The thing is, every performance-orientated Audi since the original Quattro (with the arguable exception of the RS4) has done just that, but you don’t have to read between the lines of Richard Meaden’s dispatch from the R8’s international launch in Las Vegas (evo 102) to know that it’s far more than a ‘poor man’s Lamborghini Gallardo’ or to rate its chances against any version of the 911 this side of a GT3 as better than even. And if it really is as good as it seems to be, it will rupture the supercar status quo just as surely as a couple of sidewinder missiles would rupture the Hoover Dam. Richard posed the question: ‘Are we really looking at a genuine, no-excuses alternative to the Porsche 911, or another promising challenger that ultimately falls wide of the mark?’ We’re not coming back without the answer.
The first electric, extraordinary miles in the R8 – experienced after 766 straight in the C4S – make me feel uneasy. Something isn’t right, and it’s the car. Or maybe its the tectonic plates beginning to shift beneath its wheels… I knew it would happen one day. Thing is, I didn’t expect it to be at the wheel of an Audi. The revelation is as shocking as it is thrilling. Game’s up. Porsche has made 1963 last for 44 years, now it’s time to move on.
But, in the end, purity of purpose and breadth of ability win the day, and no car here – probably none under £100K – expresses the fusion more perfectly than the R8. There are faster supercars, but we can’t think of another currently in production that takes a demanding road apart with quite the surgical precision and cool-browed composure of Audi’s incandescently rapid and hugely desirable R8.
So here’s the answer. It’s one we sometimes doubted we’d ever witness, but, for the good of the supercar’s evolution, it could hardly be better. Audi humbles Porsche. A new dawn starts today.