Highlighting this car is a new, in-house developed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox that takes the place of the not-so-smooth single-clutch R-tronic that the R8 was straddled with since the car launched. Personally, I would be getting my R8 with the gated six-speed manual every time, but the reality is that roughly 60 percent of R8s sold here in the United States are examples with two pedals. Before that meant the R-tronic and while it was OK when you were driving the daylights out of the car, it was awful when you drove normally around town. To get the transmission to perform a shift that was anywhere close to smooth, you had to lift off the gas, shift and then get back on the gas. And those shifts weren’t quick, which is normally the case with single-clutch units like BMW’s old SMG and even the box that’s in the Lexus LFA when just puttering about.
With the dual-clutch S-tronic, all the complaints of jerky operation go out the window. Not only are shifts remarkably smooth in manual and full-auto modes, but it boasts optimized launch control and can skip gears, unlike the R-tronic, which had to sequentially engage each gear, enabling the new trans to be much quicker.
Sitting atop the R8 range now is this V10 Plus model that’s 110 pounds lighter than the standard V10 thanks to things like forged-aluminum wheels, carbon-fiber side blade, front splitter and rear diffuser, carbon brakes, and a conventional suspension in place of the magnetic suspension. And finally there is a revised engine management to squeeze an additional 25 hp from the 5.2-liter V10 for a stout total of 550 hp.
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