Highly Rated: Test Drive Of The Audi R8
One of the most hotly anticipated cars this year, Audi has positioned its R8 as the supercar for all occasions. Our motoring expert Ian Kuah finds out if the car lives up to its hype
Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet in the South of France was built in 1969 by the eponymous eccentric drinks magnate. Home to the French Grand Prix from 1985, it was also where future French aces like Jean Alesi, Olivier Panis, Didier Peroni, Alain Prost, and Patrick Tambay earned their racing stripes.
After Monsieur Ricard’s passing in 1999, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone bought it for $11 million and completely rebuilt it. The circuit is now only used as a winter testing facility for F1 teams, and by car manufacturers for product launches.
I’ve driven quite a few very quick cars at Paul Ricard in recent years, including the bombastic CLK DTM AMG. Today, we’re going to take the new Audi R8 to its limits to find out if this car, which represents a huge leap in philosophy for the Ingolstadt manufacturer, is as good as we had hoped.
My R8 test car looked good sitting in the pit lane, its metallic blue paintwork set off nicely by the contrasting silver ‘blade’ aft of the driver’s door. I had the choice of silver, black or light blue metallic, but it took all of one second to decide that the car looked best in this combination.
Thanks to its quattro 4WD power distribution, wide track and low body roll, the R8 immediately feels good on the track. The Magnetic Ride system that provided such impressive comfort on the nearby country roads is now in Sport mode. On this billiard table smooth track, it further reduces roll and helps the car feel more “pointy” when you ask it to turn in to a bend.