What is it?
If you’re one of our UK readers, it has probably not escaped your notice that this week has not provided the optimum conditions in which to test a new variant of a junior supercar.
Still, things on these shores were always thus, and if ever there was a mini-exotic which can deal with, y’know, winter and that, it’s the Audi R8. Yes, the engine is in the middle and the Audi comes on 235/35 R19 front and 295/30 R19 tyres, but the R8 has quattro four-wheel drive and at least we’ve driven one on snow and ice before, when Autocar ran a V10 long-termer.
That car was fitted with a manual transmission, which was just as well because the first-generation R8’s two-pedal alternative – a single-clutch automated manual – was a bit of a sluggard. It was fine on a track if you were going flat out, when it pushed through changes acceptably (albeit with a jolt) at high revs, but its lack of smoothness didn’t seem half so clever on the road.
Of the changes made to the R8 for its mid-life facelift, the most significant, then, is the ditching the automated manual gearbox option in favour of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. At £2900, it’s also 40 per cent cheaper than the old auto option, yet, conversely, it is a lot more than 40 per cent better.