The weather’s fine in the NSW Snowy Mountains for the moment but, in the tradition of Alpine regions everywhere, just give it a minute and it could turn cold, sleeting and icy.
In other words, it’s a great place to wind out a $389,900 all-wheel-drive V10 two-seat supercar with 449kW, 560Nm and carbon ceramic brakes.
Yes, the R8 V10 Plus has finally made it to Oz in right hand drive, and after our blast at Bathurst earlier in 2016, we’re keen to see if the incredible on-track performance can translate to the real world.
Audi Australia reckons that 80 per cent of buyers will plump for the full-fat version of the two R8s offered locally. The ‘standard’ V10 at $354,900 offers 396kW and 540Nm and is a shade slower to the 100km/h (3.5sec versus 3.2 for the Plus). It also misses out on some key spec items that make the Plus a more compelling buy.
Clicking the drive select dial that’s mounted awkwardly on the steering wheel to Comfort or Normal sees the supercar element of the R8 simply evaporate into mist, replaced by something with the demeanor of a base A4. It’s uncanny.
Hit D for Dynamic, though, and things… change. There’s just one excellently perfect damper tune aboard, but the rest of the car sharpens appreciably under both your fingers and feet.
There’s nothing quite like a mid-engined car for chassis balance, and the R8 is on the right side of playful over the tarmac. It will not spook even the most timid of pilots, yet it rewards the more adventurous without punishment. In fact, it’s one of the most accomplished, refined and mature chassis tunes we’ve come across in a long, long time.
You can feel each of the four wheels individually tracking the terrain via your fingertips and inner ear. The electric steering is terrific, too, though I expected more weight in Dynamic mode.
The powerplant is truly something special, too. Born of Audi’s customer GT3 racing program, the 5.2-litre V10 wallops around to its 8250rpm redline in a heartbeat, relentlessly shortening the straight bits between the bends as fast as thought.
The thrust isn’t violent, such is the refinement of the chassis, but it’s huge and relentless and it seems as if it will never stop; I have no trouble believing it’ll punch out 330km/h. At all.
The new R8 will be a serious contender for the overall at PCOTY 2016. You read it here first.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
Like: Astonishing accomplished chassis tune, astounding V10 engine
Dislike: Underdone interior aspects, missing just a smidge of mongrel.
Engine: 5204cc V10 90-degree, DOHC, 40v
Power: 449kW @ 8250rpm
Torque: 560Nm @ 6500rpm
Weight: 1555kg/ 0-100km/h 3.2sec (claim)