The middle years were a golden age for Audi. In 2006, we had the B7 RS4, followed a year later, by this, the R8. The model has been an immediate success thanks to its low weight, the rear center 4.2-litre V8 and rear-biased to the quattro drivetrain. And, of course, the feeling that, because it was bas ed on the Gallardo, it was a sort of Mondeo man’s Lamborghini: easy-to-use, reliable and nice to drive. Today, with R8s starting within £5000 of the most expensive of the Mondeo Vignale, the impression is almost a reality.
But banish thoughts of sales representatives and engines Ecoboost, because what we have in the two-seat R8 is bags Technik and extremely fast Vorsprung. How about 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 187mph? This is the manual version, the selection of the first gen line-up. The R tronic automatic takes more getting used to.
The R8 of the body, chassis and double wishbone suspension are made of aluminum for lightness, even if the car is still tipped the scales at 1565kg. The quattro system sends 70% of the car 415bhp output to the rear wheels, the balance going to the fronts.
Standard equipment includes 19in alloys, xenon headlamps and leather seats. Beware of the option of the magnetic suspension system. There are enough reports of failing expensive in later life, to make the standard set-up, the smarter choice.
At the end of 2008 Audi dipped his hands in the Lamborghini parts bin again and brought out the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V10, detuned to 517bhp. Thus equipped, the R8’s 0-62mph sprint dropped 3.9 sec (for the manual version) and top speed climbs to 196mph. Magnetic ride suspension is standard, as are LED headlights. The R8 has been having a ball, and to prove it, Audi has lifted the roof to create the V10 Spyder the following year. Then, in 2010, came to the rare, stripped down, 552bhp V10 GT coupé with the R tronic automatic gearbox and a 0-62mph time of 3.6 sec.
Then, when all the world thought that Audi had forgotten about the V8, came a revised version with 424bhp, 0-62mph time of 4.5 sec and a new energy recovery system to help secure EU5 emissions of sign. A version Spyder appeared at the same time, followed by the Spyder GT.
It was all change in 2012 with the arrival of the new R8. Is passed the optional R tronic, replaced by the infinitely superior to the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic. New LED lights across the range, an aesthetic exhaust, new grille, sat-nav and Bluetooth taking care of the nice bits. The V8 and V10 engines remained the same, but the lighter, more compact S tronic box helped to reduce the emissions of CO2 (VED is still £515 for all the versions, all the same).
At the same time, the new R8 V10 Plus, offering 535bhp and a 0-62mph time of 3.5 sec in S tronic form, has become the flagship product of the range, at least until the 562bhp V10 LMX special edition has arrived in 2014. Nice but not as sweet as a property purchased in 2007 V8 manual for £39,000.
An expert’s view…
SAM HOWELL, PRESTIGE CARS KENT
R8s are fast, easy to drive, reliable and reasonably cheap to run. We sold one recently with a £1000 annual maintenance and warranty package. It is a good value for a supercar. We will buy any age, mileage, specification. The V8 engine is really strong. We have just bought a V10 Spyder. The engine sounds glorious, but I think that this is its only advantage compared to the V8. It is certainly not the fastest in the real world. A early V8 manual is the best buy and a future classic.
Generally bullet-proof, but a little V8 suffered from bottom end failure. Listen to the noises. The oil lines to the cooler, to the rear left, can rust through. Beware of the cars with extended two-year/19k-mile of the maintenance history; annual services better. Faulty ignition coils can cause misfires.
External Face of the radiator can cause leaks at the joints after about six years.
Almost 20,000 miles from a clutch, with a budget of £3500. R tronic transmission manual transmission hated for slow changes; some reliability issues, too.
Nuts and bolts in steel react with aluminum frame and triangles, and re-enter them. The bottom of the rear triangulation may fail, requiring a whole new unit, with the hub, at £3k for the parts only. Magnetic ride dampers fail on older cars, the cost is approximately £800 per corner. Replace in pairs or with high-quality coilovers. R8s are sensitive to worn tires, shocks and suspension bushes. To listen shock and accelerate/decelerate hard to check by pulling to the left or to the right.
The disks are around £300 each, so, change of towels 50% worn, to extend the disc life.
Check for oxidation and galvanic corrosion where steel and aluminum to react. Long doors vulnerable to knocks; panels expensive to replace.
Not the most exciting of the cabin for a £100k car. Some first looks very tired.
Also useful to know…
Regardless of age, but as long as it is under 100,000 miles, you can purchase a 12-month warranty Audi. 2007 A8 with 54k miles is £2326 (all covered parts, 10k miles, £250 excess).
How much to spend…
Early V8 manual and R tronic auto, 50k miles, some with mag-ride shocks.
Of 46 000 and 49,000
Low mileage, early V8, some of 2009, the cars and even at the beginning of the v10s.
Middle-mile, high-spec-V8 models from 2009-2010.
£56 000-60 000£
Most of 2010-2011 powered by a v10 and V8, the least expensive Audi approved used R8s, including a 30k mile 2011 V8 Spyder for £59k.
Low mile 2010-2012 V8/v10s. Some GTs and more 12 plate Audi approved used cars. Some of 2013’s electronics.
Audi approved used 14 plate selection begins for good.