Few contemporary cars bewitched us so efficiently as the Audi R8. When the Le Mans concept debuted back in 2003 and Audi’s determination to build a sports car was revealed, it was initially unclear as to whether the company was trying to steal thunder from stablemates Lamborghini or merely seeking to best then rivals Porsche.
Perversely, the R8 took a dose of the former goal to achieve the latter, sharing several key parts with the Lamborghini Gallardo in its quest to build a perfect sports car. Now the parts-sharing is even more pronounced, as the original R8’s V8 engine is replaced by the same V10 unit found in the Gallardo, giving what was already a sprightly and highly wieldy machine a substantial power boost.
The R8 might have been born out of long-standing rivalry, but from the outset Audi took a very different approach to two-seater nirvana. The mid-engined layout is more ‘cab-forward’ than its rivals, enhanced by the car’s signature ‘blades’ just behind the doors. In profile, this gives the car a slightly unbalanced, leaning stance.