Jaco van der Merwe
The new Audi R8 a simplistic modern day super car that combines jet-like dynamism with everyday comfort you will appreciate.
The best way to describe the Audi R8 is to repeat a conversation I overheard in a language I don’t even understand. But this split-second moment in time perfectly sums up this mesmerising vehicle.
While refuelling our test car at a filling station, the petrol attendant’s colleague walked past and spoke to him in what was probably isiZulu in my humble opinion. The sentence finished with “u-aeroplane”. As his colleague answered him with a brisk “u-Audi R8”, I suddenly knew what the rest of the first sentence was about.
“What car is this? It looks like an aeroplane.”
So what is the latest reincarnation of this two-seater, mid-engine aeroplane like on the road? Let’s get the numbers out the way before we get into the rest of the car that officially goes by the name of Audi R8 Coupe V10 performance quattro.
Powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine, the R8 was always going to struggle at the reef. Almost a fifth of its 449 kW of power and 560 Nm of torque that gets send to all four wheels via seven-speed S tronic transmission gets lost at altitude.
Therefore the claimed sprint time of 3.2 seconds getting from 0 to 100 km/h was never under threat. But make no mistake, the end result of 3.51 sec achieved by Road Test Editor Mark Jones at Gerotek is still impressive.
To see the full test results, click here.
But nobody is ever going to splash R3 336 000 on this car because of its straight-line speed. There is a whole host of others things that combine to make the R8 the object of desire it has become since its first appearance in 2006.
Billed by Ingolstadt as the closest Audi to motorsport, the R8 lives up to this reputation through its futuristic and racing-style looks complemented by the optional R77 300 engine cover in glossy carbon on our test unit.
The updated R8 exterior is slightly sharper than before and it is both attractive and imposing in equal amounts. There is also a slight resemblance to its cousin the Lamborghini Huracan it shares a platform with, in the front aero blades.
The R8 certainly sounds as good as a race car should by virtue of the high-revving V10 powerplant and its sports exhaust. And probably the most important thing carried over from the racing track is the R8’s fantastic handling and sticking to the tar like glue around corners at high speeds. Only once you have experienced this, you truly get a grasp of the superb balance that comes with its low centre of gravity.
The R8 features standard performance sports suspension, while our tester also had fitted the optional dynamic steering at R27 000. The latter allows very direct steering during maneuvering, while staying smooth on the highway.
When opting for Performance driving mode over Auto and Comfort, the driving characteristic is adjusted to make the R8 as close to a race car it can be. Steering becomes direct, the suspension firms up and the throttle response is immediate and sporty, not to mention the exhaust notes. You can get so used to this that once make in Comfort mode, the throttle response almost feels too sleepy.
Enhanced Electronic Stabilisation Control enables the updated R8’s performance ceramic brakes to bring it to a standstill 1.5 metres earlier from 100 km/h and five metres from 200 km/h.
But the best part about all of this in our opinion is that the designers who created this car over at Audi Sport GmbH has managed to combine a true race car-feel to the cabin with serious plush refinement. For those privileged enough to be able to afford one, it can easily serve as your daily ride to the office before being utilised as your toy over weekends.
The cabin features standard Nappa leather and diamond stitching, while the absence of a centre infotainment screen a striking feature. Everything in the car can be controlled from the buttons on the steering wheels and can be viewed on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. All the latest technology and Audi features complete the package.
As the head of the Audi family tree, the R8 is the one model that truly embodies Ingolstadt’s four rings. It is a combination of four equal parts of performance, beauty, comfort and fun. Not bad for something that doesn’t even require aviation fuel.