THERE IS nothing subtle about the Audi R8 Coupe.
From its look to the way it sounds and performs, it’s a head turner that will always elicit a response from driver, passenger and passers by.
While it’s not the spanking new model in the fleet, it has presence in its look, the way it sounds and hasn’t been overwhelmed by new technology that has invaded car interiors with touchscreens and gadgetry.
Driving it again brings some of the R8’s features into clearer perspective.
The slightly dated dashboard and screens offer a practical compromise between form and function. Many of the newer cars have touchscreens for almost everything, which makes it hard to act precisely when you’re on the move. Nothing like reaching for a familiar knob to get to what you need.
Sure, data is the new gold, and you may have a lot of it coming at you, but what can you do with it when you should be keeping your eyes on the road?
The R8 has three key switches in the centre, clearly labelled for the air-conditioning, which is more for the benefit of the passenger. And the rest of the commands are contained in the dashboard display and the steering wheel buttons.
With the R8 the focus is on the road since it’s a bit of a rocket. Between your thumbs you can power the car, choose the kind of drive you’re after, play with the exhaust tone or rocket off….
With the R8 the emphasis is on best utilisation of materials and that plays out in how the aluminium is layered and moulded into a performance machine and makes you reconsider — albeit for a moment — this whole electric movement with its silent disposition.
The two-seater is built to be snug, and is about folding yourself into a tight spot. Getting in and out requires a supple body. And if you’re tall, you’ll take some time to find the right sitting position, though it will still not seem quite right. Between the D steering running across your lap And your knees knocking the steering column you’ll realise the comfort you’re sacrificing for style.
But all that’s forgotten once you punch the power button and here the roar rip through the air.
Loaded with a V10, hand built in Hungary, which could probably be the last of its kind, the R8 is a road rocket that propels you with a sense of exhilaration. It’s a combination of growl and perceived speed, for even within modest legal limits you can still get a buzz from the speed of acceleration.
0-100kmh in 3.5 seconds and it just carries on. It does 0-200kmh faster than most cars still trying to get to 100kmh.
Most of this racy number is about the engine. You can keep an eye on the engineering work of art in your rear view mirror; a constant visual reminder accompanied by suitable engine noises. Sweet music to your ears, and one to make the birds take flight in fright.
Drop gears and whip around tight bends and it’s achieved effortlessly. No nervousness, just a great grip as it tackles the curves with verve, as you sink further into the quilted leather seats.
For all the power at its disposal it can be a gentle runner. It’s easy to navigate city traffic, just be mindful of humps and kerbs, though there are lots of warning sounds and a 360° view to keep you at a safe distance from obstacles.
Not the most practical of cars, given it’s only got a small space in front and some shoulder room behind the seats for storage, the R8 is less about function than it is about form, where it’s absolutely on song.
AUDI R8 COUPE RATING
Max Power: 397kW@7,800rpm
Max Torque: 540Nm@ 6,500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed S tronic
0-100kmh: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 320kmh
Retail price: *$793,380
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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