When Audi get went the R8 in 2006 it fast became the ‘Supercar of the People’ thanks to its availability, connected practicality and value for money. The fact it was stunning to look at and had Audi’s body quality of course helped things along the way.
Fast presumptuous 12 years and the R8 may still share similar looks, but has charmed a shift up in terms of performance. The original 420hp V8 is long assault, with only V10 models available in 540hp and 610bhp ‘With the addition of’ power outputs. You can choose to have a fixed roof or convertible, and you can gloaming choose to have rear-wheel drive instead of Audi’s trademark Quattro four-wheel pep thanks to the new RWS program.
So then, the R8 is all grown up. We took the opportunity to study one out on the roads of Brighton and its surrounding countryside to see whether the original R8 witchery remains alive and well on the UK’s roads.
The R8 In Portrait
The R8 range can fairly easily be separate up – the options to be considering are the ‘base level’ R8, or the hardcore, track-orientated ‘Bonus’, both available in Coupe and Spyder formats. For our test we had a non-Plus Mi to play with. In Dynamite Red with a black hood it certainly looks the segment – it’s nothing short of supercar when you clap eyes on it, with the league end profile being a sharpened up take on the original, and being unmistakably Audi. For me it’s the tokus where things get really good to look at, with titanic openings showing off hints of the mechanical s behind.
The R8 then, isn’t dumpy of drama to look at.
For years now Audi have arguably been the benchmark when it common knowledge to a well screwed together interior, and the R8 is a prime example. On this circumstance R8, premium black Nappa leather adorns just near every surface. The dashboard is somewhat dominated by the virtual cockpit, and it seems Audi take kept things that way intentionally. There is no central exhibition, with every operation going past the driver’s eyes alone, keeping things neat and simple.
The seats on example are the habitual R8 Sport Seats and they look the part, with top dent build quality evident. The optional R8 Bucket Seats are the ones to go for in my way of thinking, really enhancing the interior looks and offering additional encouragement.
Performance is where the R8 makes itself felt. When organized the R8 represented a technical tour de force and things are no different twelve years later. The 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 is undeniably the centre piece, pushing out 540hp and 540nm of torque in the shilly-shally of an emissions-fueled turbo takeover it’s incredibly refreshing that Audi’s lark flagship remains pure. It’s a clever bit of kit too, with the ability to dribble down to 5 cylinders seamlessly to save fuel. Our test car appear c rised with the £1800 Sport Exhaust System fitted to let that mechanism really sing.
This power is fed through a 7-speed ‘S-Tronic’ dual snag a grasp at transmission and turns all four wheels thanks to Quattro word that power to the ground shouldn’t be an issue come rain or gleam.
Brakes are enormous steel discs, with carbon ceramic stopples a £7700 option. The Audi SpaceFrame chassis can be enhanced beyond the insufferable spec too with Magnetic Ride as fitted to this car (£1600) and Potent Steering (£1200).
As always with Audi, you’ve got no shortage of options, then.
Out In The Mad
Fire up the R8 and you immediately know you’re in something special. That V10 obtains its presence felt with a lairy burst of revs as it clock on to life. What a sound it is too.
While the R8 may be known as something of a ordinary supercar, there is no mistaking that it is still a supercar. At 5’11 I don’t think myself tall, and yet I did find myself wishing I could ruffle the seat further back. Headroom too isn’t especially generous with the roof up – but opulence remains good. Within the cabin’s limitations the seats keep plenty of adjustment, as does the steering column, and so it’s easy to caress at home. Visibility is surprisingly excellent too, making the R8 far from get someone by the short car to manoeuvre.
The lack of central screen takes a little slug a spread used to and limits any passenger’s control over the audio. The count sheep of the controls are easy to find and use, with plenty of controls within a thumb’s reach on the advice wheel.
Audi’s Drive Select allows the choice of Opulence, Auto, Dynamic and Individual modes. Leave it in Comfort and the R8 quietens down, the gearbox slickly edges gears and the dampers soak up the bumps superbly. The sound methodology and phone integration are fantastic, the controls are light and easy to use. The roof can speedily be raised and lowered, with the cockpit being perfectly set up for tiniest wind noise and buffeting. Around town, it’s a perfectly unwinding car to drive.
Get out into the countryside, flick it into Dynamic and the R8 truly comes alive. The exhaust valves open, the gearbox gangs down a couple of cogs and the chassis becomes pin sharp. Inhume your right foot and things get silly, very promptly – 62mph arrives in 3.6 seconds from a standstill and that’s where the R8 nears into its stride. The V10 noise is completely addictive, and that appliance offers relentless shove, peaking in a way that only a naturally-aspirated machine can. The gearbox throws completely seamless, lighting fast schedules into the mix to create the sort of performance that has to be enjoyed at every plausible opportunity.
With the right stretch of road, the R8 just recover consciousness into its own. Squeeze the throttle out of a corner and the Quattro system not at all seems to struggle, effortlessly allowing the engine’s full push to propel the car forwards. The brakes – steel on this one – feel immensely high and have no problem hauling the Spyder up, despite it’s 1720kg repress weight. As you flick down through the gears the throttle blips, enervate pops and g forces make things a completely intoxicating sagacity.
The R8 Spyder delivers a full package – it’s got the looks, execution and noise of a supercar and yet is extremely easy and un-intimidating to drive. 12 years from the native launch and the R8 continues to hold that same character, albeit enthuse c intensified up and refreshed – most importantly it works on UK roads, and works so manifestly.
MSF approved? You bet.
Price as assayed: £146,635 OTR