NOW this is a little bit confusing.
Audi is synonymous with quattro, which is short for “advanced four-wheel drive magic” perfected over 40 years.
You buy one because: A) You can go round significant corners at considerable speeds, and B) It is your insurance policy in winter.
So why has Audi turned its flagship R8 supercar into a rear-wheel-drive production car?
I’ve absolutely no idea.
You’d think it would start with, say, an A4 to take on the BMW 3 Series. But no.
The car that needs quattro more than anything has had it stripped out to turn it into a lighter, tail-happy 540hp rocketship.
But do you know what? I liked it a lot.
It’s the simplest, cheapest R8 and made my neck hairs all tingly with anticipation.
You’re not the navigator in this car, you’re the pilot.
Of course, Audi has done all it can to make sure it is impeccably well behaved on public roads.
The traction control cuts in constantly to stop you calling the AA for a dustpan and brush. Unless you are a total idiot.
But switch off the nanny blankets at a track day and you’ve got over-steer citaaay.
You don’t get fancy adaptive dampers or carbon-ceramic brakes on this entry-level R8 — but you do get the same naturally aspirated V10 as the R8 quattro. And the Lamborghini Huracan for that matter.
That V10 fills me with pure joy.
It shrieks behind your lugholes like an unpleasant medical procedure. It reels in the horizon at an incredible rate.
It’s not as quick as an R8 quattro off the start line, it must be said, but 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 201mph is enough for most people.
You also get the same drop-dead looks as the full-fat R8.
Drive it anywhere and it is filmed live on Instagram. Park it anywhere and it is filmed live on Instagram.
The only way to tell the difference is the little RWD badge on the dash.
I won’t waste your time writing about the cockpit because it’s pure class.
This is Audi’s poster hero. Tony Stark’s personal ride. Digital instrument cluster, Alcantara seats, sublime fit and finish. It wants for nothing.
But now we come to the crucial question.
Would I buy one?
I’m not sure.
The R8 isn’t long for this world. How can it be?
Audi won’t make a new generation with a naked V10.
The EU emissions police have seen to that.
So on that basis, yes, I would buy one.
But if Audi really wanted to make a driver’s car — something collectable and exciting with more feedback — it should have brought back the gated manual and hydraulic steering.
So on that basis, no, I wouldn’t.
I’d have a quattro. For reasons A and B above.
Key facts: AUDI R8 RWD
Engine: 5.2-litre V10
0-62mph: 3.7 secs
Top speed: 201mph
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