Every ambitious car manufacturer in the heady pre-credit-crunch opening years of the 21st century aimed to put a supercar on the road, and Audi was no exception. By 2006 the German company had perfected its pitch to acquisitive city traders. The R8 was a mid-engined two-door sports coupe, which was based on the Le Mans quattro concept car presented in 2003. The new speedster was allowed to assume the hallowed name of Audi’s R8 racing car.
The R8’s styling was fairly typical of many a mid-sized sporting coupe, but no less pleasing for that. It was hand-built on the Audi Space Frame for lightness and the initial engine offering was an advanced FSI (Fuel-Stratified Injection) 4.2 litre V8 that developed 414 bhp. The manual six-speed transmission version had a Ferrari-style metal gate for gear shifting, while the alternative R-tronic gearbox was a semi-automatic sequential manual system.
The car employed the company’s famous Quattro all-wheel drive system to deliver impressive performance, ride quality and handling precision that had many motoring writers and self-appointed experts declaring that the R8 was superior to the class-leading Porsche 997 —an accolade that doubtless delighted Audi. But this wasn’t enough. The company couldn’t resist a quick return to the well, and an FSI 5.2 litre V10 version of the R8 was offered from the end of 2008. This upped the R8’s power output to 518 bhp with a corresponding increase in performance, whilst styling was tweaked to give the R8 a more aggressive look.
A 6 litre turbodiesel R8 TDI Le Mans concept car was presented at motoring shows in 2008, and that was also the year when one of those persistent auto paparazzi the manufacturers love to hate snapped a badly disguised convertible version of the R8 undergoing a road test — watch this space.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
4,163 cc V8; 5,204 cc V10
With 5.2 I engine – top speed of 196 mph (316 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Serious students of the sports car will note that the Audi R8 shares a fifth of its DNA with Audi-owned Lamborghini’s Gallardo, for the R8 is built on a Gallardo platform and the two dashing sports cars have several features, such as transmission, in common.