Italian Alps

The original Audi R8 2008 Audi R8 4.2 V8 Quattro - 6 Speed

In the early 2000s, if you wanted an everyday usable sports car that wasn’t a Porsche 911, you didn’t have many options. Ferrari with its V8 powered coupe was more expensive, and you wouldn’t want to bank on Lotus reliability to get you to work daily, meaning the 911 was your only choice. In 2003, Audi first showed a mid-engine sports car concept called the LeMans Quattro, a striking  mid-engine coupe. The car got enthusiasts excited enough to prompt Audi to begin developing a production version. Introduced to the public at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, the Audi R8 took the LeMans Quattro’s stunning design and altered it very little, resulting in what many people at the time claimed to be the best-looking car on sale. 

Nearly two decades later, the Audi R8 still exudes the aura of a true supercar. Its aesthetic appeal is apparent from every angle, featuring iconic LED lights at the front, prominent side blades along the profile, and a distinctive rear adorned with four exhaust pipes and a retractable wing.

We are at the bottom of one of our favorite places, the Lessinia hills, with a stunning black sample. While at the time of the launch, most people went for the R-Tronic paddle shift gearbox, the first owner of this car decided to choose the slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox with exposed metal gates. 

The 420hp 4.2-liter aluminum V8 sits low in its magnesium cradle, keeping the R8’s center of gravity down to the ground, while the Quattro all-wheel-drive is rear-biased, only delivering 10-35% of the torque to the front wheels. 

Navigating the cold and slippery roads on a sunny January afternoon, the Quattro traction, along with Pirelli tires, ensures the car remains firmly planted on the tarmac. The car exhibits impressive speed, not excessively fast, but undeniably swift. The steering it’s light and direct, making it easy to put the car exactly where you want it, with exceptional handling.

The V8 has the right amount of power, with a good level of torque at low rpm and a fierce growl on the way to the red line.  Being avid fans of manual transmissions, particularly when coupled with powerful engines, we find this classic coupe from Ingolstadt to be no exception.

Sit down into the comfortable and well bolstered driver’s seat, and you are greeted by a flat bottom steering wheel with controls for the stereo and MMI system, laid out in an easy-to-use format. Seeing as Audi is primarily a manufacturer of luxury cars, the R8 is fitted with everything you would come to expect in a luxury car of the era, including park distance sensors in the front and rear bumpers and heated seats for both the driver and passenger. However, our primary focus remains on the elegant gauge pod featuring a large speedometer and tachometer, with the central console dominated by the metal gear lever resembling a sculpted work of art.

In recent years everyone has gone crazy for Ferraris with gated manuals (we did too), and it is no surprise that the R8 is starting to receive the same sort of reception. When paired with Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel-drive, the R8 becomes the ultimate usable supercar, with no problem tackling any weather that may be thrown at it. Many of these cars were adopted as daily drivers and owners racked up the miles- a fast car that looks and sounds fabulous that can be driven 365 days per year without worry, just like a 911, only in a much more exotic way.

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