Jeremy Clarkson on the AUDI R8

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by DK, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. DK

    DK New Member

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    [possible repost]

    Audi R8

    It’s so comfortable you can run over anything up to a medium-sized fox and not even notice



    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    Jeremy Clarkson

    We all know what businessmen’s hotels are like. There’s a priority check-in section where you wait behind some rope, on a bit of carpet. There are staff in shiny suits who say things like “If there’s anything else at all for yourself at all”. And you are given a credit card key that makes lots of whirring noises when you put it in the lock but will not, no matter what you do, open the door.


    After you’ve kicked it down, you have the room. There’s no obvious button to turn off the fan, which sounds like a Foxbat jet. The light switch by the bed turns all the lights off, except one. Which can only be extinguished by hitting the bulb with your shoe. The plug you need to charge your mobile is always behind the mini bar, and the “tea and coffee making facilities” are designed to ensure you can’t make either.


    No, really: the kettle lead is never more than a foot long and the brown powder they put in the sachets is way closer on the periodic table to radium F than it is to coffee.


    The restaurant, furnished in beige, is overseen by a woman who says: “Can I get any bread items for yourself at all, sir?” and then hands you over to a 14-year-old Latvian girl who arrived in Britain that morning on the underside of a Eurostar train. Beer is not a word she’s familiar with, which is annoying because it’s what you want most of all in the world.


    Your fellow diners are chomping their way through their suppers, some reading books, some newspapers, and there’s always one whose reading the hotel’s smoking policy leaflet over and over again. Just killing time till they can go to their room and watch pornography.


    Businessmen’s hotels, I think, are the most miserable, soul destroying, soulless, energy sapping, embarrassing, badly run and badly organised edifices in the entire world. I’d rather stay in an igloo. And that’s before we get to the food.


    The menus are always written in a massively squiggly, curly-whirly typeface. And there’s much talk of jus and things being drizzled onto other things. But you know the chef is not from Paris or Rome. He’s from Darlington and he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing.


    As a general rule, I order items that even I couldn’t mess up, which is why, at a businessmen’s hotel next to Manchester airport last week, I went for a lamb chump with mashed potato and cabbage. “No, lamb. Lamb,” I said to the Latvian teenager. “A baby baa baa black sheep . . .”


    I was expecting something irradiated, something the colour of a camel’s dingleberry and with the texture of a cedar tree. But you know what? It was absolutely brilliant. Historic, as Michael Winner would bark.


    I thought it would be impossible to be so pleasantly surprised ever again. But then, as the next day dawned, I found I had to drive back to London in a new Range Rover . . . wait for it . . . diesel.


    The Range Rover is a car so ideally suited to a V8 that putting a diesel in the mix completely spoils the point. It’d be like putting diesel on your supper instead of gravy. The worst thing about a diesel is the noise it makes when you start it up. A Range Rover is elegant, dignified, luxurious. And a diesel’s rattle and clatter just don’t go with the look at all. It’s like ringing a sex chat line and being put through to the Duke of Marlborough.


    Strangely, however, the Range Rover made almost no noise when I started it, and even less on the move. What’s more, the fuel gauge stayed pretty much where it was on the entire three-hour schlep back to England. That was an even bigger surprise than the hotel’s chump.


    But it was nothing to the car that was waiting for me in London. The Audi R8.
    I had seen pictures of this mid-engined supercar and they left me underwhelmed. I thought it looked a bit boring, like a slightly bigger version of the TT. And it wasn’t going to be a real supercar, was it? Not when you remember Audi owns Lamborghini. I mean, why make a car to compete with your own brand? That’d be stupid.


    This view is reinforced when you climb inside. There are very few supercar extravagances. There’s no panic handle. No stitching made from yellowhammer feathers. No titanium machinegun triggers. It’s very grey, very Audi, very normal. And that’s fine, actually, because there are very few traditional supercar drawbacks either.


    You can see out, there’s room for your head, even if you have truly enormous hair, and there’s space for briefcases and whatnot on a shelf behind the seats. It’s big in there; much bigger than you’d believe.
    Then you set off and there are no histrionics. The exhaust makes a deep, meaningful rumble, but as is the way in Jaguar’s XK you can’t really hear it when you’re inside.


    So it’s spookily quiet, and that’s just the start of it. Because it is also spectacularly comfortable. I don’t mean comfortable . . . for a sports car. I mean it’s so comfortable you can run over anything up to a medium-sized fox and not even notice. Couple this to the usual array of Audi in-car entertainment – sat nav, a hi-fi from Bang & Olufsen no less – and you have a car that, like the Porsche 911, you really could live with every day.


    You needn’t even worry about the engine. It’s not a W16 with eight turbos and plugs that foul themselves at every set of lights. It doesn’t run on fertiliser and grated tiger chippings. Instead, it’s the 414bhp 4.2 V8 from the RS 4. I’ve described this as one of the best engines made today and a drive in the R8 has not changed my mind. It does everything, brilliantly.


    Of course, you cannot really expect a quiet, comfortable car with the engine from a saloon to perform well on a track. The suspension would be too soft. The power not quite grunty enough. The track is Lambo land. The Audi belongs in a city, soothing the fevered brow of the man with the midlife crisis, while massaging his ego, all at the same time. Wrong. Very, very wrong. In fact the Audi is outstanding when there’s nothing coming the other way. It’s not blisteringly fast. From rest to 120, it goes at almost exactly the same rate as the Porsche 911 Carrera S. And flat out it’ll be out of steam before it gets to 190. But to dismiss it for this is to miss the point.


    The four-wheel-drive system affords a huge level of grip, but because it’s been tuned so no more than 30% of the power is ever sent to the front wheels you don’t get the dreary understeer that’s plagued all quattro cars in the past.


    You turn in, feel the grip, add power, the rear starts to slide, you apply some opposite lock, balance the throttle and then . . . and then . . . you start to realise you are driving one of the all-time greats. It’s not a hefty car. You don’t manhandle it through the bends. It flows, delicately and precisely.


    I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car that works so well on both the road and the track. Even if you remove my natural prejudice against the Porsche 911, I believe the Audi has it licked on all counts. Except perhaps one . . .
    The Audi is listed at just under £77,000 and that looks good, but if you want any equipment at all, that shoots up fast. The car I drove, which had a manual gearbox rather than flappy paddles, and normal brakes rather than ceramic discs, still cost a whopping £92,000. Even the leather interior was an optional extra.


    But look at it this way. The R8 shares some parts and infrastructure with the Lamborghini Gallardo. And that’s £125,000. Anyone who’s just bought a baby Lambo – me – must be feeling as sick as a dog right now. Because in so many ways the R8 is better. Yes, the Lambo is more exciting, louder and harder. But on the other 363 days of the year, when you just want a nice car . . .


    The only problem is that Audi cannot build the R8 fast enough. There are difficulties with making the carbon fibre panels, and as a result it can manage just 20 a day. That’s nowhere near enough to satisfy demand, especially when a more powerful V10 comes on stream next year.
    In the meantime I can safely say the R8 is one of the best surprises of my motoring life. It is one of the truly great cars and the only hesitation I have in giving it five stars is that, ideally, I’d like to give it six.


    Vital statistics
    Model Audi R8
    Engine 4163cc, eight cylinders
    Power 414bhp @ 7800rpm
    Torque 317 lb ft @ 4500rpm
    Transmission Six-speed manual
    Fuel 19.3mpg (combined cycle)
    CO2 349g/km
    Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.6sec
    Top speed 187mph
    Price £76,825
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  2. DK

    DK New Member

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  3. Kelvin96GSR

    Kelvin96GSR OEM>YOU

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  4. Bona Fide

    Bona Fide Guest

    How much is it going to cost in the US?
     
  5. DK

    DK New Member

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    109k iirc.
     
  6. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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    Jeremy Clarkson :love:
     
  7. Kelvin96GSR

    Kelvin96GSR OEM>YOU

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    only downfall is that it's far too expensive for being so slow
     
  8. DK

    DK New Member

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    i agree to an extent. 20-30k less would be perfect.
     
  9. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    It'll sell anyway. :dunno:
     
  10. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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    Because speed is everything.
     
  11. Kelvin96GSR

    Kelvin96GSR OEM>YOU

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    :werd:
     
  12. DK

    DK New Member

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    [​IMG]


    i like the interior, bu they could have made it a little better. eg the dash is pretty boring. aston does a far better job, even at the baby aston.
     
  13. Cheeks

    Cheeks New Member

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    Good review...but the price isn't justifiable.
     
  14. DK

    DK New Member

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    yeh, i really enjoyed the first half.

    i have always despite these shitty business hotels, you never know where the fuck in the world you are. bratislava or new york, leicester or leipzig, they all look the same.
     
  15. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    yep its a repost.

    Im sure the R8 is a brilliant car, but since i will proberbly never drive one, i can't respect it until it gets more powerful.
     
  16. DK

    DK New Member

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    i'd proberbly buy a 911 for the money.
     
  17. Mperor

    Mperor Banned

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    looks ugly to me
     
  18. Irom

    Irom OT Supporter

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    pretty car
     
  19. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    no doubt here.

    Im not sure why, but i just don't find this car interesting :hs:
     
  20. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    Having said that, i'd much prefer a RS4 or a V8 M3 to the 911 for alot less money.

    Or a AMV8.
     
  21. DK

    DK New Member

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    real sportscar > sporty sedan or coupé. not saying m3 and rs4 aren't lovely cars, but the 911, especially in the better versions, is a REAL sportscar.

    gt3 :drool:
     
  22. pH(x)

    pH(x) Young Vader

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    Looks good, actually.
     
  23. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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    You apparently haven't driven one for a while :hsugh:
     
  24. bigphil

    bigphil New Member

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    an Ideal DD imo, next to a Carrera 4S
     
  25. Irvin Washington

    Irvin Washington New Member

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    Same. It's shaping up to be a great car, but for that kind of money, I'd go with something else.
     

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