Supercars are the secret success story of the showrooms.
The bread-and-butter brigade of family cars, the crop of cross-overs and file of executive expresses all contribute to the turnaround of many manufacturers, but a fortunate few can also smile with satisfaction at the performance of their supercars.
Probably the best case in point is the Audi R8. Compared to many rivals, the R8 seemed to come from nowhere to no-way can there be a better modern supercar.
I have been fortunate to drive a few R8 versions over the years and the leave me more impressed each time. They just seem to get better, to dare I say it, mature, to ripen.
Subtle changes are made with each model year and this means the R8 is ready for anything a rival can put up against it.
The latest R8 Coupe 5.2 tested actually managed to achieve what I considered impossible, to better the official combined fuel figure. And not just by a bit but a big amount as you can see from our test panel. It’s almost unbelievable, just like driving the Audi R8.
Assembled in a way which would not be out of place in an F1, International Sports Racing or WRC team, the R8 is hand-built using the best components for each purpose and it is truly a masterpiece.
The 550ps V10 engine in the test car is the most powerful in the range yet its refinement makes it easy to drive, particularly when matched to the seven-speed automatic with its normal or sporting modes.
Power pours out depending on your inclination of mind and throttle pedal, the box moving the ratios into play in a seamless but effective manner and down-changes bring about a delightful pap-papping sound from the exhaust.
Brakes are deceptively smooth and progressive for the power they produce to match the car’s performance and you can twiddle the steering with confidence and ease in town when parking or sweeping through curves on open roads. The feedback is fine, the weight seemingly never changes although it does.
Secondary controls are practical and functional and work well with big clear instruments and comprehensive computer as well as complex info-tainment centre.
A strict two-seater, the oddments room is good for a pair while the front boot will take a clean g-string and a gold credit card for necessities, but little else. Do you need anything else if you drive an Audi R8?
You just feel so secure in the seats as the R8 wraps around the road ahead, you showing it where to go and it enthusiastically obeying like an excited puppy.
Off the leash its acceleration is immensely strong, zipping through the standard 60mph point in under 4 seconds and onto 100mph seemingly moments later. On a cross European run you could hold very high speed for hours on end if you have the ability and inclination.
It is however on the winding main roads where the Audi R8 excels with its grip and responsiveness, even if the ride is still slightly firm underneath. I loved its many characteristics.
This means it is probably the most civilized of supercars you can buy right now, but let’s keep that a secret between us or they will all want one.
|Audi R8V10 Coupe||Price: £121,580 as tested|
|Mechanical: 5.2V10 550ps, 7sp Auto AWD||Insurance group: 50E T1|
|Max speed: 197mph||0-62mph: 3.5sec|
|Combined mpg: 22mpg (32mpg on test)||CO2 emissions: 299gkm|
|BIK rating: Tax band M||Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000miles|