Apart from the usual Comfort/Auto/Dynamic/Individual settings in the Drive Select menu, the V10 Plus has three sub-settings when in Dynamic mode: Dry, Wet and Snow. These tailor the differential settings to suit the grip conditions underfoot.
You now choose your preferred Drive Select mode via a large round button on the steering wheel. The starter switch has also migrated from the centre console to the steering wheel, and on the V10 Plus, the Dynamic Mode Select knob and exhaust valve switch join them there as well. It’s a more driver-centric solution than before, and also tidies up the cockpit somewhat.
The Plus model also has carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, a fixed carbon fibre rear wing instead of the non-Plus model’s retractable device, and a firmer suspension setup (although both models also have the option of electronically adaptive dampers).
Drive reaches all four wheels via a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission (there is no longer a manual alternative), while a new electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch allows infinitely variable apportionment of torque between the axles. Unlike its predecessor, the new R8 can, depending on conditions, be front-drive or rear-drive only, or anything in between.
The all-wishbone setup of the previous R8’s chassis has been retained, and for good reason. The R8 has always had an exquisite handling balance coupled with a beautifully controlled ride, and this remains the case with the new model.
The steering seems quicker-geared than before, the car nosing into bends very keenly with a roll of the driver’s wrists, although subjectively, it also feels a touch lighter and less linear now.
This could be down to the optional Dynamic Steering fitted to our test cars at the launch event – it varies the steering ratio depending on speed. It involves less arm-twirling than the fixed-ratio rack of its predecessor, but the side effect seems to be a slight loss of the old car’s wonderful tactility through the helm and its fluidity. I’ll reserve judgment on this till I try the new R8 without Dynamic Steering.
Grip is ferocious, and as I discovered on a few flat-out laps of the daunting Portimao Circuit in southern Portugal, at the very limit I can feel the car start to move laterally, but progressively and gradually. Give it more power and the tail will edge out, but never suddenly or without warning, and it’s possible to hold it at that consistent angle quite confidently, all the way around.
For a car so planted and agile, the ride is remarkably good – pliant enough to shrug off poor surfaces without upsetting the vehicle’s trajectory, yet resolutely controlled over undulations and utterly resistant to body roll.
Straight-line performance is tremendous, of course, ranging from storming (standard R8 V10) to eye-watering (V10 Plus).
The engine is extremely strong right from idle speeds, and simply belts up to its 8700rpm rev limit time and again as the gearchanges fire through slickly on that dual-clutch gearbox.
But the gearchanges, immediate as they are, could do with more tactile ferocity, especially at high revs where the rival dual-clutch units in Ferraris, Porsches and even BMW M cars deliver such a thrill.
The century sprint times are 3.5 seconds for the regular V10 and 3.2 seconds for the Plus – supercar figures.
Given all that pace, it is a good thing the optional carbon-ceramic brakes are indomitable, as they proved by hauling me down from high three-figure speeds repeatedly for the hairpins on my track laps.
The new R8 is an entirely predictable but worthy sequel to its seminal predecessor. The V10 and V10 Plus models are both stunningly accomplished and hugely desirable creations, although with a price to match – the new R8 V10 Plus is likely to carry a price tag well in excess of $900k when it lands here next year.
There is still room above the two R8 models to introduce a hardcore, lightweight version for committed track-day enthusiasts, but as an everyday supercar, the new R8 as it now stands is almost without peer.
ENGINE 5204cc, 40-valves, V10
MAX POWER 610bhp at 8250rpm
MAX TORQUE 560Nm at 6500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 392.3bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 3.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 330km/h
CONSUMPTION 8.1km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 287g/km
PRICE INCL. COE To be announced