Not quite as accomplished as Porsche's finest, but stunningly good nonetheless.

What's new?

What isn’t? Audi’s first supercar takes the brand into a whole new part of the market – this is the most radical road-goer to wear four rings since records began.

Based around various components shared with the (Audi-engineered) Lamborghini Gallardo, the R8 uses a mid-mounted, dry-sumped version of the RS4’s 4.2-litre FSI V8 engine to deliver stunning performance: 0-62mph takes a claimed 4.6 seconds and the top speed (unencumbered by one of those pesky 155mph limiters) is reckoned to be a whopping 187mph. Wearing a £76,725 price tag in manual form it’s priced hard against the heartland of the Porsche 911 range – so should you cancel that Carrera 4S?

What's it like?

In a word: great. In two words: really great. Despite the supercar underpinnings and the sight of the mid-mounted V8 under a Ferrari-alike glass cover, the R8 drives more like a sports car. It delivers agility and massive cornering grip, but matches this to impressive high-speed refinement and the sort of comfort necessary to devour trans-continental journeys at a sitting. (The 90-litre fuel tank even gives a decent 300-mile-plus range between filling station stops.)

The R8 likes to get its teeth into the twistier stuff, too, cornering with the sort of poise and precision that no road-going Audi has offered before. And, best of all, the four-wheel drive system’s rear-biased torque delivery means it can even be induced to deliver a bit of painlessly corrected power oversteer.

So is it as good as a Porsche 911? As a total package it’s desperately close to having the measure of Weissach’s finest – the design will turn heads on the sort of streets where a 911 wouldn’t rate a second glance. But next to the Porsche the steering lacks a bit in the way of feel and the Audi can’t match the 911’s perfect interplay between throttle and cornering line.

Should I buy one?

Definitely. If you’re already on the waiting list then well done, the R8 looks set to become 2007’s must-have supercar and we reckon early buyers are likely to enjoy substantial premiums come resale. And if you’re not on the list already? Well, presuming you’ve got £76,000 burning a hole in your pocket and a sports car-shaped space in the garage then join the back of the lengthening queue…

Mike Duff

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coffee 10 July 2013

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Ruined 14 January 2008

Re: Audi R8 4.2

Not sure why the Audi R8 4.2 has featured in your "First Drive" today - it's been around in the UK for months now. Surely this is a mistake?