It might seem churlish to start a review of a car as talented as the Audi R8 with a digression into taxonomical semantics, but the question of whether we should regard it as a particularly brawny sports car or whether it achieves the realm of a supercar sums up the wider confusion about just where it sits in the market.
On one hand, the R8 shares much of its underbody structure and its howling V-10 engine with the Lamborghini Huracán, the supercar bona fides of which can’t be questioned. On the other, it wears an Audi badge, and despite the best efforts of that glorious V-10, its power outputs today seem modest when other supercars increasingly break the 700-hp barrier. The current model of the regular R8 has a mere 532 horsepower, and the Plus version just clears the 600-hp mark with 602.
While we acknowledge that such concerns seem ridiculous when considered against the sonorous charms of the high-revving engine itself, they clearly matter to some. Audi is rolling out a facelifted version, which arrives in the United States in summer 2019, likely as a late-arriving 2019 model. In Europe, the update brings a gasoline particulate filter to help clean the V-10’s tailpipe emissions and titanium valvetrain components that help raise output in the standard version to 561 horsepower, while the new Performance model (which replaces the Plus in the lineup) boasts 611 horses. It’s unclear, however, whether the U.S. car will get those engine tweaks.
Cosmetically, the revised R8 is distinguished by more angular front styling, with bumpers incorporating upright winglet-style elements on both sides and a wider and hungrier-looking grille. Above this there are three smaller intakes which we’re told are a reference to the Sport Quattro, a Group B rally legend of many years ago. Expect this design signature to roll out across multiple future Audi models. At the back are a bigger diffuser and two oval tailpipes in place of the current car’s flat-edged outlets. Except for some minor trim tweaks, the interior is effectively unchanged.
By: Mike Duff, January 3, 2019
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