Audi covers the premium car market with obsessive comprehensiveness. There are compact hatchbacks, 12-cylinder limousines and everything in between. Including, for the well-heeled sports car buyer who is keen on speed and style, the latest version of the mid-engined Audi R8.
Performance is never in doubt, thanks to 550PS from the 5.2-litre engine (up from 525PS from the non-Plus R8, which costs £12,000 less). There’s a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a new seven-speed twin-clutch S-tronic transmission, which is much slicker than the rather slow-witted R-tronic gearbox in the old R8.
On the road that translates into enormous fun: the V10 howls away a few inches behind your head and the four-wheel drive R8 punches out of bends and heads for the horizon at speeds you can scarcely comprehend.
But the R8’s real trick is to combine all this urge with genuine everyday practicality. It’s easy to see out of, a doddle to park, and as easy to get into and out of as a low-slung sports car ever will be. The V10 pulls without a murmur from low revs and the S-tronic gearbox’s auto mode, while not quite as unobtrusive as a conventional automatic, is fine for taking the strain in city traffic.
The R8 is quiet enough not to be embarrassing in everyday use, yet can raise the hairs on the back of your neck with its V10 soundtrack when you explore the bottom half of the accelerator pedal travel. The breadth of its ability – as show car, performance car, everyday car, supercar – is extraordinary.