2007 Audi R8 Type 42

2007 Audi R8 Type 42

I’d had the R8 about a month when a neighbour sauntered over and asked if I had won the lottery. Sitting on his drive at the time was a new Renault Zoe with a list price that would comfortably see him into an R8. Not as nice as this one, but a decent R8. And that is the beauty of this generation of Audi: it went into production 15 years ago and has aged so well that people just assume it is still a new car. Why shouldn’t they? It still looks like one, it still drives like one and it still gets the reception of one wherever it goes. Please at least finish reading this before you start browsing.

Can I keep it, please?

For full disclosure, the original R8 is probably my favourite car of this millennium, especially the V8 with a manual gearbox, so when myself, my boss Steve Fowler and Audi PR man Johnny Bum hatched a plan to help the UK wing exercise some of its heritage fleet, my arm went up so quick I nearly dislocated my shoulder.

2007 Audi R8 Type 42

The car in question was a 2007 (T42 gen) manual 4.2 FSI V8, the one as far as I am concerned, with all the benefits of a Lamborghini Gallardo platform and none of its lairiness in styling or colouring. As you would expect from a company with a colour chart that resembles the Caran d’Ache graphite selection, it comes in a suitably sober and industrial palette of grey. But there is that two-tone side blade’ that offends so many, but I think complements the main body colour perfectly.

The brief included using the Audi as my daily driver, in London and beyond. In town it felt a bit broad at nearly 2m across, yet also surprisingly agile and manageable. There were a few speedhumps I avoided for the full two months (the car killers in Common Road, Barnes) but, as time passed, confidence rose and I realised that most were no more of an obstacle for the R8 than they are for my wife’s Polo.

Even though I did it at every opportunity and enjoyed it immensely, however, pottering around and posing in London is not what this car is really about.

That’s not to say it doesn’t still give you a wonderful feelgood factor at any speed thanks to that open six-speed gate, V8 burble and constant discreet attention.

In fact, I did 250 miles solely in town in my first week, but my custodianship, which started in mid-August, also included some pretty good trips such as Salon Prive, from which I made a huge detour on the way home to take in some favourite A-roads. And it was there that my lust became love. The R8 is such a brilliant driver’s car and a lot of thought has clearly gone into creating that.

Despite the extra weight of the four-wheel drive system, it’s light by modern standards thanks in part to the aluminium and carbonfibre body. As a result, the handling is other-worldly and it jinks in a way that a 1500kg car really shouldn’t be able to. Yet, apart from the sharpness of the brakes, it is the pure supercar gearchange, combining the sensations of a classic with the efficiency of a modem, plus the fluidity of the steering, that is comparable to the most nimble of 1960s lightweight sports cars that set the bar so high.

It is also blisteringly quick, the gurgling all-aluminium 32-valve engine pummelling it to 62mph in 4.6sec and on to a top speed of 187mph. Slow in comparison to the current model, but still enough to quicken the pulse.

It is very easy to lose yourself in this car and the driving experience still feels so sharp and new that the rudimentary nature of the in-car entertainment and sat-nav repeatedly comes as a surprise. Though for me it has always been a case of the less distraction the better.

Downsides: it is thirsty and, admittedly when the new school term started and children needed transporting in twos more often, suddenly the R8 seemed rather less practical — but that’s it. As long as you never need to take a lot of luggage anywhere with you.

Of course, the example I had was on-the-button, fastidiously maintained by the company that sired it, so I have no idea about maintenance costs or the perils of buying an early R8. Still would if I had the wherewithal, though.

Trawl the internet and you might find a few in the £20,000s, but you really want to be spending nearer double that. If that’s still a bit risky for you, spend a bit more and buy a new one, which will now get to 60mph a second-and- a-half quicker, from £130,000.

My only regret was that I didn’t put more miles on this one. I was given a limit of 2000 and I rue every one of those that I didn’t take advantage of.

2007 Audi R8 Type 42

Above and right R8 was made for the open road, yet it's far from out of place when tackling London's urban grind; V8 is glorious, manual the transmission of choice.

‘I took a detour to take in some favourite A-roads. And it was there that my lust became love’
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