Adjectives are a writer’s best friend. They allow us to convey endless nuance and give us the ability to preach on the magnificence of a brilliantly crafted transmission mechanism, as in the Pagani Huayra, or the subtle intricacies of a well-laid out engine bay. But there are times when words fail a writer. As such, those failures render words like ferocious, vicious, comically absurd, and illogical useless. After experiencing the supremacy that is AMS Performance’s twin-turbo V-10 Alpha 10 Audi R8, you’re only left with two words. Good god.
When Audi decided to build a supercar, the company did so in the hopes of building a rival for the Porsche 911, an everyday supercar. That meant that the exterior of the car couldn’t be bursting with scoops, angles, ridiculous wings, or anything ostentatious like its sister company Lamborghini would design. The R8 had to be subtle, and from the outside of AMS Performance’s Audi R8, you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s anything but stock. There are some Alpha 10 stickers, but there isn’t a heinous body-kit, outrageously wild exhaust tips, or anything else of that ilk. It’s a sleeper supercar.
Then you slide into the perfectly designed interior, turn the R8’s key, and realize you’re in a rightly unique car. The sharp yowl from the V-10 hails the coming fury, but the engine then quiets down. It’s only when you mash your foot down, spool the two Garrett turbochargers, clink through the acoustically impeccable gated-manual shifter and unleash close enough to 1,000 horsepower that you truly understand what AMS Performance did to this expletive of a machine.
Audi’s V-10-powered R8 was a reasonably faultless car from the factory. Taller individuals like myself had ample head and leg room, and the V-10 provided a symphony for the ears. The R8 represented a dying breed of supercar, one that buyers could still purchase with a gated-manual transmission. And Audi’s chassis and excellent Quattro drive-system gave the R8 superb handling. It was nigh near flawless. Yet, where everyone saw near perfection, AMS Performance saw potential.
In the immortal words of Carroll Shelby, “I love horsepower,” and that’s the same sentiment that the engineers have at AMS Performance. The Illinois-based performance shop has been building preposterously wild sports cars for quite some time. AMS Performance started out by tuning Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution, but has since become one of the premier performance shops for all things exotic. This Alpha 10 R8 is the company’s test mule and runs a custom pair of Garrett turbochargers, a proprietary ECU flash, and some trick cooling units to horsepower to more than 921 hp to the crank and more than 800 hp to the wheels.
Besides a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, little has been done to the rest of the car. The suspension? It’s stock. The transmission is stock as well, including the clutch, which is rather amazing since it now takes a beating due to the increase in power. And this is because AMS Performance didn’t want to build another Alpha Omega, the company’s 2,500 hp Nissan GT-R. Rather, the company wanted a car that could be used every day, a car that wouldn’t throw CELs or break down. The Alpha 10 R8 is still a gentleman’s car. A gentleman’s car that will get you arrested in under 3 seconds, of course, but a gentleman’s car nonetheless.
Ripping through southern California’s tree root-like Highway 2, the Alpha 10 R8 is surprisingly easy to hustle. You’d expect that with almost 1,000 hp on tap, you’d be constantly drifting ever closer to the 900-foot canyon boundaries because you misjudged your braking points. But the canyon’s cliff edges stay where they are; you never even get close. The car came set up perfectly, AMS Performance just made everything faster. The extra horsepower intensifies the experience, and it never feels like the R8 is working hard to keep grip. It’s as if Audi engineered the R8 to handle this amount of power from the car’s inception.
This car however, becomes unequivocally addicting when your right foot levels the throttle and the sound of both the twin-turbochargers spooling up almost instantaneously and V-10 fills the cabin with a concerto like no other. You constantly want to lift and then punch the accelerator just to hear the opus that is this car’s powertrain. Lift, throttle, spool, howl, repeat. It’s a wonder how we didn’t use up every single ounce of gasoline on the 10-mile stretch of road. Or get arrested for disturbing the peace.
Furthering that disruption, the Alpha 10 package from AMS Performance will set you back a cool $38,999.95, excluding installation. But since first generation Audi R8 V-10 values are dropping to sub-$100,000 due to the next generation R8’s recent debut, it becomes a relative bargain for the performance you’re getting. The next supercars that come with 900 hp are the Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari. All of those are completely sold out, and when new, cost more than $1 million. In the end, our time with the Alpha 10 R8 was entirely too short, as in we wish we could have never given it back. It’s perfection squeezed into a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
AMS Performance Alpha 10 Audi R8 V10 Quattro Spections Specifications
|Price:||$38,999.95 (kit, plus installation and cost of Audi R8)|
|Engine:||5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-10/921 hp @ 8,100 rpm, 600+ lb-ft @ 7,200 rpm|
|Layout:||2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, AWD coupe|
|L x W x H:||174.4 x 75.0 x 49.3 in|
|Weight:||3,615 lb lb|