If sports cars like the Audi R8 were judged solely on the way they looked and went, then we could just say the car is a flawless gem. So, hand over $793,380 to Audi and tell them you want one toot sweet. In Dynamite Red (a colour exclusive to the R8), naturally.
Nestled a little behind your head, under a glass window in a bay with a purposeful-looking X-shaped reinforcement brace is a 5.2-litre V10. A close relative of the one used in a Lamborghini Huracan, the engine makes peak power of 540bhp and screams to 8,500rpm, making a glorious noise along the way.
In addition to that, the R8 isn’t something you’d want to throw out of bed. This is in spite of the second-generation car having lines barely distinguishable from its predecessor. Stare at it really hard, and you’ll notice the reworked headlight/taillight cluster, plus the sharpened creases on its flanks and bonnet.
Pardon us if we’re getting all car nerd on you, but we can only assume those razor-sharp lines are fiendishly tough to mass produce.
What of practicality, then? It’s all well and good to treat your sports car as an occasional use item, but an equally strong argument is that you buy one to be seen in. And you can’t possibly be seen in one if said car is sitting idle in your garage.
We’ve already established the R8 looks fabulous, but it’s destined for more than merely sitting in a garage and driven gingerly on weekends. Which is a good thing, since the thing depreciates at a rate of roughly $120 a day, or something like $0.08 a minute.
We did the math for you. You’re welcome, by the way.
Anyway, the R8, for its wild supercar looks is remarkably suited for daily use. All-round visibility is excellent, with its wraparound windscreen, relatively low shoulder line and generous (for a mid-engined sports car) rear window.
And, you might be surprised to learn, the R8 is comfortable and quiet enough at cruising speeds that you won’t have to shout across the centre tunnel at someone sitting barely half a metre away from you.
Oh, and here’s the really surprising bit: the R8 has a nod to eco-friendliness with the ability to shut down five of its engine’s ten cylinders on light to moderate throttle loads in gears four through seven. Aside from the smallest of thrums, you’ll hardly know you’re running on an ersatz V5 when just cruising along.
Clever stuff, this. Audi says this, along with its start-stop system, and ability to disengage the clutch and freewheel at speeds of below 55km/h when your foot is off the throttle contributes to the second-generation R8’s 13 percent improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
We think it’s a little like prescribing thoughts and prayers for serious physical and/or psychological trauma, but hey, don’t be a cynic, alright?
The R8 is undeniably a tremendous achievement. a shining beacon of how modern automotive engineering can give a rip-snorting 500-odd horsepower beast the ease of use of an average executive saloon.
But as the discerning petrolhead will tell you, a sports car having show, go and daily drivability, while of great import, is only part of the equation.
If we could point to its biggest flaw, it would be there’s a certain lack of danger and intimidation in the R8. It’s too friendly and forgiving by half — its steering is fingertip-light and should you drive it gently, the R8 will respond in kind.
"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both”, goes noted philosopher and big time cynic Niccolo Machiavelli, and it rings true for sports cars as well.
After all, anybody who isn’t a sociopath should have a sense of trepidation, and by extension, respect, when wielding that much power under their right feet.
Because, as noted web-slinger and friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man once said, “with great power comes even great responsibility”.
ENGINE: 5,204cc, 40-valves, V10
POWER: 540bhp at 7,800rpm
TORQUE: 540Nm at 6,500rpm
0-100KM/H: 3.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 320km/hr
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 11.4L/100km
CO2 EMISSIONS: 272g/km
PRICE: S$793,380 (including COE, excluding options)