Born on the track, built for the road!
I love what I do. I really and truly do and realise that it is not hard to see why. I get to travel to amazing places and drive brand new cars for a living. I get it! But somedays it can feel as if I am running around on a hamster wheel and I forget why I love what I do. Then Audi invites you to experience their new R8 and things quickly fall back in to place. This was a special, special day for me. I have always adored the R8, before I was a motoring journalist I called it as my favourite car and I vowed that one day I would drive it. That bucket list dream has come and gone, a few times. I have been fortunate enough to experience R8 a few times over. So of course I was over the moon to be able to climb in to the new V10 Plus and give it a good go around Kyalami race track…and a good go I gave it!
But before I take you on that epic journey, let me tell you how Audi is about to change the sports car market. Audi has realised they are missing out and so have launched a sub brand called Audi Sport. Why is it so important to Audi? Well they are rather late to the market. Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW’s M Sport brands have been in the game a while and now Audi wants a piece of that pie. There is no doubt that Audi Sport will ensure this happens for the manufacturer.
There is a huge opportunity for Audi to sell more. It’s been 20 years since the first RS was launched and customers are still a little uncertain as to where the likes of the RS, quattro and S-Line models sit within the brand. Audi Sport will help clear up any confusion. Basically, Audi Sport consists of RS and R8 models. They are Audi vehicles that are completely reengineered. Audi Sport will grab the attention of Audi and car enthusiasts with their extrovert exteriors and sound design. And what’s even more exciting is you can expect at least one Audi Sport launch each year going forward.
You will see Audi Sport dealerships which have popped up around the country, the most being in Gauteng as this is the place that holds the greatest sports car market share (60%), it seems us Capetonians are not all that in to them, we only hold a 14% market share. Come on WC, step it up! I want to see more R8s on our roads!
Now back to the car of the moment! This second generation Audi R8 was inspired by the LeMans prototype vehicle in 2 000 and the concept was introduced in 2003. And finally, it was unveiled at the Paris Motorshow show in September of 2006. It was with out doubt a raging success with 27 000 units sold.
Gosh, I remember the V10 arriving (the first model I drove was the V8 manual). It was one of only a hand full of cars that got me really excited.
This second generation retains its iconic character, not much needed to change really. It’s sharpened in the front and you will notice the blades along the profile. 19-inch wheels are standard on both models. Both models being the V10 and the V10 Plus, both powered by a 5,2-litre naturally aspirated engine.
The R8 V10 develops 397 kW of power and 540 N.m of torque. It can sprint to 100 km/h in just 3,5 seconds going on to a top speed of 320 km/h. The V10 Plus tops this with 449 kW of power, 560 N.m of torque and a 0-100 km/h sprint in 3,2 seconds and on to a top speed of 330 km/h.
We put these figures to the test at Kyalami and I have never felt so confident flying around a track. My co-pilot, thankfully, was very patient as it has been some time since I’ve driven this track and not since it was renovated. But it only took a few laps and I was back baby! A hiccup here and there, but nothing this car wouldn’t allow me to handle with ease. All I can say is this car is quick, very quick. And that sound! OH. MY. GOSH! It gives you that butterfly feeling deep in the pit of your tummy.
The look of the R8 has always got my blood pumping, but what I fell in love with back when it launched was the fact that I was able to drive it…easily and comfortably. I felt familiar. Nothing has changed, the interior is a little bit more modern, a little bit more driver-centric and has the likes of Audi’s virtual cockpit we first saw on the TT, but it still retains that comfortable, familiar feeling that makes it a sports car you could drive every day. And oh how I wish I could drive it every day.
So what will such excellence cost you? Well a lot! Obviously! The V10 has a price tag of R2 630 500 and the V10 Plus comes in at R2 970 000. Audi expect the usual suspects to buy the R8. 90% are men, which kills me inside a little…come on ladies! The men are aged between 40 and 50 years old and are of course, motoring enthusiasts. I am often asked what my favourite car is and I always say that it changes too often for me to have only one! But what I can say is that of today, the new Audi R8 is my favourite car and if I could, I would change those market figures to more than a measly 10% women.