The Audi R8 did not build the brand. The formidable glaze coating of Ingolstadt’s reputation was baked long before it indulged an impulse to make a bona fide mid-engined sports car.
But when it did, when the result proved exceptional and exciting and idiosyncratic, it was concrete evidence that Audi was indeed capable of almost anything.
The R8, in its original V8 format, was an automotive attestation of the boldest sort: the Porsche 911’s status is not sacrosanct and that firm's path to driving nirvana isn’t the sole means of ascent.
Quattro GmbH had conceived of another way and Audi rallied the ambition, expertise and investment required to make it happen.
Now, nine years on from the original R8’s introduction, it has retooled for a second run, tweaking much in a car whose design clearly continues to owe a substantial debt to the look of its predecessor. Its reason for being is slightly different, though.
Porsche has gone from rival to relative, and so the requirement for a more modest V8-powered variant to challenge the Carrera has gone, too.