Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


 



Life is gR8. Image by Kyle Fortune.

Life is gR8
Audi's flagship sports car may lack the breeding of Porsche, Maserati and Aston rivals but it's more than a measure for them.

   



<< earlier Audi review     later Audi review >>

Reviews homepage -> Audi reviews

| Week at the Wheel | Audi R8 |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

In the automotive design hierarchy, Audi features highly, and the R8 is rightfully at the top of the pile. It's absolutely gorgeous. The proportions might initially jar a little in profile - the contrasting 'sideblade' doing its bit to lessen the large expanse of bodywork that spans the rear of the cabin to the rear wheel - but the weird proportions are like the quirks that make supermodels so beguiling in their look. The R8 is simply stunning, even in the red hue we're not particular fans of.

That Audi has so successfully integrated its design language into a sleek mid-engined machine is hugely impressive; that it's done so and steals the thunder from cars costing many times more than the R8 is doubly so. The R8 will go down as a landmark car in Audi's design timeline, just like the original TT and ur-Quattro have before it. The attention to detail is exceptional. For example, the engine bay is a demonstration of neat, functional design while the interior underlines why everyone gushes over the fit, finish and fixtures inside any car wearing a four-ringed badge. It's not the most spacious though, luggage space in particular being very limited - the front compartment doesn't hold much.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

The 4.2-litre V8 FSI mounted under glass in the middle of the R8 is closely related to that of the much-praised RS4. It develops 414bhp at a fairly heady 7,800rpm, but the high peak power doesn't mean low-rev flexibility. Indeed, the R8's V8 has a decent spread of mid-range muscle, the 317lb.ft of torque it offers from 4,500-6,000rpm meaning it's got decent in-gear performance. If anything it's a touch too linear in its delivery; there is no sweet spot in the rev range where all hell breaks loose and the R8 goes feral. That does make it easy to drive though, the predictable engine responses meaning no surprises to catch you out unawares. It'll do 62mph in 4.7 seconds and reach 187mph, though it never feels that fast.

Either an S tronic paddle-shift gearbox or a six-speed manual can be mated to that V8. The manual is the better option by far, as the Lamborghini-sourced paddle-shifter feels crude in comparison to the best on offer from rival products. The clacking of the open gate on the manual gets a bit tiresome though, especially as it's one of the few noises you'll hear when shifting cogs, as the V8 rather lacks in voice. Like all of Audi's performance cars the R8 features a quattro four-wheel drive transmission, though here drive is biased predominantly to the rear to give it the feel of a rear-wheel drive car.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

Audis aren't exactly noted for excelling in either ride or handling. The R8 is different - at least when it's fitted with the sensational optional magnetic damper system. It's a must if you want your R8 to provide luxury car suppleness combined with the sort of accuracy and solid body control you'd expect from a low-slung sports car. Forget hitting the Sport button though, as all it does is firm up the R8 to the point of discomfort - fine for a smooth track, not so clever on what passes for roads here in the UK.

It might feature quattro four-wheel drive but torque is only apportioned to the front wheels when it's absolutely needed - even in extreme use only 35% of the engine's grunt is sent to the front axle. That gives it a rear-drive feel, so the R8 can be power oversteered with the same wild abandon as you can its competitors. You'll need a big track with lots of space to do so though, as the R8's grip limits are very high indeed. On the road there's a touch of initial understeer, which if leaned on transfers to neutrality. The R8 is an easy car to drive quickly as a result, with the steering sharp but not so incisive to provoke nervousness, the feel you get from the R8 is not quite as rich in detail as in rivals like Porsche's 911.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

There really isn't such a thing as a standard R8. Sure, the basics are included, but you'll need to spend a few pounds to make it the best R8 it can be. Key on the options list is the magnetic dampers, and while you're at it you might as well have the lighting package that illuminates the engine bay (it might sound tacky but is cool), Audi's parking sensors, satnav, more leather and upgraded audio. We could go on. Figure on spending at least another 10-15,000 on the list price. Even so it shouldn't lose you too much money: the R8 holds its value well thanks to limited availability. It'll hurt at the pumps and for tax though, the R8 gulping down expensive 98 RON unleaded at an official rate of 19.3mpg and emitting 349g/km of CO2. That's significantly more than its Porsche 911 Carrera S rival.

Overall: star star star star star

Audi's flagship sports car is as beautiful to look at as it is to drive. It's almost too accomplished and easy for hardcore drivers, but that's part of its enormous appeal for most buyers. There's real talent underneath that easy nature too, the R8 delivering like no Audi before. We'd have one.

Kyle Fortune - 19 Nov 2008



  www.audi.co.uk    - Audi road tests
- Audi news
- R8 images

2008 Audi R8 specifications:
Price: 79,075 on-the-road (manual)
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 187mph
Combined economy: 19.3mpg
Emissions: 349g/km
Kerb weight: 1560kg

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi R8. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2023 ©