Creating enough noise to make cows lift their heads in curiosity, the Audi R8 speeds through the Cheshire countryside. This is a surprise opportunity, after visiting an old friend who is considering swapping his Bentley Continental GT coupe for the Le Mans-inspired R8 coupe.
After less than an hour behind the wheel my opinion is it’s a no-brainer, and a done deal. He should start talking to the local Audi dealer about the trade in price for the Bentley pretty soon.
The R8 is a car which was pushed into production by a determined Dr. Martin Winterkorn. Spurred on by Audi’s continued success in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Winterkorn asked the Audi product teams to come up with a coupe design using Audi’s powerful V10 engine, and a platform and running gear based on the Le Mans race cars. The R8 Quattro concept car (designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig) was shown at the 2003 Geneva Salon. The production version is based on the platform of the Lamborghini Gallardo.
It features a snug cabin, no storage places, little practicality, and the most beautiful exhaust note and mechanical noise from the V10 FSi when the accelerator is floored. Mind you, there are precious few places in Cheshire where you can extend the R8 to its performance potential. However, my friend Graham says he plans to drive it in Europe, where the opportunities are much better.
I envy him the many kilometres of great driving roads on the Continent, and after my recent drive through North Wales, I suggest he can even slip down into the Welsh countryside for a ‘fix’ of R8 madness on some virtually deserted roads – that is apart from Clarkson, Hammond and May.