Audi R8 vs Porsche 911 Turbo
Audi's all-new V10-engined R8 roars in to take on the sports car king, the latest Porsche 911 Turbo...
Audi R8 5.2 FSI V10 quattro S tronic
List price £119,520
Target Price £115,400
All-new R8 looks relatively good value and has stupendous, high-revving engine.
Porsche 911 Turbo PDK
List price £127,630
Target Price £127,630
Now with even more power, the 911 Turbo is more devastatingly rapid than ever.
For decades the Porsche 911 has been the benchmark to which other sports cars aspired. However, there are now markedly different 911 versions, and the four-wheel-drive powerhouse that is the 911 Turbo could be worthy of supercar status.
The 911’s petite 3.8-litre twin-turbo engine officially propels it from 0-62mph in 3.0sec. That’s half a second faster than the all-new R8. Even in its ‘cheapest’ form, the Audi now has a huge 5.2-litre V10 engine, so the argument for calling it a supercar is stronger than ever, too.
Sports car or supercar - the category these two fall into may be up for debate, but which car is best?
What are they like to drive?
These cars don’t so much accelerate as detonate. Both have seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic gearboxes and clever launch control systems. When tested in the rain, it was the R8 that flung itself off the line fastest. It hit 60mph in 3.2sec, whereas the 911 lost time squirming away from the line, and managed the sprint in 3.5sec.
Wider experience tells us that in dry conditions it would be a different story, though, and there’s no doubting the joys of the 911’s savage 532bhp engine. It's able to deliver a hammer-blow of acceleration, although it isn’t too highly strung to be driven smoothly around town or on your favourite country road.
However, the R8 still has the better engine. Its naturally aspirated 533bhp V10 revs to 8500rpm (the 911’s stops at 6800rpm), giving the car a frenetic race-car like feel; it’s packed with character and hugely addictive.
Predictably, the mid-engined R8 turns in to bends more sharply than the rear-engined 911. In fact, the R8 has more grip in general; it feels almost magnetised to the road, sticking rigidly to a neutral line even through high-speed direction changes. Some might even wish for a little more playfulness – a bit more slip at the rear wheels to give that sense that the car is giving you full control when you want a true, purist driving experience.
In this respect, the 911 has the more exciting handling. Sure, its front wheels wash wide earlier than the R8’s through fast corners, but you can lightly tap the accelerator to help point the nose of the car where you want it to go.
The experience is never too intimidating, and the 911’s heavier, more confidence-inspiring steering also impresses when you’re driving quickly. The R8’s lighter steering delivers an easy fluidity and more feedback at normal road speeds, however, which makes it the more enjoyable and rewarding car to drive much of the time.
The R8 also has better body control, although its flat cornering doesn’t come at the cost of comfort. Our test car rode on standard ‘passive’ dampers (there’s an adaptive system on the options list), which soften the majority of bumps surprisingly well and keep the car settled most of the time.
The 911 is fitted with adaptive dampers as standard, but it always leans fractionally more through fast corners and its ride is firmer, particularly at low speeds; it’s here that you’ll wish its suspension had a softer setting.
Exhaust note is just as critical for cars that are bought for their feel-good factor, and it’s the R8 that sounds best. The V10 delivers a symphonic, crescendoing war cry (aided on our car by its £1800 sports exhaust), which tempts you to go out of your way to find tunnels and high walls to amplify the sound. Menacing as the 911’s bassy resonance is, it never manages to sound quite as thrilling.
Surprisingly, it’s also the R8 that’s quieter when you’re cruising, mainly because its tyres kick up less road noise, although the 911 does have the smoother gearshifts in slow or mid-pace driving.