CONSIDER Audi's R8 the automotive equivalent of Hugh Jackman.
The versatile Hugh has superhero status as Wolverine.
With an ability to sprint from standstill to 100kmh in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 330kmh, the R8 is a genuine supercar. Yet Hugh can also sing and dance. Meanwhile the R8 generates symphonic sounds and weaves with deft prowess.
And old Hugh is buffed. Yep, the four-ringed hero car can tick that box too.
Officially launched last week, the second generation R8 has finally arrived. This is Audi's pin-up offering and it's priced accordingly - the base R8 starts from $354,900 before adding on roads, although it's the $389,900 Plus derivative which will account for most of the sales.
Not a word typically associated with supercars. They're designed for two things - look good and go fast. Yet the R8 remains a reasonable daily driver.
For starters, the "deluxe" air-conditioning actually works. And there is a spot to put your phone or wallet, close to the dual USB ports. Also, when you pop the console there are a pair of cup holders.
Although the Plus' bucket seats are quite cosseting with high bolsters, it will test the dexterity of those of husky dimensions, although you can option the range-topper with the standard Sport seats which offer greater adaptability and electronic control.
Key controls are all skewed toward the driver and the R8 gets Audi's awesome new "virtual cockpit" large digital display we've loved in the TT, Q7 and A4. It enables the pilot to scroll through a range of views all available at your fingertips on the flat-bottom steering wheel.
That wheel offers easy access to a range of functions, including the start and stop button, sports exhaust and cruise control.
There is also a central controller for the stereo, sat nav and other systems, but only the driver has a display with no central monitor.
On the road
Little encouragement is needed to produce the wow factor.
Sitting behind the cockpit is a naturally aspirated Lamborghini-derived V10 - that's your only choice now, with the V8 confined to the history books. In the base R8 you get 397 kilowatts… about four times that generated by your bog-stock Toyota Corolla.
But opt for the Plus and you get more punch, developing a knock-out 449kW.
Introduce your right foot to the firewall and you'll reach 100kmh in just over three seconds, all accompanied by a sound which negates the need for the flashy Bang and Olufsen stereo.
Various drive modes are available via the steering wheel, which changes the character of steering, suspension and throttle response. Yet even in comfort mode the R8 can get angry, but it's in dynamic mode where the most fun is had.
This thing is a sensation. Wider and shorter than the outgoing model, it also has a space frame almost lighter than Rebel Wilson. It's made from a combination of aluminium and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, which has also helped develop 40% greater rigidity.
So in essence, it's faster, more efficient, lighter yet with less body roll.
While the seven-speed automatic box does an impressive job, using the steering wheel-mounted paddles offers delightful fun and you explore the high-revving realms right until the 8500rpm redline.
It turns nicely too, punting the R8 into the twisty stuff it corners and hangs on with claw-like grip. Aided by all-wheel drive and a swag of technological gizmos which can swing 100 percent of torque front or rear, it makes any driver look good.
What do you get?
Your basic R8 comes with the virtual cockpit with 31cm LCD display, 19-inch alloys, sport steering wheel with easy access to start/top and various drive modes, air-con, heated sports seats with Nappa leather trim, along with a Bang and Olufsen sound system that has 13 loudspeakers as well as full Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
The Plus gets more horsepower, along with the carbon fixed rear wing with a glossy grille and matching rear diffuser, firmer bucket seats, performance mode with three additional driving modes (dry/wet/snow) and 20-inch alloys with carbon ceramic brakes.
For similar coin you could have a look at the Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo ($384,900), two-wheel drive Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 ($378,900), or the Mercedes-AMG GT S ($294,610).
Fuel consumption has been reduced, not that that tops the list of concerns for supercar drivers. With judicious use of your right foot the R8 will drink less than 13 litres per 100km on average. Yeah right.
Half the bank can shut down during low or intermediate load, so the R8 will run on only five cylinders to help conserve fuel. We can't see the fun in that, though.
Ducking down the shops to get some milk isn't something most supercars are used for. But the R8 can manage the mundane and the insane. While the honking V10 sits in the boot, there is a useful storage space for a couple of small bags under the bonnet, and some space behind the seats.
Sex sells, and this is the pinnacle of the Audi brand. Contoured wheel arches, the single-frame grille, the mid-engine mounted V10: it's simply gorgeous.
Most supercars are regularly confined to the garage, reserved for days where the sun is shining or the race track is bone dry.
Yet this is no single-use offering. While the R8 certainly does its best stuff on the track, it can also morph into a grand cruiser. Our journey through the Snowy Mountains proved it was adept in wide-ranging conditions.
It's fast, beautiful, sexy and surprisingly comfortable. Can you want anything else from a supercar?
What matters most
What we liked: Brilliant acceleration, symphonic sounds from the V10, your everyday supercar.
What we'd like to see: One in the driveway...a Plus please.
Warranty and servicing: Warranty is three years and unlimited kilometres. Complimentary servicing for the first three years.
Model: 2016 Audi R8.
Details: Two-door mid-engined all-wheel-drive supercar.
Engine: 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 generating maximum power 397kW @ 8250rpm and peak torque of 540Nm @ 6500rpm; Plus 449kW @ 8250rpm and 560Nm @ 6500rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed S tronic auto.
Consumption: 12.3 litres/100km (combined average).
CO2: 272g/km; Plus 287g/km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 3.5 seconds (top speed 320kmh); Plus 3.2-seconds (330kmh).
Bottom line plus on-roads: R8 $354,900, Plus $389,900.
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