In the run up to Christmas, I’ve decided to write a little ‘car of the year’ section of my own, dictating what, in my opinion have been the standout performers on four wheels for this year. For the first section I thought I’d begin with something that has really caused genuine surprise and excitement in the industry – the Audi R8.
The R8 is one of the newest vehicles from Audi, and is inspired by one of the most successful Le Mans racing cars of all time. Apparently it has been created from seventy years of motorsport innovation. This is Audi’s fastest ever road production car.
Let’s get over the technical bits before returning to the most fun. A mid-mounted high revving V8 4.2 litre FSI engine, driving from 0-62 in 4.6 seconds and driving to a top speed of 187mph, powers the car. It also uses Audi Quattro intelligent four-wheel drive, pushing power to the wheels where and when needed.
A little bit special is the Audi Magnetic Ride. Essentially you’ve got two options, the ‘Sport’ variant (read harder suspension for tighter suspension and chassis control) whilst the ‘Normal’ version is will be softer and more forgiving for those bumpy roads in the UK. The amazing thing is how the system works – it actually varies the electric charge going through the fluid based shock absorber.
Lets talk about the design for a moment, as after all how the car looks is a huge factor in it being given the crown. Well there’s eight colours to choose from, my personal favourite being Carbon Sigma. The body has a scooped shape, with a definite hint of the new Audi TT – but with much more obvious scooping.
The light have to be seen to be believed, even in daylight you’ve got LED running-lights to show everyone you’ve got something a bit special. The wheels are nineteen inch and the interior is coated in Nappa leather. It is just beautiful; simply amazing. You’ve also got four large exhausts for the engine to breathe which give out a great roar.
So what makes the Audi R8 special? Well the fact remains that beyond the real racetrack, Audi isn’t known for making particularly interesting sports cars. Take the old Audi TT – the Nissan 350Z was always compared to it (reasonably similar performance) and the TT came up lacking. It was and is a good car but unfortunately in the excitement stakes, it just didn’t stir like the Japanese muscle car did.
The R8 is the antithesis of boring. The tactile steering is amazingly full of feel and is perfectly complimented by the manual gearlever that has exposed gates. The option for an R-tronic box is available but come on, choose the ‘real’ option for real driving!
The R8 is reasonably practical as well as being supremely fast as there’s a decently sized boot, space behind the two front seats and security of the same door locks as a Lamborghini Murcielago! The car itself is even scanned using C.T. to make sure that it is perfectly put together before it rolls out of the factory.
The Audi R8 really comes into its own when driven around a track where you can really use the performance. Surprisingly the tail can be kicked out (giving drift) which is very unusual for a four-wheel drive vehicle. All in all, the Audi R8 is genuinely a car that is more than the sum of its parts. It really is a car that needs to be seen, driven and experienced to be believed.