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Audi R8 V8 4.2 FSI Quattro

Fifth Gear's Review:


Supercars are about visual drama, and if the reactions of passers-by to the R8 are any guide this Audi has it in spades. It's so low it seems almost to be snorting the road through its nose, and spitting debris from its tail.


This car feels like no other Audi you've driven – deft, delicate, poised, responsive and deeply satisfying. Yet it maintains the Audi virtues of secure, reliable grip – thank the quattro four-wheel drive for that – and an aura of inner strength that only encourages you to push it towards as considerable ESP anti-skid protected limits. The only downside – and it's mild – is steering that sometimes feels inconsistent in its responses, and could do with more feel.


It has the pace to cover massive distances in a day, this R8, but just as impressive is that it combines this with the comfort to make such a challenge an absolute pleasure. The electric seats are very adjustable, you can get the wheel where you want it to be and the engine, though more than audible, is not so insistent as to turn wearing by your hundredth mile. Some, indeed, will be craving sports exhausts. But the most impressive comfort feature of this Audi is its ride.


If you're picky, you could say that this Audi's interior is a shade too restrained for a car like this, but many will like that soberness – it's precisely the look we expect of Audi today. And the cabin is very well crafted, as is the rest of this car, whose accurate assembly, fine materials and aura of taut solidity leave you in no doubt that it is a quality object.


A 0-62mph time under five seconds, a 187mph top speed and 420bhp? And that's just the V8. But it doesn't feel violently quick on the road. All-wheel drive probably flatters the 0-62mph time, and you have to rev it more than you'd expect – many diesels deliver more instantly. But, this engine sounds magnificent and pulls thrillingly hard near the redline. Both transmissions are good, even if the manual's long throw clutch can be slow, and the R tronic's step-off from rest can be uncertain.


Like most mid-engined supercars, the R8 is a car for the lightly packed long-weekend. There's a modest boot up front, and a sizeable shelf behind the seats that Audi alleges is big enough to swallow two golf bags, and a reasonable amount of space for dumping smaller objects. And there are cup-holders.


The standard stereo is good enough, but this is an extravagant car, so the optional Bang and Olufsen stereo will have its appeal.


It's pretty obvious that this will not be a cheap car to run. It will sit in one of the highest insurance categories, it will not be especially cheap to service and you'll be doing well to achieve 12mpg. But it is no worse than others of its type, and it can be expected to hold its value reasonably well.


Considering its sophistication and semi-handbuilt nature, the R8 isn't bad value. You get a highly advanced lightweight bodyshell, four-wheel drive and a limited slip differential as standard, along with a seven-speaker 140watt stereo and an advanced ESP system. But there's plenty to spend extra money on, from paint finishes and more extensive leathering of the interior to satellite navigation, carbon ceramic brakes, magnetic dampers and a Bang and Olufsen hi-fi. And more besides.


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