2017 Audi R8 V10

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Before I could shut the car off coming back from a routine errand the neighbor lady was tapping on the passenger window asking if I would take her 14-year-old son for a ride. "He''s been dying to ride in that car, he loves cars and this is one of his favorites," she implored. So off we went in the 2017 Audi R8, which also garnered a lot of attention from adults during our test week.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to impress a future car guy, we headed off to a close-by industrial park that has about a half mile of paved road in an undeveloped section for a few minutes of spirited driving. He was impressed from the point of being virtually speechless.

The second-generation supercar is the current answer to a question we get every so often, "what's the best car you've ever driven." The newest R8 is a stunningly fast two-seater propelled by a V-10 engine emitting one of the most pleasing sounds in the world just behind the driver's seat. The R8 is propelled by a 5.2-liter 540 horsepower V-10 making 398 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Published times for the standard V-10 — there is a more expensive version making 610 horsepower — is 3.3 seconds from 0-to-60, 7.3 seconds from 0-to-100, and a quarter mile time of 11.5 seconds. Not that it will matter to a new owner, but for the record, gas mileage on premium is rated at 15 mpg city, 22 highway and 17 overall.

The R8 draws considerable attention just sitting in the parking lot even though the "fully redesigned" supercar looks very much like its predecessor, which dramatically appeared on the  automotive scene in 2008. The wedge-shaped design is so compelling, so larger than life when you get up-close, that we think it would have been a nearly impossible task for Audi designers to change the styling direction while maintaining the curb appeal of the original.

What Audi has done is update the technology and rework the interior while adding the things that matter most with a sports car — performance and handling. As before, the all-wheel-drive R8 is based on a sister car from Lamborghini, the new Huracan. Audi has also ditched the base V-8 engine and eliminated the manual transmission.

The coolest aspect of the new interior is the "Virtual Cockpit," a high-resolution 12.3-inch screen that dynamically resizes the speedometer and tachometer, grouping all driving and infotainment functions into a single screen directly in front of the driver. The most impressive display is the navigation screen in Google Earth format.

Infotainment functions are accessed through the MMI controller in the center console including the delightful-sounding 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system that includes satellite radio. It's a bit off-putting at first to see nothing in the center stack but a pair of air vents and three climate control buttons. It  was surprising just how intuitive and user-friendly we found the compelling layout.

Also unique for-2017 is the steering wheel that integrates buttons for ignition and driving-mode selection.

Despite being a performance juggernaut, the R8 is very comfortable as a daily driver with a roomy and high-quality interior. The standard 18-way power seats are very much to out liking because the adjustable side and leg bolsters can accommodate older and wider bodies. The interior is extremely quiet with the exception of the wonderful V-10 engine noise, and the drivability from rapid acceleration to neck-snapping braking is extremely confidence inspiring.

A downside that is usually the by-product of most sports cars is a minimal cargo area, and so it is with the R8, which has only 8 cubic feet of storage including the front truck AND a small space behind the seats.If you decide on an overnight trip, you will have to live out of small duffel bag in the trunk and with a few odds and ends behind the seats.

The 2017 R8 comes in just two trims — V10 and V10 Plus — starting at $164,150. As mentioned above, the V10 Plus brings 70 more horsepower at 610 and 413 pound-feet of torque yielding 0-to-60 times in the upper reaches of 2 seconds. Also included are a carbon-ceramic brakes, a sport suspension, a carbon-fiber trim package, an additional "performance" mode for the Drive Select system and highly bolstered sport seats with fixed seatbacks. The V10 Plus starts at a whopping $191,150.

The extra performance would be interesting, but most of the extra equipment on the V10 Plus is aimed at the track, and some things that make the standard V10 so drivable on the street including the 18-way power seats and the outstanding sound system are not available except as options on the V10 Plus. Virtually everything you can imagine is standard on the V10, but regrettably such modern safety features as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation with automatic braking are unavailable.

With such options as a carbon exterior package ($5,600), great looking diamond stitch leather package ($5,000), carbon interior package ($3,400), enticing 20-inch wheels ($1,500) and dynamic steering ($1,400), our test car carried a bottom line of $183,050.

— Jim Meachen