I jumped in the driver’s seat of the new Audi R8… surprised at how willingly the Audi Press team gave me the keys to their top of the range supercar. Expecting to feel overwhelmed and a little nervous (understandably, I was sitting in a £128,000+ V10 supercar), I grabbed the steering wheel and had a quick scan of the cabin trying to take it all in. However, as I did so, I was surprised at how normal everything felt… this was an Audi through and through, apart from a few subtle additions here and there this could have just as easily been an Audi TT or even an S3.
Now this isn’t in no way a bad thing, the cabin is unbelievably high tech, it’s got all the gadgets you’d want in a grand tourer and more. The thick alcantara steering wheel felt fantastic, with the carbon fibre around the air vents helping to make it feel that bit more special. Feeling confident, I reversed the R8 out of its space with the help of the brilliant reversing camera and headed for Millbrook's hill route… the R8 didn’t feel too big or too jumpy under acceleration, it felt just as the Audi representative said, “like a TT at low speeds”.
It was immediately apparent that this truly is a supercar you can live with on a daily basis. However, that begs the question, is it enough of an experience? Is the R8 too easy to drive? For my first time driving a ‘supercar’ or anything with that amount of power, was I too comfortable?
As I mentioned, sitting in the R8 I could have easily been sitting in a TT… that was until I dropped a gear and pushed my foot down on the accelerator. I remember screaming like a 10-year-old, dipping and then releasing the pedal over and over… the instant power from that growling 600bhp, 5.2 litre V10 engine was unwaveringly addictive. When I selected manual mode for the first time, I struggled to shift up quick enough because the thing revs so quickly! I particularly remember pushing it out of the first tight left-hand turn, feeling the wheels squeal about on the tarmac, the four-wheel drive doing everything it could to keep the car going in a straight line… it managed to, but only just about.
But there lies my point, I pushed the Audi R8 as much as I pushed the Megane RS… is it testament to the car that I felt confident enough to do this or to its detriment? Should a supercar put the fear in to you as soon as you step in to it? Or is the Audi R8’s job to drive like a TT at low speeds, but enable you to scream like a 10-year-old when you drop a gear and dip the accelerator?
For me, that’s how you answer the question… what is the R8’s purpose? There are plenty of outright, track focused monsters out there to drive, MrJWW once said you should need an additional driver’s licence to drive the McLaren 675LT, which is great, but that’s not what the Audi R8 is supposed to do or be.
The R8 has often been seen as the ‘entry level’ supercar, one that could just as easily be your daily driver. It’s so easy to live with yet is an absolute beast under the hood – it’s not a track focused car, nor is it a classic car, which you look to for theatre, requiring the upmost thought and engagement to even drive it to the shops. The Audi R8 is a brutish all-rounder with a thirst for speed (and fuel). You still want a supercar, but you want all the comforts of an Audi A6.
What do you think?
If you had £100,000 to spend on a car, would you buy a supercar all-rounder like the Audi R8 or rather a track focused monster?