the R8R. The car had some success, but didn’t attain a first-place finish. It was redeveloped into the “R8” model in 2000, a car subsequently hailed as one of the most successful racing cars ever, winning 5 out of its 7 24-hour Le Mans races.
The R8 name was introduced to the public highways in 2006, although its resemblance to the Le-Mans racer is in name only. It is actually based on the R8 Le-Mans Quattro concept car.
Today, the top R8 model sports a V10 engine and R8 roars in with 525bhp V10 engine of sublime automotive goodness. And I’ve got one to play with! All R8’s come complete with those signature daytime running lights that started the LED trend. On pressing the remote fob to open the door, the R8’s face wakes up with mean eyes and scowls at you with the ice white DRL’s. I have a real love-hate relationship with these LED lights. They really do look uber-cool, but in doing so they are so unforgivingly self-assured that they make me cringe. Or maybe I just hate myself for liking the Audi bling-bling. But enough of my personal demons…
Climbing aboard, the first thing that you notice is the quality feel of the materials. The leather steering wheel feels expensive and the dashboard looks impressive, with a TV screen in the centre of the dashboard and an ‘iDrive’ style control system. Most of the electronic gadgetry is controlled from here including the radio, phone, Sat Nav and driver information systems such as service intervals, oil checks and the like.
The R8’s seating position is – as you’d expect – more of a racer affair, sitting long and low. As you nestle into those expensive cream leather sports seats, starting the engine and the growl is immense. Pressing the loud pedal briefly and you get a short-sharp howl that will have you grinning like a cat maxing out on its Cheshireness.
A friend, Mark owns the R8 and as standard it develops 525hp. Not content with Audi’s colossal power efforts, Mark has had a DMS remap on the car, hiking the power to an eye-watering 585bhp. So what is it like to drive? Well, immense is probably a good word. The gated gearbox takes a bit of getting used to, but when you get it, it really feels like the supercar that it is. Those manual gear changes are extremely satisfying, as you feel the mechanicals working for your pleasure as you clunk another cog down, out of a bend and power on down the straight. Two seats, mid-engined, perfectly balanced and bags of power. And the noise. Oh the noise! A wonderful driver’s machine. This extraordinary power can also be tamed and the R8 will happily tootle in traffic or at low speeds without issue.
In summary, the R8 is a rapid, joyous weekend toy and a lot of fun! Recommended.
And here it is, barking its head off… 🙂