For many of us, taking a supercar out on the track is something we’ll experience only in the virtual sense, like in the video game Forza Motorsport. So when you get a notice from Audi that you’ll be able to take the new R8 V10 on the legendary track Laguna Seca, you don’t ask questions you just get to the track as quickly as you can. We where already at the track for Monterey Car Week to checkout some of the Monterey Historic Racing Series events. As the day wound down, we got to checkout Audi’s hospitality paddock on the track and we were given a surprise pep talk from none other than Tom Kristensen himself. In case you don’t know who he is, he’s the driver that’s won LeMans a staggering 9 times out of the 13 total LeMans wins Audi has.
Getting out onto the pit lane, our fleet of R8’s awaited. We could not help but have flash backs to our very firs track day years ago at Sonoma Raceway, where we took out the first generation R8 V8 on that track. How much has the R8 evolved since then. The R8’s we were driving were the V10 model, with the 540 horsepower V10 engine sourced from the Lamborghini Huracan. Starting at $165,000, the R8 is priced and spec’d to be a solid contender for buyers looking at entry level supercars.
Igniting the engine of the R8 gives the sensation of a nice purring sound as the engine comes online. Although the engine is Lamborghini, everything about the R8 is Audi, so there’s a sense of engineered refinement about the car. The R8 is not about flash, it’s more about refinement. Getting the R8 out on Laguna Seca for a sighting lap was a great thrill, as we took our time to get a proper feel for the car and for the track. Perhaps the most thrilling moment was diving 6 stories downward for the first time on the infamous corkscrew. That combined with the increased speed through turn 1 on our second lap where the most thrilling and terrifying moments…until lap 3 when we managed to get the R8 a little sideways for a fun little drifting session.
On the track the R8 is fast, fun and very responsive. Oddly though, the R8 actually seems better suited for the road as you get the feeling that the car is engineered to be a little more subdued and refine rather than balls to the wall. The V10 has plenty of power but the delivery is not as neck-snappingly instant as it could be, the steering is precise but you feel that the AWD could be dialed in a smidge more give the car a little more edge. Don’t get us wrong, we think the R8 is a great car, it’s got a cool look and was a very fun car on the track. However, it feels a little too Audi for it’s own good, which if you’re a big Audi fan is a great thing. But if you’re not fully sipping the Audi kool-aid, then you might find yourself with a slight feeling of needing something a little more. Overall we’d say the R8 V10 is a great road car and good car for those looking to dip their toes into the supercar world, we’d highly recommend it over the new Acura NSX. We do want to thank Audi for taking our track virginity on a new track again, as the chance to really experience Laguna Seca was a gear head dream come true.