I love the way the Audi R8 drives, but unless I’m looking at it head on, I just don’t like the way it looks. It’s way too fussy for me and too jarring with angles and panels all over the place.
I was sharing this opinion with a senior motor industry bloke the other day and his response was fascinating. He reckoned I should forget about what Audi’s 911-rival looks like, it’s mere existence proves that the company is leaving arch-rival BMW for dead at the moment.
This is a chap who’s opinion counts for a lot. He’s run three major car companies and also spent a good chunk of his career working for BMW itself. And his perspective is that Munich has lost its direction – and that has allowed Audi to move in and plug the gaps.
He wanted to know where BMW’s mid-engined supercar is. It might not be a big money-spinner, but it would add some much-needed halo status to the brand. Something that, in his view, isn’t being provided by the current range of M-Powered saloons and coupes – nor by the company’s F1 activities.
I’ve got some sympathy with this view. Many of us have wondered why a company that makes such good-to-drive saloons has always struggled with sports cars: Z3 and Z4 anyone?
But they’ve all been strong sellers nonetheless. And is BMW’s image flagging? I’m not so sure. But I’m pretty certain that supercars don’t really solve anything. I’m glad Audi makes the R8, but the company would still have a stellar image if they took it off the market tomorrow.