Since the local launch of the original Audi R8 in 2007, we have been smitten with the Ingolstadt mid-engined sports car, which at the time featured a fettled 4.2-litre V8 engine from the then RS 4 and a metal-gated 6-speed manual gearbox. It not only looked the part but also drove equally well. It was a masterstroke and has gone on to become an icon in its own right.
14 Years, two generations and a facelift later – which we have on review this month in Coupe form – and we can safely say that its design elements have been enhanced rather than outright changed. For starters, the grille has been given the once-over, while the lower valance now spots a more chiselled design in the interest of better aerodynamics and cooling.
New wheel designs have also been adopted with the Performance models; now boasting carbon-ceramic brakes as standard fare, with brake callipers painted in blue. At the rear, new oval exhausts replace the trapezoidal design – giving the rear a more distinct look that definitely cracks a positive nod with us.
Cabin appointments haven’t been messed with and remain driver-centric in their execution with the instrument binnacle housing all the vital driver information, for maximising the torque curve... naturally. So too is the ergonomic tiller that is replete with engine start- and drive-mode buttons. The rest of the cabin architecture continues on the simplistic yet tactile look and feel, bursting at the seams with soft leather cladding and carbon fibre trimmings. It’s truly a great place to be!
Of course, you don't just buy the R8 solely for its styling because under that slinky design resides a feral engine. It has 10 pots set in a V-angle and displacing 5.2-litres in swept volume, atmospherically aspirated and the ability to rev up to 8 500 r/min with ease. Cranking up that engine each morning is something to behold. It literally cuts through any drab mood that you might be experiencing and catapults you to a place where you consider that, in fact, everything is ok with the world.
Unwinding the R8’s V10 power plant should rate as one of man’s favourite pastimes after, well, I could think of a few things, but I digress. In an era where forced-induction engines are the rule rather than the exception, a large capacity, naturally aspirated engine that revs to the stratosphere is most welcome. From the instantaneous throttle response to the cacophony and theatrics on offer – we ought to celebrate these sort of engines as they are, nowadays, very few and far between.
And while the R8 V10 offers searing performance and leech-like grip antics, on the one hand, it also does the mundane stuff pretty well. Thanks to its magnetic ride dampers, you could easily be lulled into thinking that you were piloting a cushy A6 sedan instead of a low slung, mid-engine supercar, such is the R8’s comfortable repertoire. Also, I particularly like the all-around visibility from the driver's seat that makes placing the car on the road or, indeed, parking it in confined spaces such a great boon.
At R3 336 000 the Audi R8 V10 Performance Coupe quattro gives you access to the high-flyer, V10 club of which, admittedly, very few still exist. Being the last of an almost extinct breed, the fact that cars like the R8 in its current engine dispensation still exists, needs to be celebrated to no end. These have also proven to have relatively good residual values, and will more than likely escalate in price once production ceases.
With spectacular looks and design, a fiery engine and usability that defies the genre – the Audi R8 continues to be an exceptional, everyday supercar with accessible performance for even the most novice of enthusiasts. For my personal sins, however, the Porsche 911 GT3 is still the more enticing proposition for a similar capital outlay.