There's Something Seriously Wrong With The Audi R8
I talk negatively about Audi's a fair bit. Anyone who knows me personally knows I've had a couple of bad experiences with Audi. Okay, they aren't just bad experiences, they're detrimental. But here's the thing, I own an Audi. I have first hand experience about the good and the bad. And there's a lot of good. But there's also a lot of bad. There are also select cars on the Audi range that I adore. They're cars that are at the top of my buying list and I personally think are manufactured and designed perfectly. This is where I end up being the outlier. The Audi R8 is not one of those cars.
In fact, looks aside (because let's be honest both iterations of the R8 look fantastic), I think when you put it against most other semi-super cars it actually lags behind the crowd significantly. I'll start by saying it's not because of performance. The latest Audi R8 Plus packs it's 10 cylinder 5.2 litre engine into some fantastic mid-engine Volkswagen Group super car genius. For this generation of super car it's full aspirated 0-100km time is fantastic as well. It hits that target in 3.2 seconds, which is blistering.
The main problem I have with the physical being of the Audi R8 is the handling. Because it really isn't that good, in fact it's downright scary. There are two elements to that bugger up, and part of me wants to say they're both as a result of the 300 million computers the car has controlling every aspect of it's performance. But then another part of me argues the previous iteration of the Audi R8 has exactly the same issues.
The first part is the ride. I'm a 26 year old, so I'm not old at any stretch. But I do live in a half provincial / rural area and as a result whilst we are classed as a city, and all roads are asphalted, they aren't that great. Worse still I spend a good chunk of my time at a beach house which is even more rural. But with that in mind I've driven quite a few sports and super cars on those roads. The Jaguar F-Type SVR for example, the BMW i8, the BMW M4 and M2 competition, the Honda NSX and Nissan GTR. I have never had a problem with the ride of any of those cars, or any super car on our roads. Until I drove the Audi R8. No matter what setting I have the suspension on I feel like my teeth are being shaken out of place and my ass is getting a workout similar to one of those machines you see on an infomercial.
I also have a massive problem with the steering. See the Jaguar F-Type whilst it is very much a big bulky super car, it steers quite delicately. It has feedback but that feedback is sort of like your partner rolling onto your chest in the morning and gently waking you up. It's very refined and the turning circle is quite a good one as well. When you're driving the R8 it feels like you're constantly being shouted at by a German. I'm German myself so it shouldn't fuss me so much but it get's even worse when you aren't driving it fast and then when you try to make a u-turn or heaven forbid a three point turn all you hear is "NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN". It is simply terrifying. That coupled with the bad vision you have in every super car makes you think "I could never do this day to day".
With that in mind, Audi's plush cross stitched leather and the interior is ridiculously polished, high quality and comfortable (when the car isn't moving). But then again this is the 21st century right? Every super car you get in is going to be like that. If you're going to base a purchase on the interior it needs to have something special that makes you go wow.
Like BMW's new crystal gear knob in the 8 series. Or Land Rover's dual touch screen (a feature they were the first to do). Volvo's fantastically stitched leather steering wheel, Ferrari's different but special gear lever, Aston Martin's gorgeous leather stitching pattern and contrast and Jaguar's wrap around dash. They all have something that makes you think yes, I'm in a Land Rover, or I'm in a BMW. I can't really say that for an Audi or for the R8. Some Audi fans might argue that the Virtual Cockpit is that feature in an Audi but the truth is I associate that with the Volkswagen Tiguan (because that was the first car to feature a Virtual Cockpit).
Anyway, I can forgive the Audi R8's bad ride and handling because I know it's a track car. I know it goes well on the grid. And I know this because I've driven one on the track. It feels sublime on the track. But once again so do other super cars. Thing is those other cars also feel good to drive day to day. The Audi R8 just doesn't at all. And that coupled with the fact that there's nothing that special about the car apart from it's looks? Makes me think why would you buy this car over the similarly priced Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar or BMW.
Worse still I have another question. I mentioned above there is a couple of Audi's I adore. One of those Audi's is the RS6. A car I believe that despite being years old and should be slightly outdated is still one of the best cars that money can buy. Because it is really special. It was the fastest shooting brake on earth for years. And it still is blistering - 0-100km in 3.9 seconds blistering. That's faster than any super- SUV with the same boot space and comfort.
Not just that but Audi made everything in that car comfortable. The leather is the same style of beautiful stitching you would find in an R8. The steering wheel is grippy and plush. The seats have suede on them and the infotainment system whilst basic was also very simple and worked every single time. The gear lever itself was Audi's old round gear lever which made you feel like you were driving a mustang with an 8-ball gear lever and the deal clutch gear shifts were the wrong way around. Up was up a gear and down was down a gear (something that is reversed in every other car with a gear lever which also controls the dual clutch gear changes). It has this unmistakable personality which does nothing but makes you smile.
But that isn't the best thing about the RS6 Avant. Oh no, the best thing is you didn't feel pretentious or boasted for driving one. Because it's a sleeper. You'd have yobbs in Ferrari's rolling up beside you trying to totally ignore the car because they think it's embarrassing. But then you'd put your foot down, blow the Ferrari out of the water and instead of, whoever that owner may be, giving you road rage? They'd give you respect. They'd roll up to the next set of lights, have a good peak inside and think "bloody hell, I think I'm going to go and buy one of those Audi's". That's one thing no Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren or even Aston Martin owner had ever done before. And that is very very special.
So here's my question. Why would you date the big, boisterous, humorless Audi R8? When her older, much more mature, beautiful and smile inducing sister can be yours instead? I'll break it down even further for you in a way most would understand it. The Audi R8 is the popular girl at school. The Audi RS6 avant is the girl next door.