Audi R8

Fantastic handling, outstanding performance and looks that stop traffic, the R8 is an outstanding car

If one car signifies how far Audi has come in the 29 years since the original Quattro was unleashed, it’s the R8. The mid-engined two-seater is a top-flight supercar to rival the best in the world, and it has elevated Audi to new levels of performance and desirability.

With quattro a recognised brand, and years of experience building aluminium-bodied road cars, the firm felt the time was right to make its ultimate high-performance machine. And the R8 is a genuine triumph: even now, two years after it was introduced, its stunning looks are enough to stop traffic. Plus, the cabin is beautifully crafted and the quality is superb.

Look through the glass engine cover and you will find the same 4.2-litre V8 that powered the RS4. It revs eagerly and is even more tuneful than before. Performance is scintillating: in our 2007 road test (Issue 960) we recorded a 0-60mph sprint time of 4.3 seconds, and the R8 has a top speed of 187mph.

With a choice of manual or twin-clutch R tronic transmissions there’s an R8 for everyone. But it’s the traditional open-gate six-speed manual that will appeal to keen drivers – the light clutch and smooth shift action make it far more user-friendly than you would expect.

The beauty of the R8 is that no other supercar is so accessible. It flatters inexperienced drivers with its perfectly weighted controls, four-wheel-drive traction and unbelievable grip. Yet take it to the limit on the track and it comes alive. It rewards experienced motorists as the quattro system sends enough power to the rear to allow controllable tail slides, and few other mid-engined cars are as balanced or poised. Plus, with the Magnetic Ride option, the suspension absorbs bumps in a way you simply don’t expect from a serious performance car.

Brilliant to drive, stunning to look at and wonderfully engineered, Audi’s first supercar is a masterpiece. It’s the culmination of 100 years of automotive manufacturing – and with the even faster V10 model now on sale, there’s clearly more to come as the company enters its second century in business


WHY: Audi's first stab at a production supercar is a winner

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