Words by Andy Hofer
My ownership of an R8 started in the summer of 2011 and eventually ended in 2014. The model I owned was a 2009 Phantom Black Pearl Metallic V8 with a long list of equipment including: 19″ 5 double spoke polished alloys; Audi Exclusive Leather Package (black & silver Fine Nappa leather seats with contrasting stitching); Bang and Olufsen audio system; Carbon Sigma interior inlays; Carbon Sigma Side Blades; LED running lights; CobraTrak tracker and alarm. When I was looking for a new car I didn’t consider any other cars. In my teens I had always wanted a Lamborghini, but when the R8 came out I just knew that was the car for me. I was looking for a car that had beauty, power and luxury, but equally important it also had to have a network of dealers that were easy to get to. Audi fitted the bill exactly and the cost of servicing was reasonable too.
I joined the R8 specific forum R8Talk in 2009, with the intention of researching the car as much as possible, arming myself with the information I needed to go out and find my perfect car. There were a number of specifics I wanted: Carbon Fibre Side Blades; Carbon Fibre Interior; spotless alloy wheels; full Audi service history; high mileage although having been incredibly well looked after. Now you may think that searching out a high mileage car is odd, the one I eventually found had 32,000 miles at two and a half years old. The idea of this was to get a car at a reduced price, as the intention was to sell her in six months, dragging the mileage down to a more average level. I ended up keeping it for nearly three years and the mileage was 38,000 when I sold it. Depreciation over that time was £6,500, not bad for a supercar that I owned for nearly three years!
The R8 is a beautiful machine, every time I saw her it made me feel really special and brought a smile to my face.
Climbing in, the anticipation of starting the engine was overwhelming. Probably like most enthusiasts, I always have a set routine. Climb in, ignition on and wait for all the lights to set themselves whilst watching the needles swoop around the dials. Turn the key to start the engine and just listen to the enhanced exhaust note as it revs higher for around thirty seconds. After this, when all the oil pressures are ready, the engine will settle down and we’re ready to go.
At low speed and on tight turning circles the wheel rub against the tarmac sounds awful, but it is perfectly normal. Then you move into more of a normal pace, changing through the silky smooth manual gearbox. Even without the non magnetic ride option, the ride is beautiful, steering is sharp and the car is flat through the corners holding its line like she’s on rails. I carried out the vacuum exhaust adjustment so that the valves on the exhaust are always open, giving it a deep throaty sound, not dissimilar to an American V8.
The R8 is surprisingly easy to use around town, handling all sorts of speeds as easy as a VW Golf. The only difference was finding a car parking space large enough for my own comfort. I was very particular where I parked. So I always aimed for the end spaces when going out. If I knew parking would be difficult, then the R8 stayed at home. Reaction from both other drivers and pedestrians was always positive, no one ever tried to race me and some other sportscar owners even pulled me over for a chat. Many times I have noticed people taking photos. In car parks, when I did find a space big enough, dads and their lads would often come over, have a chat and a good look over the car. Some people actually go mental when they see the car, jumping around, screaming and pointing. Take it to get new tyres and the tyre fitters just drop tools, come over and start asking about the car.
The R8 is spectacular on winding country roads, it holds the corners beautifully and accelerates wonderfully between them.
The only complaint I would have is when driving the R8 you always seem to be stuck behind something or someone. Give me a wide straight and it really doesn’t matter, but every other time I really thought I’d be better off in a regular hatchback. The R8 feels like you’re holding it back when it’s not being driven fast. The controls are incredibly light, even the clutch. It never comes to mind that the car is difficult to drive. Steering is similar at any speed, light but with plenty of feedback. The brakes are huge and give plenty of stopping power when needed. One small issue is when you wash the car, the hand brake can stick on if the car isn’t moved for a couple of days.
The exterior speaks for itself, beautiful, muscular, whilst at the same time being feminine. The lack of angular shapes really make it look smooth and sleek, giving it beautiful looks without being over-powering. The inside is luxurious, with all the creature comforts you’d get in a high class saloon, all well placed and easy to use. My only complaint would be the satnav, it’s functional but falls short when compared to others available nowadays. It’s difficult to use and does not do full postcodes.
When I sold it in February 2014 I could not believe how upset I was. I ended up keeping her for nearly three years when I initially intended just six months. Yes, the car remained exciting, not at the same level as when I first got her, but still exciting all the same. I never did get her detailed, but was tempted as I used to put my car in shows. I wouldn’t own a car like this without a warranty. During my three year ownership I had to replace the rear suspension arms, quite a common issue I believe with the earlier V8’s. When the arms are changed V10 versions are put on. The power steering pump and an oil cooler were also changed due to a leak from a seal. These seals are not available separately from the main part, hence the need to replace the whole unit. The car will be a classic, the first super car that Audi did and the V8’s could well be worth more than the V10’s.