If you need the abilities of Superman along with the disguise of Clark Kent, Audi has unleashed a completely new R8 for 2017. It took the world by surprise in 2008 because nobody expected Audi to build a rear engined car. Initially offered with a 4.2L V8, a 5.2L V10 joined the lineup in 2010. Sharing many components with the Lamborghini Gallardo, the first generation was offered as a coupe or convertible (spyder) with manual or single clutch automatic transmissions. The new model was designed alongside the Huracan, but the differences are much more pronounced than its predecessor.
The R8 is produced by the legendary quattro division in a separate factory from their conventional models. In keeping with Audi’s emphasis on safety, the body makes use of an incredibly stiff aluminum space frame. The engine is rear-mid mounted, placed directly behind the cockpit. If you think drifting is fun, R8 is not the car for you. quattro AWD uses three electronic differentials to ration the power at each wheel, which preserves traction in almost every situation.
In our showroom sits a 2012 R8 Spyder that has been part of the collection since new. It looks rather unassuming next to an Aston Martin One-77 and Porsche 918 Spyder, but that’s the point. R8 is as civilized as a dinner party until you provoke the accelerator. Back in 2013, I was given the difficult task of delivering the car to Prestige Imports in Miami for a promotional event. Our office is only 267 miles away but I will not disclose how long it took to get there. Needless to say, I arrived ahead of schedule. The automatic will kick down several gears at once, allowing you to overtake other cars like they are standing still. One of the few supercars with American sized cup holders, the interior is well designed for a long distance trip.
A comfortable suspension soaks up any broken pavement and a well-insulated top will make you forget its a convertible. Power is normally sent to the rear wheels which makes steering effort quick and light. The automatic shifts as smooth as a Buick in city driving, but it becomes Thor’s hammer at wide open throttle. R8 can transform from mild mannered to maniacal in under a second, which is why it has brake rotors larger than a trash can. Panic stops rarely invoke ABS and the pedal offers great feedback. It offers more ground clearance and greater visibility than any other supercar, and the front storage compartment is large enough for a weekend trip. The most sensible car at this power level is also reliable. It has only undergone major service last year, to address a fuel pump that was covered by recall.
The R8 has evolved over the years, with incremental changes to the interior and infotainment systems. Production numbers are lower than other cars in this category, which supports their strong resale value. Many other supercars have come and gone from our collection over the years, but the R8 isn’t going anywhere. Drive one for yourself and see why it’s too good to give up.