Audi R8

One of the world’s most desirable cars is still a strong contender.

  • AUDI is the most attractive car of our trio; the cabin is finely crafted and well designed.
  • Practicality is not an R8 strong point; the low volumes in which Audi sells the R8 are the only green plus point.

DROP dead gorgeous. That’s the only way to describe the final member of our supercar trio. When it comes to drawing town centre crowds, Audi’s R8 wipes the floor with virtually any model, regardless of price.

And that’s exactly the kind of euphoria Nissan bosses hope the GT-R will be able to achieve. The R8 started life on the silver screen in the hit 2004 movie I, Robot, and still looks as futuristic as anything else on the road. While it’s wider than both of its competitors here, the Audi is only 1,252mm high, and details like the clear glass engine cover and short nose provide it with the presence of a thoroughbred supercar.

Slip inside and that impression continues. While the dashboard resembles a squashed version of that in the TT, the low-slung seat and tactile, open gearlever gate let you know that this is a very special car indeed. But you’ll only be able to share the experience with one passenger – and they had better not bring much luggage. A Porsche 911-style boot is located at the front, although it provides room for a pitiful 100 litres of luggage.

All will be forgiven, however, as soon as you turn the key. The 4.2-litre V8 engine roars into life behind your head, first gear engages with a distinctive click from the chrome lever and you are away.

Audi offers its two-pedal automated manual transmission in the R8, but it takes away so much involvement from the driver that we would recommend sticking with the conventional manual box – especially as it’s £5,200 cheaper!

The 1,560kg R8 is the lightest car of our trio by more than 100kg, and its 414bhp power output makes for sparkling straight-line performance. It takes more skill to achieve a clean getaway in the all-wheel-drive Audi than it does in either two-pedal rival, although once up and running, the R8 still managed to complete the sprint from 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds.

Even more tantalising is what this car does with its power on the road. While the steering isn’t quite as sharp as the GT-R’s, it’s much more direct than that of the XKR-S, allowing the mid-engined model to corner with near-perfect precision.

It’s easy to drive too, with a much more comfortable ride than the Nissan and good visibility. But manoeuvring into tight spots would be tricky without the £1,250 parking sensors and rear view camera package.

And that’s only the start of the options list. Considering the R8 costs £78,300, its miserly standard kit tally is unforgivable. Our test car had £11,260 worth of extras.

The R8 remains one of the greatest sub-£100,000 supercars. But when it’s so much more costly than the Nissan, its place at the top of the class looks under threat.

Details

Price: £78,300Chart position: 2WHY: One of the best-looking supercars around is also one of the finest to drive. The R8 has storming V8 power to match.

Economy

WHILE running cost figures aren’t available for either the GT-R or XKR-S, the R8 sets an expensive benchmark of nearly £2 per mile! Dismal fuel economy of 17.5mpg is par for the course in this test. So are the hefty 373g/km CO2 emissions – buyers of Audi’s hottest model will face big tax bills whether they run it as a company car or purchase it privately. A year’s disc costs £400 on the Audi and the Jag, while higher-rate fleet users will pay £10,962 to run the R8 annually. It’s a safe place for your money, though – residuals of more than 60 per cent are impressive.

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