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Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro review

Rakish looks afford the R8 tremendous kerb appeal

May 2007

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

4 out of 5 stars

Likes:

  • Rakish looks afford the R8 tremendous kerb appeal
  • High quality cockpit and wide range of optional trims
  • Powerful and flexible V8 engine makes an incredible noise
  • Thanks to four-wheel drive, handling and grip levels are impressive

Gripes:

  • Although useful, space in the R8's front 'boot' is only modest
  • R-tronic semi auto gearbox is an acquired taste and requires a smooth touch
  • The R8's outgoing exterior commands attention - make sure you're ready for it
  • Rear three-quarter vision is poor, which can make parking tricky

The supercar club is a pretty exclusive one, and its members are not only the usual suspects but also car makers steeped in motorsport history. Audi has done more than dabble in motorsport in recent years, but until the arrival of its R8, it didn't have a standalone supercar to act as a halo model.

Whatever you say about Audi's R8, don't say that it's just a Lamborghini with a different badge. A lot of the R8 is unmistakably Audi - inside and out. The car's cabin is pure Audi, from the column stalks to the excellent sat-nav and MMI controller. There's also the small matter of the car's engine, which is the already proven 4.2-litre V8 from the well-received RS4 family of cars.

With the engine behind the driver and the inclusion of four-wheel drive, all the basic ingredients are there in the R8 for it to deliver an exhilarating driving experience. The cabin is spacious and well appointed. In fact, the cockpit puts a lot of existing supercars to shame. Traditional Audi values - sound ergonomics, quality components - are most obvious.

But it's the driving experience that's going to be under the most scrutiny. In recent years there's been criticism over uncommunicative steering and an over-hard ride on Audi's mainstream products. The firm has done much to rectify this, and the current crop is much improved. This achievement has been magnified tenfold with the R8.

Blisteringly fast yet composed and unruffled at speed, the R8 aims to flatter the enthusiast yet won't patronise the expert driver. The V8 engine sounds fantastic at any speed, while the level of grip available in the dry promotes a high level of confidence. In keeping with the trend for racecar-like gearboxes, the R8 can be had with a semi-auto 'box called R-tronic. Aimed at serous enthusiasts, it demands more finesse from the driver but the rewards are worth it if you plan to regularly exploit the R8's potential.

Our verdict on the Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro

With an exterior that's like no other in what is already a brash and outgoing sector of the market, Audi's R8 is a classic example of a true 'head turner'. But for all the glamour, this car really can walk the walk in terms of delivering an experience to rival that from a Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini. Thankfully you don't have to go flat out to enjoy the R8, as its flexible nature means it can be used daily. Just watch out for those speed humps.