At 120 mph, the bird bounced off the windshield header of the 2020 Audi R8 Performance with a sickening thud. Actually, it was more of a crunch. Miraculously, the impact, which likely pulverized the majority of the creature's tiny hollow bones, didn't leave a blemish on Audi's updated six-figure supercar.
It wasn't our fault, at least not entirely. The intense howl and thundering bass of the Audi's 5.2-liter V-10 at 8000 rpm should have given our feathered friend fair warning to stay clear. For the 2020 model year, the second generation of Audi's mid-engine R8 receives a mid-cycle refresh that includes a pair of exaggerated oval exhaust tips so oversized they're actually out of proportion with the rest of the car.
The active exhaust system itself is unchanged. It still has two settings, Standard and Sport, and it's quite subdued in Standard mode below 4000 rpm. Sport mode, however, which is activated with a button on the steering wheel, makes R8 models sold in the United States seemingly the loudest in the world. R8 Performance models sold in Europe get a new, quieter, single-mode system along with a few engine mods that increase output from 602 horsepower to 612. "We decided to stick with the sound on the U.S. cars," said R8 product manager Anthony Garbis. "When you have 602 horsepower, you don't really need 612." Some, of course, would disagree. The base R8 model, however, does get a 30-hp boost for a total of 562 horses.
Visually more successful is the even more angular front end now worn by both variants. The new look incorporates upright winglet-style elements on both sides with fake vents and a new, wider honeycomb grille and darkened headlamps. The revised rear bumper gets honeycomb air extractor vents, the big RS-style oval exhaust pipes, and a more serious rear diffuser. Redesigned rocker panels now include a gloss-black inlay on the base R8 model while the Performance version's treatment is rendered in a standard titanium finish or optional carbon fiber. Similar to the wheels on Audi's RS5 models, the R8's new forged-aluminum rollers are cut on a mill for more complex angular patterns. The result is a more severe, if still undeniably handsome, appearance than before, though some still will complain that the R8 is a supercar that doesn't look the part, like a runway model in joggers.
By SCOTT OLDHAM.
2020 Audi R8
mid-engine, all-wheel-drive, 2-passenger coupe or convertible
coupe, $172,850; Spyder, $185,050; Performance coupe, $198,850; Performance Spyder, $211,050
DOHC 40-valve 5.2-liter V-10, 562 or 602 hp, 406 or 413 lb-ft
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Length: 174.4 in
Width: 76.4 in
Height: 48.7–48.9 in
Passenger volume: 50 cu ft
Cargo volume: 4–8 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 3700–3950 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 2.8–3.0 sec
100 mph: 6.4–7.3 sec
¼-mile: 10.7–11.3 sec
Top speed: 201–205 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 16/13/20 mpg
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