(Pocket-lint) - The notion of an everyday supercar is something of an oxymoron. A car that will destroy rivals on the race track, but still be perfectly practical popping to the supermarket when you run out of saffron.
The first Audi R8 secured this position: in some ways ordinary, in others spectacular; the cousin of Lamborghini with the drama dampened with technical precision and luxury convenience.
With the 2016 R8 we're looking at a car that shares much with the new Lamborghini Huracan, particularly in the V10 Plus option reviewed here. While the Huracan has been judged by some as slightly sensible for a Lambo, the new Audi R8 is exactly what you want and what you expect it to be.
And that's a very good thing, because the everyday supercar lives on.
Audi R8 (2016) review: Design evolves
The new Audi R8 isn't a revolution in design from the exterior. The stance and balance of this new model very much reflects the previous car, tucked, tweaked and reformed for the present day.
The side blades - an iconic feature of the first-gen car - find themselves slightly reduced in prominence, transected by sharper shoulders. The blades still frame the air intakes behind the doors, but also mark the change from what is now a squarer and more serious rear, and the curvy dipping snub nose of the front.
There's a healthy dose of new Audi TT in that snub nose - and a passing glance from the front reflects that family design language more strongly than it previously did. This V10 Plus model comes with the carbonfibre rear spoiler - and matching carbonfibre mirrors - marking it out as enhanced over the regular V10 model.
That 5.2-litre V10 engine is very much a showpiece, as it should be, sitting under a rear expanse of glass, for all to view. You can wrap that engine bay in glossy carbonfibre too if the aesthetics are worth the extra £2,950 to you. A flip of the internal switch (as ordinary as you'll find on any other Audi) and that glass cover opens, revealing the V10 magnificence in its flesh.
This is a car that will turn heads. During our time behind the wheel of the 2016 R8, we noticed that Audi drivers especially gave the longest stares. This is where everything from the S-line trim on the smallest A1, up to the hulking beast of the RS7 points: this is Audi's champion; this is Audi's sports car.
Audi R8 review: Interior practicalities
Large doors give way to an interior that's surprisingly spacious and easy to both enter and exit. You're not climbing into a carbon tub, so access is comparatively easy, rather than folding yourself into the driving seat.
The R8 is a pretty wide car, though, and the interior benefits from this. There's space in the footwells and space around your elbows that some cars of this ilk don't afford you, and standing over 6-foot tall we found plenty of headroom too.
The sports seats are firm as you'd expect and sculpted to keep you under control when changing direction at speed. If you're carrying a little weight or are of a bigger build, you might find them a bit of a squeeze, but that's probably a familiar problem for you. We found them perfectly comfortable, with enough paddingunder that luscious leather finish to stay comfortable on long drives.
That leather treatment runs through the interior too, pared in many cases with carbonfibre trim, giving a high-quality, luxury, finish. The interior has some unique elements, but it's again closely linked to other Audi models, particularly the TT.
The R8 uses the digitial display first seen in the TT, which allows the interior design to be rather more minimal, as everything is centred around the driver, which it should be. There are the central controls on the transmission tunnel, but you can pretty much do everything from the steering wheel, so everything is at your fingertips.
We love the addition of the start/stop button to the steering wheel - it's very Ferrari, very sports car - and pushing that big red button can't fail to put a smile on your face, with the accompanying explosion of sound as you do so.
The addition of the drive select button is also handy, as it saves fishing around elsewhere, and means you can quickly move from Comfort to Dynamic if you really want to set some fireworks off.
There's also an engine noise button that we're less excited about. It switches between standard or sporty noise, but we can't help feeling that this minor vanity play is a little out of character with the serious precision of the rest of the R8.
Finally the steering wheel offers a performance mode button. This is the track mode that sets the car up for racing (thus killing traction control) and offers three modes - wet, dry and snow.
Some might find that the number of buttons and options on the steering wheel is a little confusing, especially as you can control the whole infotainment system here, leafing through multiple screens, changing the display and everything else. As gadget fans we like it and once you know Audi's system it's very logical and easy to nagivate.
That 12.3-inch digital display is slick and smooth, wonderfully animated and customisable. So you could have the full-screen navigation map (pulled from Google Maps if you wish), or even a rev counter placed centre with your choice of other information to the left and right.
Importantly, this display remains sharp, vibrant and visible in all conditions. With this car riding low, and with a low roof, it's less prone to glare from the sun than some other models might be.
Elsewhere in the interior, we love that carbon trim around the air vents, and the three central heating controls are minimalist and easy to understand.
It is, perhaps, just a little too normal though. As much as it all lends convenience, once you're cruising along a smooth road in Comfort mode, you could be in an Audi TT. That's good for the TT, but we suspect that there will always be those who don't fall for the Audi R8's everyday supercar charms. For some, it will be too sensible, especially in contrast to the wild interior of the Huracan.
That's the same double-edged sword that the R8 yielded previously and it does so again. You're given everything a modern car needs, with an options list that reads like any other Audi. We'd recommend the £600 rear view camera, as it makes parking a breeze, and we have to say we loved the performance of the Bang & Olufsen sound system - a £1,750 option.
But for many, it's the drive that will draw you to the R8, as it's here that this supercar makes its mark.
Audi R8 (2016) review: V10 thrills, few handling spills
Thumb that start button and the 610bhp V10 5.2-litre engine explodes into life. Your neighbours might not thank you, but you'll be grinning from ear to ear, as it's a beautiful sounding thing. It calms down quickly though, and if you're cruising around town in Comfort mode, it's respectably quiet.
You have all the modern features you'd expect, like auto start/stop, so you're not wasting fuel at the lights, as well as a clutch disengage feature if you lift off the gas when you're travelling at speed. The latter is a little alarming as you watch the rev needle drop right off, but we never found it to be a problem.
It's naturally a firm ride which leads to wonderfully flat cornering, but on a typical potholed suburban road, the speed bumbs will see you slowing right down. This is not a car that likes such obstacles, and hit one at anything over a crawl and you'll feel the ripples through all your podgy flesh and right into your bones. The car will also bounce a fair amount on these bumps, so you'll need to keep it slow.
In such sedate driving, again there's that feeling you could be in the TT. There are creature comforts, refinement, good visibility, and even cup holders. If that's all you need, the TT will give you all that, back seats (ish) and enough spare cash to pay off a decent chunk of mortgage. But that's not why people buy the R8. No, people will buy the R8 because of what happens in Dynamic mode.
If Comfort mode is a cage, then Dynamic mode throws open the door and lets the beast out. The revs jump up to ensure you don't run out of power and the throttle response is much snappier. That snarling V10 naturally aspirated engine roars, hums and pops in Dynamic mode, an adrenaline-fuelled orchestra that strips away all the subtleties, where you feel like you're living in the engine bay, man and machine combined, with the sole purpose of eating Tarmac.
For all the Audi R8's refinement, when you push this car it performs and that's where it will be judged. Hitting 62mph in 3.2 seconds, there's no drop-off in power, it just keeps giving and giving, and will continue to do so well beyond what you'll ever see on the road.
For those who love the sound of a big engine roaring, it's as you rise above 4,000rpm that you're really rewarded, if you ever have the road ahead to really put your foot down. It's up here with the spine-tingling excitement that the R8 is really at its best, letting the car drive how it was bred to drive.
The 7-speed automatic gearbox is tight and sharp and there's no manual alternative. Audi's paddles feel a little standard, pretty much as you'll find on other Audi cars, but they're responsive when tugged with your fingers. The contrast between gear changes between Comfort and Dynamic can't be emphasised enough. In regular driving you'll barely feel the changes up or down as it's so smooth and effortless, but in Dynamic driving its purposeful upward changes and down shifts are rewarded with popping explosions from the exhaust.
With Quattro (Audi's four-wheel-drive system) keeping that power firmly on the road and working smartly to make sure you're heading in the right direction, it's only the steering that feels a little vague at times. In Comfort driving it's too light, too disengaged, but at high speeds it's much more positive. That's perhaps a byproduct of the optional Dynamic Steering, but having not driven without it, it's hard to judge.
That said, the R8 gives you a great feeling of reassurance. It's a car that's packed with technology to keep you on the road, correcting your faults, but without spoiling the fun. Perhaps some want something more unhinged, but in a supercar for the everyday driver, it's a wonderful experience.
Of course it's expensive to run. For all the dialed-down fuel-saving measures, if you've been playful you'll probably find you've flushed through that fuel getting only 15mpg. Sensible motorway crusing will reward you with figures in the 20s instead.
There's no question that the Audi R8 is a wonderful piece of work. It might lack the drama of some supercars, but in this V10 Plus configuration, it really performs. We can't claim to have pushed it to its limits (public roads after all), but it's an exhillarating thrill ride when you want it to be and it's restrained enough to be comparably normal when you don't.
One of the remarkable things is that Audi delivers this supercar at a price that's more reasonable than some of its flamboyant counterparts. Where Audi's regular cars come at a premium, at the very top of the range, the R8 doesn't. The regular 540PS V10 model starts at £119,500 on the road, the 610PS V10 Plus starts at £134,500.
However, while we'd unquestionably be happy to drive this car all the time, there's that feeling that it's the best of the current world rather than a product of the future. With Audi's e-tron models seeping in elsewhere, we're left waiting for the R8 to take a leap and give us a supercar of the future.
That's the one niggling feeling about this R8: it is the pinnacle of Audi's road cars, but it almost feels like a supercar swan song. It's brilliant, but you could say that it doesn't embody a huge degree of vorsprung. It's praktisch durch technik instead - the best of everything current.