AUDI has just unleashed its latest R8 sports car with rear-wheel drive and it's a pure thrill-seekers dream with performance stats that are certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Powered by a high-revving 5.2-litrenaturally-aspiratedV10 petrol engine delivering540PS and 540Nm of torque, the two-seater can hit 62mph from a standing start in just 3.7 seconds and has a maximum speed of 201mph.
This is a car that's guaranteed to stop any onlookers dead in their tracks thanks to its beautifully crafted design along with accompanying engine and exhaust soundtrack.
Admittedly such beauty comes with a hefty price-tag - the R8 RWD Coupe wades in at £115,185 and despite featuring clever Cylinder-on Demand technology whereby a bank of five cylinders is switched off when they are not required, regular trips to the petrol station will still be the norm. The official figures show a combined 22.2mpg with carbon emissions of 288g/km.
When approached from any direction, the R8 is simply drop dead gorgeous. It's one of the best looking sports cars on the market with a gloss black styling pack with front spoiler, side sill inserts and rear diffuser inserts in gloss black, a gloss black radiator grille with R8 emblem and striking 19-inch alloy wheels in gloss Anthracite black with diamond cut finish.
Open the doors and LEDs project the Audi Sport logo onto the ground and the wow factor continues inside the car with a premium, yet sporty theme throughout. There are heated R8 sports seats with side bolster support, an R8 flat-bottomed three-spoke sports steering wheel, plus eye-catching titanium-finish inlays.
The main focal point is the 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit behind the steering wheel and techno treats include 3D navigation, DVD player, smartphone connectivity, DAB radio, full climate control and an internet-based infotainment service with 36 months subscription.
When it comes to performance, the R8 delivers on all counts. With more rear end balance this R8 is slightly edgier and lighter than its quattro counterparts and that means you can have a little more fun with a certain amount of drift-like slide into corners.
The acceleration is blisteringly quick and the power levels don't ease off at all as it fires through the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission with paddles for added driver engagement along the way.
You can flick through drive modes called Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual that alter the throttle response, gear shift points, steering and engine sound, with the Dynamic setting really adding an edge to the all-round handling.
It is a car that perfectly adapts to suit your mood with a deceptively calming nature when performing in Comfort mode as the excellent suspension system smooths out the bumps and dips. Then when you want to test your metal, switch across to Dynamic and let the fun and games begin. The noise levels increase, the ride gets much firmer and the responses are sharper too.
Another factor that is surprising is the impressive comfort levels. Despite its low-slung stance and sports car dimensions, the R8 is actually a really comfortable place to while away a few hours. And unlike some rivals, you won't need a chiropractor on speed dial. It almost feels like the cockpit has been specifically designed for you with the snug seats, proportioned steering wheel and pedals that line up perfectly.
Obviously, storage levels within the R8 are not going to be great, but the Audi designers have cleverly made use of any free space. There is a compartment beneath the bonnet that can swallow 112 litres of luggage, along with a spacious parcel shelf that can hold a further 226 litres of kit. There is also a large glovebox, a small-ish central cubby box and a couple of cup holders - if you're brave enough to attempt to drink a coffee while driving the R8 that is!
The vehicle stretches 4.4 metres in length and is 1.9 metres wide excluding the mirrors, so it can feel quite large when powering along narrow country lanes and the other issue can be deciding where best to park the car. That's because the doors open very wide so you need plenty of room either side.