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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I finally decided to drive an R8 and arranged a test drive for this afternoon. I'd deliberately avoided driving one because having placed my order in early 2007 and with it not being due until Dec '08, I wanted to pace myself and save my drive to inspire me mid-way through my wait.

I contribute to EVO magazine and was due to join the ECOTY trip to France in mid-Oct, when I would have had the chance of a few hundred miles in an R8. All I got this afternoon was 40-50 or so miles (in the rain), although that was plenty of time to form an opinion on most characteristics.

I have to admit I am a little disappointed. It's a good car, and since it was an accompanied drive along crowded roads I didn't get much opportunity to sample the extreme edge of the R8s handling.

I drove there in my RS4 (which has had its exhaust valves disconnected) and first impressions were that the R8 sounded quiet. Second impression was that it lacked torque compared to my RS4. I reconciled myself that I could remedy that with a change to the exhaust and a remap, and whilst the R8 felt slightly quicker at the top-end of the rev range, my overall impression of its performance was that it felt slower most of the time than my RS4 (R8 had 3000 miles on the clock whilst my RS4 has 7000). The engine sounded quiet but crisper and with a nice howl at higher revs. I preferred the R8s' sound to the RS4, and also on heel-and-toe downchanges the R8's revs blipped higher and sounded better so I marked it up for that.

Next impression was the steering, which I did not like. Apart from the RS4's chunky wheel which I prefer, the steering on the R8 is lower geared and much less responsive than the RS4s. I was almost searching for a sport button to sharpen the steering and improve low-rev response. Again, after 10-20 miles I got used to its steering but there's no doubt I would have preferred a more responsive rack.

Ride quality (with magnetic ride) seemed good, although not as good as the RS4, whilst body control was better but not significantly so. As I said, I did not get the chance to drive it as hard on challenging roads as I would normally do, so I will reserve final judgement until I do. Good friends of mine who have regularly done so assure me that it is inspired, and whilst I am sure that's true it felt different rather than significantly better than its Ingolstadt sibling.

I guess I was expecting the R8 to feel really a league ahead of the RS4 (which I bought as a stop-gap whilst waiting for the R8), but instead I found that the R8 did not feel as overtly sporting as the RS4, almost as if it was an 'S' model Audi and there would be an 'RS' model produced at a later date.

I am used to driving and racing different cars, so perhaps I'm not the customer Audi was aiming at. I have no interest in the R8 as an everyday car, and whilst it would be special to take out of the garage at the weekends it did not feel as eminently driver focused as I had hoped.

I have both an RS4 and Mk2 TT amongst other cars, and the R8 felt like the offspring of both those cars, but in a purpose-built mid-engined chassis. Again, I did expect something along those lines but I had not expected that the RS4 would feel better in certain areas. I also have an AMG ML63 which feels significantly quicker than the R8, which is something I would rather not be the case.

My order for an R8 remains, but I'm now even less likely to spec it heavily. It felt (to me) like it was worth 25% more than the RS4, not the 55% that its likely to cost me. Add to the fact that Audi are charging for items that are standard in the RS4 (such as Bucket seats, or adaptive damping) and I can't help feeling that Audi are taking the pi$$ with its pricing.

I am sharing my views as a honest impression of how the R8 came across to me, and perhaps because I am buying it purely as a drivers car rather than for its looks or prestige, then maybe that's why it impressed me less. It feels to me that Audi were trying to appeal to the widest range of customers who had the means to buy it, and in doing so have produced a car devoid of the kind of edge that rewards good driving. Perhaps the V10 version will be the more viceral version, but I'm not inclined to switch my order to that until I've driven it and made sure.

So, that still makes the R8 a great achievement by Audi, but clearly it is geared towards being more of a daily drive and therefore usability has taken a rather higher priority that I would ideally prefer.
 

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I think (from a 30 mile test drive) the RS4 felt quite edgy and invigorating. I think the R8 is more subtle it how it delivers its fun.

There was a chap who felt the same about his RS4 and didn't go ahead with his R8 order.

I do think the car is targeted at the daily driver (and to those who aren't track day gods) - they have Lambo to do the sunny weekend drives.

I am confused why you are going ahead with the order. It is a lot of money to feel a little disapponted every time you drive. I know if I feel that then I will sell fairly quickly

Ian
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ian, I am conscious that there may be changes to the R8 as a result of the V10 and Spyder being launched that could also be applied to the R8. It makes no sense to cancel my order at the moment, and I would still like a further drive along more challenging roads. I'm sure the chassis will come alive when I push it harder, however I'm still a little disappointed in the two areas I found lacking (steering and engine performance).

I know I can address the engine performance, and I wasn't expecting it to be much faster than the RS4 but I'd like it to have the point-and-squirt torque delivery that I admire in the RS4. I'm sure that must be possible with a little fettling.

Steering bothers me more, its the most important single element of the car for me and it bugs me that they didn't make it as responsive as the RS4. I can only conclude that Audi were concerned about its suitability for a wide range of drivers. That bugs me. Why build a supercar and yet dilute one of its most important driver interfaces?
 

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Steve,

Your comments on power delivery are interesting. The basic engine is the same as the current RS4, with a few changes here and there.

My RS4 is the older 2.7 turbo, MTM chipped from 380 to 420 bhp. It should therefore be a very good performance match for the R8.

The first time I drove an R8, I too was disappointed. The 2.7 turbo kicks in early on and appears to give much more power and at lower revs that the R8. It also a much greater sense of "urgency".

I drive both cars regularly and have done 90,000 miles in two RS4's and only 3,000 in the R8. Given the opportunity, I drive the R8.

It still puzzles me, but the conclusion that I have come too is that the power delivery on the R8 is much smoother and more subtle and it is this perception which causes it to feel slower. Greater engine noise and a rougher chassis on my RS4 add to the perception that you are going faster.

However, magazine test figures indicate performance 0-60 and 1/4 mile are near identical.

I have only driven a RS4 B7 4.2 once and that was on a Audi day on a track last year. Due to the passage of time, it is difficult to compare directly, but I would have to say that my memory perceives it to be faster than the R8 on the straight.

I would guess that your power delivery concerns may also be as a result of "perception" issues.

On the handling, try taking corners very fast and that's where you notice the R8 coming very much into own.

I am used to the power delivery of turbo engines and had hoped for one in an R8. I admit to being disappointed when I found out the R8 was a normally aspirated V8 4.2 with "only" 420 bhp, whereas the Le Mans concept car was 620 bhp.

I would love a turbo in an R8, but with three test cars burned to a crisp, it's just not going to be.

I too hope that the V10 will have a little more noise, grunt and a fraction less subtlety than the V8. But then again it may lose a little in the process; I do not want a Lambo that needs pushing hard all the time...........

We shall see.......

In the meantime, I very much enjoy the R8.

As you say, try driving one again under harsher conditions when the opportunity arises.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
My B7 RS4 is only 4 months old, so the engine is around the same age as the V8 in the R8, but I was also disappointed with my RS4 initially, and it helped a lot to disengage the exhaust valves. Even so, the R8 felt slower than my RS4 prior to its exhaust mod. I did wonder if the RS4 perhaps has shorter gearing - can anyone confirm?

My take on the R8s performance is not down to perception though, my RS4 always has plenty of torque no matter which gear its in, whereas the R8 that I drove was quite easily caught out, needing a change down in gears just to keep up with other (more mundane) traffic. With the throttle nailed it would build up and once on cam was quick, but not more so than my RS4. (It's worth saying at this stage that I don't perceive my RS4 to be THAT quick, so as a baseline I'd hope the R8 would be somewhat better)

It just obviously lacked torque lower down in the revs. Now I've driven and tested enough cars to know that it matters how a car is run-in, and this was a demo car that had been kerbed and generally driven carelessly. After 20 minutes or so of full-throttle driving the engine response did improve compared to when I started, so it had clearly been driven by prospective customers afraid to use it as God intended.

When I first bought my RS4 last September, I was able to cover a few hundred miles in one of the new S5s and was disappointed to find that had more urgency to its acceleration at lower revs. That's when I experimented and found the exhaust valve modification on my RS4. So experience tells me that it should be possible to improve the R8, but it didn't accelerate like a car which was 200kg lighter than an RS4 and with the same engine (in fact the R8 has been shown to have more power/torque when compared on a dyno).

Anyway, as I have said, I am sure the performance can be extracted by a bit of tuning, but it sticks in my throat somewhat that this should be necessary on a £85k car.

No, my biggest issue is with the steering and the feeling that Audi (like with the latest S5) have deliberately stepped back from greatness to deliver a car that can be driven by more people. I would like a front-end that's more pointy and therefore a more neutral-oversteer balance and that wasn't forthcoming with such a low-geared steering. A change in geo settings are likely to be needed to overcome the steering's aloofness, but again I feel that I am having to modify the car.

I will try again and this time try and drive an R8 for a longer period, although when I asked I got the usual story (we can sell as many of these cars as we make, so Audi don't need to give people extended test drives to convince them...)
 

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Steve,

Nice and honest drive impression from you.

BTW, I drove R8 against my friends RS4(SS+) Saloon in October last year and I can tell you that your impression about overall speed is pretty accurate. R8(in my hands) was not any faster then RS4(in my friend hands). BUT, on moderately demanding country road(dry tarmac) R8 was pretty much faster in curves then RS4. I also found R8 steering little bit akward but, with some speed it become pretty telepatic(and much more involving then RS4 steering which is too light at low speed). All in all IMHO R8 is a huge step forward in drive dynamics then RS4(and track times in Bedford-UK, Hockenheim-Germany, Oschersleben-Germany and Nordschleife-Germany confirmed that). Alain Prost in comparison for Italian Quattroroute also liked R8 much more then RS4.
BUT, I agree with you fully that R8 is overall NOT fast(in straight line) enought for the money.

We also drove 997 Turbo(manual with PCCBs and LSD) next day against R8. 997 Turbo is much more damanding car(its steering is much sharper then R8s), specially on the limit since it dances between understeer ann then switches to sudden oversteer. It is a car for experienced driver if you want to push it really hard on curvy country road. On autobahn it is the king-R8 is much slower then 997 Turbo(even Gallardo or F430 are not that fast). For example when I pushed 997 Turbo to around 290km/h(speedo) R8 wanished from my rear view mirror. My friend in R8 said to me that from 160km/h he could not keep up with me in 997 Turbo. And he was pushing R8 all the way...

My verdict is the 997 Turbo is a awsome car but, R8 is better and more involving drivers car. And R8 looks way better IMHO...

Now, I have a question for you-do you prefere new M3 over R8?

I drove manual M3 briefly last week and to my big supriese it feels faster in straight line then R8. With M-DCT it will be even faster. BUT, it looks like beeefy 3 series to me... Only one thing-new M3 is truly drivers car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Hi Kreso, I was just speaking with Richard Meaden who set the R8's times around Bedford and he was wondering if perhaps the press cars were 'enhanced' by Audi compared to customer cars, because he felt that the R8 felt faster than the RS4. He also drives an S5 as his long-term car, which to me felt more torquey than the R8 at lower speeds. I'm sure that the R8 I drove had not been treated in the way I would treat a new car. I always run my engines in hard, ensuring the optimum piston ring seal in the cylinders and they tend to perform better as a consequence.

I would choose an R8 over the new M3, but the dilemma that I have is that I am first on the list for the new E92 M3 CSL. I still have my E46 CSL, suitably tuned to 380bhp and that's noticeably quicker than my RS4. The next M3 CSL will be 450bhp+ and will be much quicker than an R8. So, my R8 will probably come in September this year whereas the next CSL will probably not be out until after Geneva 2009. If I had to choose between E92 M3 CSL and R8, based on my drive yesterday then I would choose the CSL, even though I like the accomplished looks of the R8.

I will find another opportunity to drive an R8 before I decide any further, but wouldn't it have been nice if Audi had made the decision easier. It's not the absolute speed of the R8, but it would be nice if that speed was more effortless. Also since I'm the kind of driver that gets a car dancing on the road, and love to indulge in oversteer I prefer a sharper steering and at the moment I find the R8 lacking in this area.
 

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To send "Special" R8's to be tested would be a very daft indeed. The class actions that could result would wipe out the halo effect.

We are not in the days of the E-type where a manufacturer can just lie.

Has Richard contacted Audi with regards the cars. Better still has he tried a customer car?
 

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Did you read ECOTY issue of EVO? They clearly said that R8(Ice Silver) example on Bedford felt much faster then Phantom Black example that they drove in France. So, build your own conclusion...

Further, the fastest measured 0-200km/h for R8 is 15.2s(by German Auto Zeitung). Sport Auto did 16.2s... Audi factory claim is 14.9s...

I am not saying that R8 is slow but, it is not as fast as Audi says.

Still, it is brilliant drivers car IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
To send "Special" R8's to be tested would be a very daft indeed. The class actions that could result would wipe out the halo effect.

We are not in the days of the E-type where a manufacturer can just lie.

Has Richard contacted Audi with regards the cars. Better still has he tried a customer car?
Manufacturers do provide 'special' cars particularly on launch events, the rationale is that they are still in development and the final state of tune is being decided upon. The M3 that I tested last summer at the launch event was noticeably louder than the ones that BMW gave us post-launch, their reasoning was that they felt it was too loud for the road.

I'm not sure with Audi, I would have thought that most of these press cars are proper production cars, but they may have been careful to choose the best ones. Richard hasn't tried a customer car yet since they are in such short supply, so its always a car provided by Audi UK' press fleet.
 

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Hi Kreso, I was just speaking with Richard Meaden who set the R8's times around Bedford and he was wondering if perhaps the press cars were 'enhanced' by Audi compared to customer cars, because he felt that the R8 felt faster than the RS4. He also drives an S5 as his long-term car, which to me felt more torquey than the R8 at lower speeds. I'm sure that the R8 I drove had not been treated in the way I would treat a new car. I always run my engines in hard, ensuring the optimum piston ring seal in the cylinders and they tend to perform better as a consequence.

I would choose an R8 over the new M3, but the dilemma that I have is that I am first on the list for the new E92 M3 CSL. I still have my E46 CSL, suitably tuned to 380bhp and that's noticeably quicker than my RS4. The next M3 CSL will be 450bhp+ and will be much quicker than an R8. So, my R8 will probably come in September this year whereas the next CSL will probably not be out until after Geneva 2009. If I had to choose between E92 M3 CSL and R8, based on my drive yesterday then I would choose the CSL, even though I like the accomplished looks of the R8.

I will find another opportunity to drive an R8 before I decide any further, but wouldn't it have been nice if Audi had made the decision easier. It's not the absolute speed of the R8, but it would be nice if that speed was more effortless. Also since I'm the kind of driver that gets a car dancing on the road, and love to indulge in oversteer I prefer a sharper steering and at the moment I find the R8 lacking in this area.

Steve,

Richard's remark could be true(sad thing IMHO). Also, S5 indeed feels more torquey then R8. It is confirmed by measurements by German mags(AMS, Sport Auto and Auto Zeitung). Horst von Saurma from Sport Auto said in his S5 Supertest that R8 is slower in in-gear acceleration then S5. BTW, his findings regarding steering feel, overall drive dynamics of R8 are very similar to your findings...

For me clear problem(for me personally since I order R8 as you did) is that C63 AMG and M3(with M-DCT) are both faster then R8. Worst thing is that M3 with M-DCT could even beat R8 around Ring...

I already decide that I will buy M3 with M-DCT to have it along side with my R8.
 

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Did you read ECOTY issue of EVO? They clearly said that R8(Ice Silver) example on Bedford felt much faster then Phantom Black example that they drove in France. So, build your own conclusion...

.
I just read it again and I can't find the reference you speak of - I only scanned the Audi bits though
 

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Whenever I know that it was a preproduction it's always to be taken with a pinch of salt. I don't recall if the article said that.

Wasn't the test taken after they had been launched and actually shipping?
 

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I just read it again and I can't find the reference you speak of - I only scanned the Audi bits though
Well, Richard Meaden himself said that Phantom Black one(used on ECOTY) is not feeling as fast as Ice Silver one used for Bedford amazing track time.

Re-read complete article again...
 

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Well, Richard Meaden himself said that Phantom Black one(used on ECOTY) is not feeling as fast as Ice Silver one used for Bedford amazing track time.

Re-read complete article again...

Just did - can you point me to the page as I certainly can't see it. We may have different mags?
 

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Define "fast"... to me that's a lot more than straight line speed. If you are worried about that, get the R10

For me the attraction with the R8 is the chassis.. though i haven't been able to confirm that myself yet :). It's the balance and "rightness" of the chassis that appears to allow the R8 to punch above its weight... and I love that.

All manufacturers give the press their best cars.... that said, if there was an easy way to wring more out of the V8 it would be in the production car. The market is too competitive. The R8 I (briefly) drove certainly felt quick enough... yes you have to rev the nuts off it, but that's the fun of

Manufacturers use Ring times as marketing tools these days... I think most of them are fiction. I would be surprised if the M3 CSL would beat the R8... but at the end of the day, it wouldn't bother me.

I have driven a Koenigsegg CCXR to over 200mph (on the factory airfield, with Christian next to me)... you begin to realise that cars can be too quick :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Define "fast"... to me that's a lot more than straight line speed. If you are worried about that, get the R10

For me the attraction with the R8 is the chassis.. though i haven't been able to confirm that myself yet :). It's the balance and "rightness" of the chassis that appears to allow the R8 to punch above its weight... and I love that.

All manufacturers give the press their best cars.... that said, if there was an easy way to wring more out of the V8 it would be in the production car. The market is too competitive. The R8 I (briefly) drove certainly felt quick enough... yes you have to rev the nuts off it, but that's the fun of

Manufacturers use Ring times as marketing tools these days... I think most of them are fiction. I would be surprised if the M3 CSL would beat the R8... but at the end of the day, it wouldn't bother me.

I have driven a Koenigsegg CCXR to over 200mph (on the factory airfield, with Christian next to me)... you begin to realise that cars can be too quick :)
I wouldn't go for the V10 version because I already feel that Audi have priced the R8 uncompetitively, especially if compared to the other cars in their range sporting the same basic engine.

You'd be surprised that manufacturers don't always give their best cars for testing by the press, I've had several shockers and it wasn't beyond Porsche to provide us with a Boxster S and leave it with very little engine oil in the sump.

Ring times are not a fantasy and even my E46 M3 CSL would be quicker around the Ring than the R8, but its not a bragging contest so that doesn't matter when buying a car such as this. As long as its respectable.

"Fast" enough is more to do with driveability when on the road, and when you realise that a particular engine (such as in the R8) does not 'need' to be so devoid of low-down torque its puzzling why that is so. As I said, it really was not as quick at low to medium revs as my 200kg heavier B7 RS4 Avant, and I'd like to drive another one and find out why.
 

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Pretty much agree with what you've said in first post. I have an 06 RS4, since new, and was initially reasonably underwhelmed by R8 on track at cutsomer test day in comparison. I think that you have to accept the R8 for what it is - a good looking, fast, well-sorted everyday car. It's not a GT3, and it's not the leap forward that the RS4 was. However, it is an easy car to live with, and one whcih you can throw around without much fear of it biting back - one of the reasons I thought it was a bit "soft"...

After the track day, I was very close to cancelling my order, and I think driving it on the track highlighted its shortcomings, especially if you've been used to driving real race cars. It was a conversation with my local Audi dealer that brought me back round. He said it is good on the track, but better on the road- "like an A8 on the motorway".

So, it's a good compromise, and given that you can rarely drive a car flat out on the road (if ever), and that it looks the part, and does handle well when pushed, then I'm pretty relaxed about it. I want a fast car that I can use everyday, and has all the luxury bits, and which you can hear yourself talk on the mobile - have done the Integra Type-R sort of thing, and no wish to go back!. In fact the closer delivery gets (now about 4 weeks away), the more I'm looking forward to it. I could have had one earlier, but decided to wait until the RS4 was 2 years old, in an uncharacteristic display of self-restraint!

Also on the plus side, you will find it is more pliable than the RS4 when driven hard, and can be thrown into corners and into oversteer at will, rather than the more understeer oriented RS4. The engine does take a while to light up though, but definitely better behind you than in front...

And anyway, how many 911's do you see in a day..?

Having said that, like you, I have held back on the options, and can't imagine I'll take a V10 over a gallardo, or maybe even an RS version of Grandturismo in a couple of years time.
 

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Interesting thread guys. I guess it all comes down to what we are looking for. I have had a V6 RS4 avant which, tho' heavy, I loved, and the 4.2 RS4,which I found strangely disappointing after the V6 Turbo . I don't really know why, it was quick but somehow unsatisfying, but all 'n all I prefer the R8.
Like R8ecosse I think it is an incredible all round package. All of us who have taken delivery of our cars know what a head turner it is. It is undoubtedly very practical day to day if like me it is your main transport, but it is still a very quick, superbly balanced car when you want to misbehave. Having driven a Group A Escort cosworth rally car in the past, all that firebreathing,neck snapping,ear bursting, anti lag brutal thing was fun at the time, but exhausting if you were in the car for any time. I think Audi have given us an excellent compromise here as the car is "all things" but it is not an outright racecar. It does however perform **** well on the track tho, and if you want a racecar, I'm sure there is more to be extracted from the engine if that is what you seek. I think the R8 is the ultimate Grand Tourer and I am looking forward to the Summer and an adventure ,maybe to the South of France, and to getting there in comfort and at speed.:D
 
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