The first Audi R8, in the manufacturer’s own words, was like a “spaceship” landing in its lineup in 2007. Heads turned, eyes popped, and Audi was catapulted into a new market.
While the original R8 came with the option of a V8 engine and a manual gearbox, the car has gradually moved into serious supercar territory. So now it comes only with a monstrous 5.2-litre V10 engine that does without turbochargers, something of a rarity now – and a paddle-operated dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
It has also gained extra power over the years, so that, as of this facelifted 2019 model, it comes with 562bhp in standard guise, or 611bhp in range-topping Performance form. That immense power is still channelled through a quattro four-wheel drive system that’s capable of varying the power it sends to each wheel according to the traction available. By default, most of it goes to the rear wheels.
There’s up-to-date technology, too, including a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system and Audi's Virtual Cockpit, which combines the car’s instruments and infotainment display in a 12.3in screen directly in front of the driver. And while it might not have the four-seat practicality of a Porsche 911, you’ll find a usefully sized boot under the bonnet and a luggage shelf behind the rear seats. It really is surprisingly usable.
So, can it match supercars from Porsche, McLaren and Mercedes for outright driver involvement? Read on over the next few pages to find out, and don't forget to head to our New Car Buying page to see what supercar deals we have that could save you thousands of pounds.
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