This is Audi's first mid-engined sports car, the R8 - but you'll have to wait a little longer if you want a Lamborghini-rivalling V10 version.Le Mans legends Jacky Ickx and Tom Kristensen helped to unveil the R8 in Paris, but the only model on show featured a 420bhp V8 similar to that found in the RS4. That ought to be enough for most people (and it's priced squarely against Porsche's Carrera 4 S), but Audi sources have already admitted that a V10 version of the R8 (whose origins lie with the Lambo Gallardo) is still in the pipeline, and likely to appear in 2008.
More of the car that is on offer, though: the R8 has four-wheel drive as standard and is available with either a manual 'box or R tronic transmission, essentially the next evolution of the sequential manual system found in the Gallardo. Options will include active dampers and, probably by the end of 2007, ceramic brakes. Audi claims that the mid-engined layout results in a front:rear weight distribution of 44:56.
The V8 motor is clearly visible through the rear glass and Audi is even offering the option of LED lighting to show off the engine bay more effectively. Onlookers will need to be quick to catch a glimpse, though - 62mph can be reached in just 4.6sec, and the R8 can hit a top speed of 187mph.
Eight metallic paint colours will be available, each with an accompanying 'blade' of alternate colour just beyond the doors. Two universal 'blades' (including carbon fibre) will be available alongside all paint schemes. German models will come with 18in wheels but the UK editions will have 19in as standard.
Prices will start at around £76,000 for the manual version and around £81,000 for the R tronic model. But the 2007 model allocation has already been oversubscribed - Audi says it's taken over 500 deposits at UK dealers. Expect to see the first examples on UK roads by next June.