There’s a saying that German cars are boring. But put the Audi R8 Coupe’s pedal to the metal and it’s definitely not boredom that you’ll find bouncing between the ole synapses.
Pocket-lint took the R8 - complete with R-Tronic 6-speed auto ‘box and 4.2-litre V8 engine - for a day out around Sonoma Raceway and oh boy, was it fun!
The R8 has an almost sinister look. Those scowling headlights, complete with dotted spots of light to their outer edges, will turn heads. Not that there were any nearby when we were speeding around the circuit.
Nestled into the comfy seat of this left-hand-drive beast, a quick twist of the key in the ignition and the V8 engine subtly fires into action. From inside the car it sounds more like a purr than a roar - arguably that German "boring" phrase again - but the R8 is equal parts practical and fun.
We say "practical", but we mean that in the sense that if you go shopping and want to buy nothing more than a small bag of peas then you’ll be just fine. Yes, there might not be any room for the shopping, but we couldn’t care less. This is a supercar, after all.
Instead the mid-mounted 4.2-litre V8 engine - which provides good balance because of its positioning but ultimately occupies the rear section of the car - is visible through the rear screen. It’s a right hunk of engineering wonderment that not only eats up any hopes of boot space, but also looks a visual treat.
Power-wise it sure does crank out some heat. Not only could you blister an egg on this baby in seconds, its 430bhp means 0-60mph is met in a mere 4.3 seconds. Now that’s quick. Real quick. But the sound is dampened enough from inside the car that it’s possible to still have a conversation with the passenger without the need to yell, even when hammering at speed.
The road-ready R8 that we raced around the track came kitted out with Audi’s R-Tronic 6-speed gearbox. It’s paddle controlled from the steering wheel and while the electronic-led shifts are neat enough, there’s that added "distance" from the drive. Just like with all automatics, a sharp dip of the pedal will downshift for an equally sharp kick up the rear.
A quick press of the "Sport" mode - positioned to the base of the stick shift - lets the computer guide the car’s handling, which was particularly handy for all those bends and turns on the track. With body weight pressing firmly into the seat thanks to the power, the R8 feels adhered to the road; as gripped as we were to fire it around the track a few more times.
And what price for this pristine piece of engineering? Next year’s (2013) S-Tronic (dual clutch) version, which comes with the same engine, starts at £92,800. Hardly a snip, and something that’s still hotly contested by the Porsche 911, but this Audi does feel like all its £100,000 of motor when slinging it around the track.
Rather than test drive an R8 on plodding, speed-limited roads, go and throw it around a track. It’s bags more fun and lays to rest those "boring" rumours. This R8 Coupe epitomises condensed fun on four wheels, even if the paddle shift R-Tronic transmission isn’t all that.