Back in 2007, Audi decided the time was right to show the world what it was truly made and it gave us the stunning R8. Launched to universal acclaim, I too was suitably impressed not only by the looks, acceleration and top notch build quality, but also by the ease of driving, not always a given with supercars.
The original R8 was equipped with a 430PS 4.2-litre V8 plucked from the RS4, later gaining V10 and V10 plus options. Both were exceptionally fast but those extra two cylinders made a noticeable difference, not just in acceleration but also to the soundtrack.
With sights aimed ever higher, the second generation R8 comes only with V10 engines boasting heady 540 and 610PS power outputs. The more powerful engine also does service in the Lamborghini Hurracan and what joy to find my test car thus equipped!
A superb seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox is fitted with obligatory paddles for ultimate control. Silky smooth and lightening quick, I doubt any buyers will bemoan the lack of a manual gearbox option.
The new R8 remains the fastest Audi road car and my V10 plus model was able to sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.2 seconds.
It feels every bit a fast and if a disused airfield or autobahn had been at my disposal, I could have tried to emulate the 0-124mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds!
With due respect for my driving licence I attempted to stay within UK speed limits….
Much of my week behind the wheel was accompanied by appalling wet weather and here Audi’s Quattro system comes into play. Traction was never less than exemplary and only a dislike for large puddles of standing water caused a modicum of concern.
Anyone with a love of cars will be captivated by the V10 soundtrack that accompanies even the shortest journey. Loud at all times, especially in ‘Sport’ mode where all downward gearchanges are accompanied by an intoxicating bark from the engine, the R8 is not a car to silently go about ones everyday business.
But would you really want to? In choosing a car as achingly beautiful as an R8, you clearly want to be noticed. Select the ‘Dynamite Red’ paint option too and you can be sure a crowd will gather wherever it is parked.
The R8’s interior is no less special, with the finest of materials much in evidence. Clambering aboard can be a little challenging, but once ensconced there is ample leg and headroom for even the tallest of drivers.
The leather-clad bucket seats are extremely comfortable but more importantly hold you firmly in place when the road turns twisty. The flat-bottomed steering wheel contains a multitude of buttons, allowing the driver to change the characteristics of the car, by altering the engine sound, steering, dampers and throttle response.
Up front is a deep boot, capable of holding a week’s shopping or some squashy bags for a weekend away. This is supplemented by some additional storage space behind the front seats.
Ride comfort is surprisingly good for a car so clearly designed with speed in mind and wind and road noise are conspicuous by their absence. The R8 can therefore play the role of long distance cruiser rather well, the only fly in the ointment being the fuel consumption. Audi quote 23mpg for the combined cycle, but from experience I would say 17-18mpg is more realistic. I doubt would-be buyers will mind.
Audi are limiting production of R8s to around 30 cars a day, so if you are lucky enough to be in a position to purchase one, expect a wait to take delivery. Exclusivity will be ensured and I would expect residual values to be strong. An R8 Spyder is scheduled to follow later this year and no doubt removing the roof will allow the V10 soundtrack to be even more enjoyed!
All too soon my week behind the wheel was at an end. I’d taken many friends and neighbours for a drive and all were wowed by the sense of occasion that the R8 engendered. However, they missed out as you can only really appreciate the many exciting virtues of the R8 from behind the wheel.
The car is now long gone, but the memories linger…