Audi R8

12 MOULD BREAKERS

Ingolstadt rediscovers vehicle dynamics

I’LL never forget laughing right in the face of a lovely Audi PR lady after they'd taken us to see Will Smith’s I, Robot (not a biopic about his acting ability, sadly).

We’d been dragged along to enjoy the few minutes of footage featuring a futuristic and fantastic-looking Audi, and when we asked why they’d bothered she told us – straight-faced – that we were getting a preview look at one of their new cars.

I think a little bit of spit came out and hit her in the face, which is embarrassing, but really, how was I to know that Audi had already designed the R8 by then (2004), and would go on to actually sell it in 2007?

Germans don’t – or didn’t – make supercars. Only Italians and some mad Nordics go in for that kind of business, so it wasn’t as if Audi would actually release something that amazing-looking.

But build it they did, and its very existence lifted the world’s appreciation for the brand no end. Merc (SLS) and BMW (i8) have since paid it the ultimate compliment by joining the supercar club as well.

Perhaps the cleverest thing Audi did with the R8, though, and another way it broke the mould entirely, was borrowing a proper, rip-snorting V10 engine from its sister company, supercar legend Lamborghini. The 5.2 FSI quattro was unveiled in December 2008, and for the first time it combined Germanic perfection and exactitude with a soulful and superb Italian heart.

The R8 e-tron could even be said to have followed in its mould-breaking footsteps.

LEAP OF FAITH

Better than the movie it debuted in and, particularly with an open-gate manual, more of a collector’s item.

PLUS MINUS

TEST OF FAITH

It still can’t drive itself like Will Smith’s Audi in the movie did… but, that may well be its next trick.