by Liz Turner
I had an excellent Christmas present from Audi – a drive in an R8 V10. The R8 is the curvaceous supercar driven by the delicious Robert Downey Jnr as Tony Stark in the Ironman films, and I’ve been dieing to have a go for a long time.
Where most cars have a measly four cylinders, the R8 starts with eight. This one has 10, count ‘em: 10 arranged in a V, and you can peek at it through the rear window. For me, a 3-litre car feels pretty powerful – this is a 5.2-litre, punching out 550 horsepower.
The first time I put my foot down hard probably shouldn’t have been at a T-junction. I didn’t want to be stuck behind that truck heading my way, so I put my foot down and it was as if Scotty had beamed us to the other side of the road
Barrelling along empty lanes, the hedges blurred, and my heart was pumping as if I was on an Ironman theme park ride. The gnarly engine sound, overlaid with a whistle, was part of the fun. I don’t know if I’d even get round to using the £950 Bang & Olufsen sound system on roads like these.
Of course, I could tell from the dials that what I was asking the R8 to do was equivalent to Usain Bolt taking a stroll around the park, but it was good enough for me.
The downside to its superb four-wheel-drive cornering ability is a hard ride, which pins the car down on the road, so I can feel the flab on my tummy quivering as we took any big bumps.
I was impressed, though, to find when you ask the thoroughbred R8 to do some everyday chores such as driving along a motorway, or pottering around at low speeds , it doesn’t get grumpy or difficult to drive. It’s just as happy, and on the motorway it’s reasonably quiet. (That’s where the sound system would come in.)
For most of the time, I left the car to select the gears via its S tronic automatic seven-speed gearbox. You can feel more connected by changing gears yourself either by nudging the stubby gearlever up and down or using paddles on the wheel, and the change is almost instant. It’s fun to play for a while, but it soon becomes clear the car knows best.
At lower speeds you get a chance to look around and enjoy the quality of the cosy cockpit. The low-slung seats are trimmed with soft black Nappa leather, and I love the architectural quality of the long door struts.
I adore the humped shape of the R8, too. It reminds me of classic Porsche sports cars, but it’s bang up to date.
Maybe next year Santa Baby, I’ve been an awful good girl…
Audi R8 Coupe V10 plus 5.2 FSI Quattro (550 PS) S tronic
Price £127,000, as tested £130,955
Engine 5.2 V10
Economy 21.9 mpg (combined)
0-62mph 3.5 seconds
Max speed 197mph