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top sports carsA race track is the proper place to sample a sports car, so Audi unveiled the R8 V10 at the Changi Exhibition Centre. With the help of two driving coaches from California, Audi Singapore constructed a bow-shaped circuit. Marked out with cones, the circuit consists of a long straight, a slalom section, tight lefts, a convincing hairpin and an S-curve. Not too challenging but still mighty entertaining.

It is not hard to notice how much sportier the R8 V10 appears, compared with the V8 version launched here two years ago.

The exterior cosmetic changes are subtle yet significant. In addition to Audi's signature daytime-running lights, the car has full LED headlamps. A discreet V10 badge adorns each front fender. The R8's distinctive side blades are now more bulging, on account of larger intakes to cool the bigger engine.

You will also notice the wheels, new 19-inch alloys that could have been inspired by the Transformers insignia.

At the rear, two large oval tailpipes (each housing two exhausts) feature prominently on each side of the bumper. Beneath them, more pronounced diffusers. Certainly a hint of Lambo here.

Inside, this R8 has perceptibly better fit and finish, and higher quality materials line the cabin. The test-car has bucket seats, carbon-fibre panels and something that you do not see often: ceramic brakes.

The only bits which appear out of sync with the overall quality is the air-conditioning and the passenger-side floor mat. The former has to be turned to the maximum under the punishing sun. And the latter is not anchored down, flapping backwards when the car blasts off.

It is your turn now. You aim the 525bhp mid-engined all-wheel-drive into the first long straight. The V10 lets out a metallic scream and hurtles forward like a rocket. Midway, its robotised manual gearbox kicks into second with a resounding 'thunk', sending the car surging and your stomach up against your diaphragm.

You squeeze the brakes just before the first corner and the car sheds speed smoothly to allow a decent right-angled left with minimal fanfare.

You are now lined up to attack the slalom and the R8 is so balanced, so sure-footed and its steering so keen that it breezes through the obstacle course in an almost straightline fashion.

Then another hard left and you see an 80m stretch marked with two apex cones. It is an illusion as this part can be attacked with barely any steering input.

The remaining leg of the course really shows off the R8's superb dynamic set-up. Although slightly heavier than its V8 twin, the car does not show it.

It is extremely rewarding when you shift the dynamic weight around properly and is quite forgiving if you do not. The test-car's semi-slicks offer great adhesion and speed, and although the tarmac is less than perfect, the well-balanced two-seater never threatens to fishtail even when taken with too much haste around the hairpin.

The clutch-actuated gearbox is noticeably slicker than the V8's, so quick and effective shifts are a given. The only thing you wish you had more of is lower-end grunt (oh yes, greed is good).

Your time on the course is so smile-inducing that you sneak back in for another fix. And you are happy you stuck around, because there is a drag race at the end.

In a cleverly staged pedal-to-metal sprint, your car is pitted against a V8 version driven by one of the instructors. Oh, this is good.