By Spencer Hart
When you receive an invitation from Audi to drive its latest supercar, the all new Audi R8, in the south of France, you can't turn that opportunity down - these invitations don't come around that often.
Last week I jetted off the Le Castellet to drive their new flagship model, and after two days of driving I left feeling pretty upset - not because the car was a disappointment, but because it'd be a long time until I'll be able to experience it again.
Is the R8 the perfect car? We think it could be, and here are 10 reasons why you should risk financial ruin to own one.
1. It's an everyday supercar
Let's start off with the obvious one, the R8 can be described as an 'everyday' supercar. Fast cars are generally pigs to drive slowly around town, but the Audi is smooth, with good visibility and ground clearance (no need to worry about pesky speed bumps).
You could commute in your Audi R8, and every morning you'd look forward to getting in it. You can't say that about most supercars.
We drove the R8 on a mixture of roads, autoroutes, twisty mountain paths, and around Bandol, a seaside town. It never felt too big, unwieldy, or uncomfortable.
Does this make is less special than more exotic cars? Perhaps, but cars are meant to be driven, right?
2. The V10 engine can be smooth or it can bite your head off
As we mentioned on the previous slide, the Audi R8 is very easy to drive slowly, power delivery is smooth, and thanks to the slick 7-speed S tronic gearbox, gear changes are instantanious and unnoticable.
That's in comfort mode of course. Things get a little more interesting when you turn the drive select into Dynamic or Sport.
The entry-level V10 produces 540 ps (around 532 bhp), and 540 Nm of torque. This powers the car to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Not quick enough for you? The V10 Plus produces a monstorus 610 ps (around 602 bhp), and 560 Nm of torque. It'll reach 62 mph in 3.2 seconds.
They're the "official figures", but one site, Motor Trend, claim they achieved a time of 2.8 seconds in the V10 Plus.
It's the fastest naturally aspirated car you can buy, so it sounds glorious as well, with no turbo to ruin the fun.
Keep your foot pressed down on the accelerator and the V10 Plus will reach a speed of 205 mph (the standard V10 will hit 198).
3. The interior is driver focused
The interior of the Audi R8 mimics the exterior, with taught, sculptured lines creating an aggressive look. Everything is covered in soft touch leather, and aimed towards the driver. To use aphrase, it's a real 'driver's cabin'. Sitting in the passenger seat there's really not that much to do, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
All of the controls are easily within reach. We especially love the steering, which features a large, red, stop/start button, amongother controls.
The infotainment system is placed behind the wheel, and the seats are very secure and comfortable. It's a very pleasant place to be.
4. The virtual dash is the best I've used
Now for some info on the tech - I've seen other car manufacturers implement a virtual dashboard before, but so far, Audi is my favourite.
I first used the 'virtual cockpit', as Audi calls it, in the TT, but it's available in most of the new Audi cars, including the A4and Q7. It's definitely an option worth specc'ing on those cars, but it comes as standard on the R8, which is good news.
It allows you to set up you cockpit exactly how you'd like, want the navigation to take centre stage? No problem. Want a more performance focused dash? Bring the tachometer to the centre, and have performance stats either side.
It's a very useful feature, and very well implemented.
5. It looks stunning
Just look at the car, it's beautiful.
It may not be as brash as a Ferrari or Lambo, but I love Audi's design. I like to equate Audi aesthetics to Apple's design, it's clean, sharp, and very desirable. Not fussy or complicated like some cars.
The R8 is slightly more angular than the outgoing model, the front grille is more aggressive - but it's very fitting for such a powerful car. It's still more understated than a lot of cars, but despite that I certainly received a lot of attention while driving it around Bandol.
Of course, some people may not like the look of the R8, and that's okay, there's room for more than one opinion.
6. It's economical (kind of)
Producing around 272 grams of CO2, and managing 24.8 MPG, the Audi R8 isn't exactly economic compared to my little Fiat 500. But compared to its rivals, it isn't too bad...
Of course, if you have the money to spend on this car, paying at the pump shouldn't be a problem, but if you want to save the planet, you better look elsewhere.
7. It's well lit
If there's one thing that Audi knows how to do (apart from making cars), it's lighting cars. The R8 features some really innovative lighting.
The wedge-shaped lights lookaggressive, and feature laser light technology which promises greater visibility and automatic dimming (so you don't blind other road users, but you can still see in front of you). They even turn as you steer, so the road is always well lit.
One of our favourite little touches? The engine bay features two LED lights, so the glorious V10 is on display at all times.
8. Because you think Ferraris and Lamborghinis are for posers
Rightly, or wrongly, Ferraris and Lamborghinis are frequently labeled as posers' cars. They're driven around London by rich people who'll never take it above 40 mph, which is asshame,because they're begging to be driven faster than that.
The Audi is more understated, less "showoff-y" (for want of a better word), and just as fast. If you like to be more understated, and sophisticated, the R8 could be for you.
9. It's a bargain
The standard Audi R8 V10 Plus comes in at £134,500 - that's not exactly cheap (in any sense of the word), but lit is a bona fide supercar - so it's a bargain, right?
That's how you need to pitch it to your significant other.
10. It even looks good in yellow
Not many cars look good in yellow, but the R8 in 'Vegas Yellow' looks great. That's a good enough reason to buy one right there.
- Stay tuned for a more comprehensive review of the Audi R8, when we'll be testing it on UK roads.