Forget the pumped-up TT jibes: the R8 may come from the maker of sensible SUVs, saloons and hatchbacks, but it’s without a doubt one of the most exciting supercars around. To sit in it and drive it is evidence enough of this, but to hear it at full pelt is to fall in love.
This second-generation R8 has been around since 2015, with an open-top Spyder variant for fresh-air freaks launched a year later. Its defining characteristic, at least initially, was its quattro four-wheel drive system and its wonderful naturally aspirated and deeply sonorous 5.2-litre V10. Truth be told, it’s something of a belter, this engine, which was initially available with 532bhp or, in the R8 Plus, 602bhp. An update in 2019 increased the oomph even more, to 562bhp and 611bhp in the renamed Performance.
Unsurprisingly, the R8 goes like stink: every version can hit 60mph from a standstill in around 3.0sec and top 200mph. The only letdown is an occasionally jerky dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
And the R8 isn’t just about straight-line speed: it also corners brilliantly, with a graceful fluidity. It rides well, too, and despite it being about as wide as Belgium, you won’t need the arms of a boxer to steer it, because its wheel is delightfully light.
In 2018, Audi added a rear-wheel-drive version. Limited to 999 examples, the RWS was available in both bodystyles. Thoroughly re-engineered and much lighter and more agile, it quickly became the R8 of choice for the keener driver, despite using the less powerful version of the V10. Just this year, a superficially similar updated car called the RWD became a full-time member of the R8 range.
Despite the R8 being a bona fide supercar, practicality isn’t a major issue. There’s a decent amount of space for a couple of weekend bags under the bonnet, plus a shelf behind the rear seats. You’ll also find a number of useful cubbies dotted around the cabin. Every R8 features electrically adjustable, heated leather seats, sat-nav, a DAB radio, climate control and LED headlights. However, despite this car costing as much as a modest house when it was new, cruise control and a rear-view camera were paid extras.