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Audi R8 V10 Performance sings into 6th place at MOTOR's 2021 PCOTY

By Curt Dupriez, 15 Mar 2021 Performance COTY

Audi R8 V10 Performance sings into 6th place at MOTOR's 2021 PCOTY

Tried and true recipe delivers 10-cylinder main course

It’s been eight long years since the all-paw Audi R8 V10 Plus won PCOTY 2013 and just two years since the RWS, the first rear-driven version, nabbed fourth in 2019. And yet here sits the revised, quicker, more potent, lavish and harder-focused R8 V10 Performance... in sixth place.

The R8 V10 Performance could well prove to be the fittest and finest example of Audi’s endearing supercar now in the dimming twilight of its providence. Its leather-dipped, laser-lit, carbon-ceramic-amended features list smacks of the ultimate of its breed, even before you factor in the power rise or weight management leaving it surprisingly no porkier than its less-opulent RWD twin.

At $395,000, the want-for-little quattro Performance arguably stacks enough spec and shaves enough tenths to justify the $100k step-up over the rear-driven version. If your primary lures are its iconic V10 soul and x-factor, the Performance top dog can begin to look a bit excessive.

The tree-topping R8 is less the 911 Carrera-chasing supercar-on-a-relative-budget, primarily luring you on charm and vibe, and more the weapons-grade 911 Turbo S and Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro challenger that, by way of the PCOTY filter, it needs to measure up big time on pace.

Quick? You bet. Who would’ve wagered good old natural aspiration – 10 cylinders or not – would’ve netted the field’s second-quickest 0-100km/h result of 3.27sec?

The flat delivery of its intoxicating V10 powertrain marries beautifully with a chassis that transforms from benignly friendly on road to lithe and keenly agile on track. The party trick is that it’s both friendly and frisky, keen in direction change and surprisingly eager to break traction exiting an apex, if without the knife-edged transitions of last year’s tyre-frying RWS version.

The 2021 field’s liveliest circuit carver is perhaps the most dynamically adept R8 yet. Thing is, its playfulness as a fine and desirable virtue does impact pace and contributes to its 2.8-second and 3.4-second deficits in lap time to the Turbo S and GT R Pro respectively.

In the Performance, Audi has honed the R8 into an effective and fun driver’s machine while maintaining its hallmark liveability. But while it’s as fit as ever, it’s also almost too familiar and largely bereft of surprise.

Its maker has crafted a slightly all-round nicer and more polished table without bringing much tangibly new to it.

Everything about the R8 centres around its V10 mojo that, from hard-revving headiness to rose-tinged nostalgia, delivers as expected.

It’s not really its mature powertrain that anchored R8’s showing in this year’s PCOTY, but more that it lacked dominance anywhere in a package that doesn’t bring much genuinely new or different to the performance car landscape. – CD

THE NUMBERS

0-100km/h: 3.27 sec
0-400m: 11.11 sec @ 205.41km/h
Lap Time: 1:32.9

JUDGE'S RANK

Butler 6th
A supercar that stuns but never scares

Cordony =5th
Surprisingly benign, sounds awesome and still looks like it’s coming out next year

Dupriez 6th
Rose-tinged V10 goodness in Audi’s fittest supercar yet. But its excess lacks the sense of its thriftier RWD kin

Enright =4th
Has there ever been a mid-engined car more malleable than the delightful R8? Covered more track kays than any contender, which says something

Newman 4th
Feeling its age slightly, but a fabulous all-round supercar. More people really should buy these