I’ll be the first to admit I was somewhat taken with the 2008 Audi R8. Beautiful, balanced, spectacularly athletic and motivated by a 4.2L 420 hp V8 with a song to melt your heart. So I was a little concerned that its purity might have been compromised with the addition of a slightly heavier V10 in the 2010 5.2 version.

Yeah, right. After some track time at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and a week behind the wheel of one here at home, I doubt that anyone shelling out $173,000 for this surprisingly comfortable, user-friendly, supremely crafted and blindingly fast supercar will be slapping themselves on the forehead and blurting, “I coulda had a V8!”

The mid-mounted dry-sump 525 hp 5.2L V10 screams to a racy 8,700 rpm and makes 391 lb.-ft. at 6,500 rpm. While not as mellifluous as the V8, it has own unique aural signature.
Pile on the revs and it belts out a feral raspy wail that equals the ferocity of its thrust. One-hundred km/h is yours in less than four seconds. The V8 version is still available as a 2010 model for $141,000.

A six-speed manual with the sexiest aluminum shift gate extant is standard equipment. The thin metal shift lever makes the most delightful click-clacking against the gate as you run up and down through the gears.

An optional sequential six-speed R tronic with paddle shifters ($11,500) is a mixed blessing. This uses single-clutch technology, not the smoother twin-clutch type, and it can lurch in day-to-day motoring. Better suited to track work.

Visual cues to the R8’s extra pair of cylinders include unique 19-inch alloys, larger side intakes, black high-gloss grills (the front with chrome slats) and oval exhaust tips.

As with the V8 car, this V10 version endears itself to the driver with its spacious and cosseting interior, magnetic dampers that provide a comfortable ride along with excellent body control, laser guided steering and a rear biased quattro system (85 per cent in the V10), which gives the R8 rear wheel drive feel and incredible grip in the corners.

This is a very forgiving car to drive — always up for a hair-raising blast yet never bites back or beats you up.

Standard with the 2010 R8 5.2 is navigation, fine Nappa leather seats, impressive Bang & Olufsen sound, and the world’s first all LED headlight system. And instant celebrity status.

I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars, “They love me. They really love me.” Actually, it was the car, but I’ll take it.

The R8 is hand-built at a special factory in Neckarsulm, Germany, at the rate of about 20 per day. Place an order now and you’re looking at late spring for delivery. It’s worth the wait.

2010 Audi R8 5.2
Type: Sports coupe
Price: $173,000
Engine: 5.2L V10

• 100 km/hr in less than four seconds
• Hand-built in special factory