The real steps forward here aren’t the extra power, but the R8 Performance quattro’s extra manners and fun. It has stiffer springs and dampers and the software has been rejigged to be more stable in its standard modes, calmer in the rain and looser and faster in the dynamic mode.
And there are more optional tricks up its sleeve. There are the magnetic dampers, which have had a speed upgrade over the old cars, dynamic steering, and a lightweight CFRP front anti-roll bar with red mounting brackets.
We were limited to just day and night laps of the private Ascari race resort in Spain’s south, with the R8s shod with track-biased Michelin Sport Cup 2 rubber instead of the stock Pirelli PZeros. So read on with that in mind.
The handling is crisper and more accurate than before It’s also more fun than before, especially in its dynamic mode and with its crash-busting software switched to its higher-drift plane and even more so with its crash-busting software switched off.
For lovers of hard driving — and, oddly, those who drive in cities by necessity — the dynamic steering is a big addition. It comes with a range of steering ratios. Effectively, it predictively shortens up the driver’s steering inputs for a given corner, especially if it’s a tight corner. In some bends, like hairpins, it cuts off more than a quarter of a turn of steering lock.
The updated R8 is happy to drift its way into corners, with the skid-control nuancing the car’s way to the apex time and again, making it fun and fast at the same time.
The brakes, too, feel like they are foolproof, though our cars carried the optional carbon-ceramic units and not the regular steelies.
The best part about the R8 is how egocentric it is. It feels as though every rev change is for you to enjoy, every cracked gearshift is for your enjoyment and every hard-pushed slide is intentionally designed for you to feel gleeful about.
It makes sure of it by turning the interior into a homage to the driver. There’s exactly zero stuff for the passenger to play with, even though there is 226lof luggage space behind the front seats.
The 12.3-inch infotainment screen is for the driver’s eyes only, including everything about navigation, speed, revs, fuel, lateral acceleration and torque and power use. And it’s really all you need.
The facelifted Audi R8 will arrive in SA in the third quarter of 2019.