Standard equipment includes 19in alloys, xenon headlights and leather seats. Be wary of the optional magnetic ride system. There are enough reports of it failing expensively in later life to make the standard set-up the smarter choice.
In late 2008 Audi dipped its hands into Lamborghini’s parts bin again and brought out the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V10, detuned to 517bhp. Thus fitted, the R8’s 0-62mph sprint plunged to 3.9sec (for the manual version) and the top speed soared to 196mph. Magnetic ride suspension is standard, as are LED headlights. The R8 was having a ball, and to prove it, Audi raised the roof to create the V10 Spyder the following year. Next, in 2010, came the rare, stripped-out, 552bhp V10 GT coupé with R tronic automatic gearbox and a 0-62mph time of 3.6sec.
Then, when everyone thought Audi had forgotten about the V8, in came a revised version with 424bhp, a 0-62mph time of 4.5sec and a new energy recuperation system to help it secure EU5 emissions sign-off. A Spyder version appeared at the same time, followed by the Spyder GT.
It was all change in 2012 with the arrival of the refreshed R8. Out went the optional R tronic transmission, replaced by the infinitely superior seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto. New LED lights across the range, a restyled exhaust, new grille, sat-nav and Bluetooth took care of the nice bits. The V8 and V10 engines remained the same, but the lighter, more compact S tronic ’box helped to reduce CO2 emissions (VED is still £515 for all versions, though).
At the same time, the new R8 V10 Plus, offering 535bhp and a 0-62mph time of 3.5sec in S tronic form, became the flagship of the range, at least until the 562bhp V10 LMX special edition arrived in 2014. Nice – but not as sweet as a well-bought 2007 V8 manual for £39,000.
An expert’s view...
SAM HOWELL, PRESTIGE CARS KENT
“R8s are are quick, easy to drive, reliable and reasonably cheap to run. We sold one recently with a £1000 annual servicing and warranty package. That’s good value for a supercar. We’ll buy any age, any mileage, any spec. The V8 is really strong. We’ve just bought a V10 Spyder. The engine sounds glorious, but I reckon that’s its only advantage over the V8. It’s certainly no quicker in the real world. An early V8 manual is the best buy and a future classic.”
Generally bulletproof, but a few V8s suffered bottom-end bearing failure. Listen for noises. Oil lines to cooler, at rear left, can rust through. Beware cars with extended two-year/19k-mile service history; annual services best. Faulty ignition coils can cause misfires.