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
In this review
- 1IntroductionAudi's new RS5 has been launched on the 30th anniversary of Audi's quattro system. Here we hit the race track in 11 of the best four-wheel-drive cars has ever made...
- 2Audi UR QuattroOne of the first passenger cars to feature four wheel drive, the UR Quattro's engine, looks and handling propelled it to legendary status
- 3Audi Rally QuattroAfter transforming rallying for good, the Rally Quattro went on to win just about everything - with up to 600bhp under the bonnet
- 4Audi Sport QuattroThe 2.1-litre engine in the Sport Quattro produces 307bhp and shoots it to 60mph in 4.8 seconds. Not bad for 1984, or now for that matter
- 5Audi S2 CoupeSmoother S2 was a major departure from original Quattro.
- 6Audi RS2 AvantPorsche and Audi joined forces and engineered the 315bhp RS2 Avant. Less than 3000 were made and even fewer were RHD.
- 7Audi A4 Touring CarFielding an all-wheel drive Audi in the BTCC gave it the notoriety it deserved. It also got 4WD cars banned from entering ever again.
- 8Audi TT SportThe lighter, tuned TT Sport turned the already great TT into a proper drivers' car
- 9Audi RS4 AvantA spiritual successor to the Porsche-tuned RS2, the RS4 Avant blends supercar power with estate practicality
- 10Audi RS6The most powerful production Audi ever belongs in this list for that reason alone
- 11Audi TTSExtra power, sharper steering and better dynamics add extra thrills to the already superb TT
- 12Audi R8 - currently readingFantastic handling, outstanding performance and looks that stop traffic, the R8 is an outstanding car