When Audi launched the first generation R8 in early 2007, the supercar world was astounded. Powered by a 420hp V8, the mid-engine R8 was a shot across the bows of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, but like the equally exotic Honda NSX from the decade before, it was an outsider.
Not anymore. Thanks to Audi’s clever stage managing of its exclusive hand-built, aluminium construction image, underpinned by a reasonable price tag and adequate supply, the R8 soon caught on in a big way with enthusiasts.
The successful R8 LMS customer racing programme that resulted in wins against established rivals did the cars street cred no harm either, and by the time the final curtain went down on the first generation R8, Audi had a well-established icon on their hands.
Every new car goes through the design proposal stage, and Audi experimented with even more radical styling before coming to the conclusion that part of the original R8’s success story was due to its unique looks. Thus, the Board wisely decided that an evolution of the iconic shape, with more up-to-the-minute detailing was the best way to proceed.
While the crisper new front looks good, its more angular grille and lights in keeping with current Audi fashion, the R8’s best view is from the rear three quarters. Follow the car down the road and it looks low, wide and mean in the Ferrari Testarossa idiom.
In fact, in the course of refining the lines of the second generation R8’s, the design team co-incidentally achieved a similar relationship of C-pillar to rear deck as on the Ferrari F355. No bad thing really as the F355 has proven to be one of Pininfarina’s most enduring design high points.
From the look of the sleek and modern cabin architecture to the pleasing feel of control operations, the sense of quality in the new R8’s cabin is absolute. With the optional full leather package, every surface is covered with high quality hides.
There is no plastic on show here, and in visual and tactile terms, the new R8 scores heavily in the perceived quality stakes over its more expensive and flamboyant cousin from Sant’Agata Bolognese.