PLASTIC surgery is not just the purview of ultra-wealthy Hollywood socialites or barely-clothed Instagram ‘influencers’ looking to make a name and a buck anymore, the nip/tuck procedure is also applied to cars in an effort to keep them looking good.
The ‘facelift’ (in automotive parlance) often comes about half way through a vehicle’s lifecycle, cleaning up the front bumper and adding specification that should probably have been included from the start.
It’s odd then, that Audi has decided to put its second-generation R8 supercar under the knife, as the mid-engined Ferrari-baiting model still looks and drives so fresh even after three years on the market.
The best news though? It’s not just a cosmetic nip and tuck, the R8 has been hitting the gym and downing the protein shakes for a little extra go to match all that show.
Still powered by a 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 engine, the facelifted R8 now belts out 419kW of peak power and 550Nm of maximum torque – 22kW/10Nm more than before – that is sent to the ground via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
As a result, the new R8 will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds in coupe form, with the convertible Spyder version just 0.1s slower.
Putting that into perspective, Audi’s bona fide supercar will easily keep pace with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GT, Porsche 911, Ferrari Portofino and McLaren 570S, as well as its mechanically related Lamborghini Huracan cousin.
For those that want to beat the aforementioned cars though, there is always the R8 V10 Plus, wherein Audi tunes the atmo V10’s output to a staggering 456kW/580Nm, 17kW/20Nm more than the outgoing model.
With a triple-digit acceleration time of 3.1 and 3.2s for coupe and convertible respectively, the R8 V10 Plus will leave nearly everything on the road for dead in a cheeky traffic light race.
Not content with the power bump, Audi has also taken the opportunity to revise the R8’s suspension setup for improved steering response and retuned the electronic stability control for better braking performance.
In addition, three new drive modes are also added to the top-spec V10 Plus variant to better get the power down in dry, wet and snowy conditions – but seriously who is driving a 456kW/580Nm Audi R8 in an icy environment?
And all this before even mentioning the cosmetic tweaks made to the new facelifted Audi R8!
From the front, a more aggressive-looking face is given thanks to a lower and wider singleframe grille, as well as new detailing in the bonnet, a more angular splitter and new-look air intakes.
In keeping with Audi’s RS heritage, the rear exhaust outlets are now oval in shape, while the rear number plate garnish is also modernised with a design that runs the width of the car.
Wheels measure 19 inches as standard, but buyers can opt for 20s, as well as a number of exterior packages, carbon-ceramic brakes and a carbon-fibre reinforced front stabiliser bar.
Pricing is not yet known for the facelifted model, but expect to see Audi Australia marginally increase pricing for the upgraded R8 when it blasts into showrooms in late 2019.
For reference, the current Audi R8 range kicks off at $299,129 before on-roads for the base RWS grade, which stands for Rear Wheel Series – the only two-wheel-drive variant in the supercar line-up.
Though not yet confirmed, the new R8 could spawn a number of different special editions and higher-performing variants like the supercar has done in the past, like the aforementioned RWS.
Just last year, Audi released a limited rear-wheel-drive R8 dubbed RWS that made the German supercar even more accessible, yet arguably more fun, than ever before.
Powered by a same 5.2-litre V10 as the base all-paw R8, the RWS makes 397kW/540Nm but costs about $66,000 less, making it the cheapest ticket into a V10-powered model in Australia.
Rumours have also run wild that Audi will leverage the ballistic Huracan Performante, the one-time Nurburgring lap record holder, to deliver an even more hardcore, track-focussed R8.
With a bonkers 470kW/600Nm engine mounted behind the driver’s seat, the secret to the Performante’s pace lies with its extensive aerodynamic overhaul that includes a fixed rear wing, flat underbody and air-channelling bodykit.
With both the R8 and Huracan sharing the same underpinings, could we see a new flagship Audi supercar emerge after this facelift? Let’s hope so!
Audi’s new R8 proves that beauty is more than just skin deep, with its engine upgrades and mechanical enhancements blending with its new look to combine for what is surely another winner.