AUDI R8: a week with a supercar

642911_au012999THE wait was excruciating. Having to sit around for hour after hour waiting for one of the finest – if not THE finest – offerings from Audi to arrive.

But then that distinctive burbling of an idling V10 came into earshot as it pulled up on the drive, the R8 resplendent in crystal effect paintwork and visibly sporting as much carbon fibre as you’ll find on an out and out race car.

Which is what this can be, in the right hands on the right track. But not for the purpose of this appraisal.

642891_au012994Its arrival has the effect of turning the clock back 50 years, you’re a schoolboy again and you’re nervously rubbing your hands on your trouser legs again and thinking ‘I want one of those. I REALLY want one of those’.

That’s the effect the Audi R8 has on grown men. Actually, on pretty well all of the population, come to that.

If ever a car was a real head turner, though not in the Omen sense, then this is it. I can recall the launch of the original R8 in the south of France a few years ago, and as we drove through small towns and villages there were gaping mouths and spilt cups of coffee.

Fast forward a year or so and the arrival of the V10 engined supercar in an otherwise sleepy Spanish mountain village had the locals positively dumbstruck over its super sexy shape and reaching for their cameras.

Somewhere in southern Spain that week the local branch of Snappy Snaps was very busy developing frame after frame of a rather nice red car.

643404_au012878DAY TWO: How do you deploy 610ps, other than very carefully on the public highway? This is a far more brutal R8 than the one I remember from that initial launch in the south of France back in 2006. That then was a V8, whereas today’s car has two extra cylinders, a seven speed S-tronic gearbox, and the ability to see the wrong side of 200mph.

Be thankful then that it comes with that all-important safety feature – the brake pedala realistic and well used way of hauling things to a safe stop courtesy of the ceramic brakes attached to the hubs.

But for all its phenomenal performance, it’ll happily amble round town and in heavy traffic, giving little hint of its out and out ability.

DAY THREE: It’s got a great sound system – and I don’t mean the Bang and Olufsen one. That will assault your ears, fair enough, but that’s nothing to the battering they get when you select dynamic mode and couple it with the sport engine setting.

963656_r8150113As the gases build up behind your left lughole before winding their way down and out through the four tail pipes concealed in the carbon fibre diffuser, the exhaust crackles and spits as the engine comes back down through the gears. It shouts ‘power’ to anyone within earshot, and then when you switch it all off there’s that subtle trademark Audi pulsing heartbeat as silence sets in, just the gentle pinging of hot parts taking a rest permeating the night air.

DAY FOUR: R8 is a mid engine two seater supercar with quattro four wheel drive, and a big red button on the steering wheel to fire it up. Too much exercise of your right foot will see the scenery start to hurtle towards you at an alarming rate, but switch yourself from hooligan to OAP (I know one who bought one) and the commensurate ride is much more restrained, positively civilised, though depending on the chassis setting selected it can be a touch wallowy if you encounter a speed bump or two.

642975_au013015DAY FIVE: Today we see 20.9mpg up on the trip computer on a cross country run to drive another super quick two seater. There were similarities twixt the two, latent speed and outright expense being two of them, but the Audi has the benefit of that quattro system which allows you to punch it through corners and revel in its grip and poise.

DAY SIX: Time to consult the spec list, staring with the £132,715 price tag for the V10 plus 5.2 FSI. Add in a few options from the extensive list like the gloss carbon engine bay trim at £2950 and the £2400 alcantara headlining with its stitched diamond design and you’re soon up to and over the £150,000 mark.

DAY SEVEN: So, a supercar you really could use every day if you can display the restraint necessary and not constantly dip into its seamless spread of sheer power. It hardly ever feels like it’s having to work too hard to impress. And impress it still does.

FASTFACTS: Audi R8 V10 plus: £132,715; 5204cc dry sump V10, gasoline direct injection, 610ps, 560Nm; seven speed S tronic gearbox; top speed 205mph, 0-62mph 3.2secs; fuel – urban 14.2, extra urban 32.8, combined 21.9; CO2 287g/km; will it fit the garage? Build a new one with a big padlock if it doesn’t!

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