"The best handling road car today." Jacky Ickx 2006
There have always been hard and fast rules regarding supercars, the first of which is that they have to be just that; hard and fast. On top of that, pick from any of the following less than beguiling characteristics: uncomfortable, unforgiving, hard to see out of, hard to get into, hard to get out of, hard to drive, temperamental, hot and expensive to run. They are also pretty likely to have come from within a torque wrench throw of an industrial conurbation beginning with M. Anyone who said Manchester, go and stand in the corner.
That was however until uber-cool Audi’s Bauhaus-boys decided to enter the market; the rule book was torn up (or more likely diligently read through a pair of ZeroRH spectacles, folded neatly and put in a draw marked “Ignor”). Out went all the traditional failings that had previously had blind eyes turned to them on the basis of nothing more than ‘it’s a Supercar, what do you expect?’ and in came real-world usability with a capital R-WU. Having acquired Lamborghini in 1998, Audi set them-selves the challenge of producing something that could perform with the best from Sant’ Agata while having practicality close to that of say an A4 and in 2003 the Audi Le Mans Quattro concept car was revealed to a frankly stunned Frankfurt Motor Show. That is not to say the final specification of the R8 which broke cover at the Paris Auto Show three years later was saloon car mundane. An all-aluminium 32 valve dry sump 4.2 litre 414 bhp V8 engine hooked up to a 30/70 rear biased four wheel drive transmission, installed in a svelte aluminium and carbon fibre body shell doesn’t sound like your average supermarket runabout to us.
All this usability means that guess what, R8s get used. While many more ‘precious’ (with both positive and negative connotations) machines will barely turn a wheel never mind get close to three figure thousands of miles, Audi’s take on the Supercar is far more, for want of a better word, capable and this particular example proves that point admirably; averaging 10,000 miles per year, there are Taxis out there that have seen less regular use. Of course, all this needs to be backed up with the appropriate care and attention and while an R8 doesn’t petulantly demand constant visits to the Service Bay, it went back to Audi five times in the first four years and 66,000 miles of its life to ensure it was permanently in the finest of fettles. Since then it has been looked after by well-regarded specialists Volkscraft, its most recent visit being just a few weeks ago. The vendor has owned the Audi for some six years and it has had just four owners in total.
This meticulous attention plus the Audi’s legendary build quality mean the R8 wears its ten years and some 99,000 miles extremely well. While the high mileage may not be for everyone, this is more than reflected in the car’s reserve and if you’ve always hankered after an R8 but considered your pockets to be woefully shallow, you may like to think again. With early cars already gaining classic status this example may prove to be one of the cheapest to come to market - ever. Further good news arrives in the reassurance that as this is a German machine it drives very nicely with no worrying clonks or bangs and everything works just as it should.
The V8 snuffles along in traffic with the ultra-stiff chassis teamed with compliant ‘Magnetic Ride’ suspension making for serene progress while on demand the whole package seems to tense, becoming sharper and more responsive. Beyond capable for the vast majority of road conditions, we did find speed bumps required a modicum of respect but then that is sort of to be expected, even for such an everyday-capable machine.
The V8 power unit seems commendably leak free and consequently the engine bay is virtually spotless with of course everything efficiently and logically organised and laid out while the six-speed gearbox operates with no issues.
The aluminium and carbon fibre body is of course immune from rust issues and the only blemish we could detect was a small dent on the rear near-side quarter panel which looks as though it could be effectively rectified without the requirement for any paintwork. All the glazing and plastic light lenses are crack and scratch-free.
Just an opinion but in our view solid gloss black is one of the better colours on an R8, subtly contrasting with the carbon fibre side panels, it emphasises the cars’ low stance and sleek lines while still allowing lovely styling details such as the cross-over panel gap around the engine cover to shine through. Given the healthy mileage the Audi has covered, there are just a few chips, scuffs and paint blemishes as can be seen in the photo gallery, however, the paint appears to be the factory original with all the appropriate stickers in place in the door shuts.
The interior is finished in grey leather with matching carpets protected by black over-mats, and is in very good condition for its age and miles. Needless to say there are no rips or tears with the passenger seat leather still taut and displaying just the faintest of creasing while the driver’s is slightly baggy but perhaps only needs only a good clean and feed, particularly to the outer bolsters. There is some slight scuffing to the R8 sill plates, so at least they have been fulfilling their function. The optional extra Audi Navigation Plus operates without issue as do all the electrical systems.
The attractive 19” wheels are in respectable condition with just a few light scuffs and a little peeling of the lacquer while the tyres have a good amount of tread remaining.
Having made the point about the merits of an R8 as a useable and practical Supercar, there is one last trick up this particular examples’ sleeve that is worth emphasising; this level of performance, handling and looks can, other bidders allowing, be acquired for comfortably under £30K – yes we thought that too!
Registration number: RJ08UFB. The private number plate shown is not included in the sale
Chassis Number: WUAZZZ4238N006129
Engine Number: BYH007590