2013 Audi R8 V10: First Drive
What does it take a car maker to be acknowledged as a charter member of the blue riband sports car class? A class of car where it is as much about technology as it is about style, it is as much about power and torque as it is about how this is put to use, it is as much about aura and prestige as it is about race track success and a few more intangible bits.
Those who have dominated the senses are marques like Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Aston Martin, et al with a few others but then these are the uber sports car makers which have continued the dominance of the mind even though some of them might not have had active sports car racing programmes underway and that also includes perhaps Ferrari when it comes to outright LMP1 category machines.
One of the newest car makers to get into the sports car category with offerings across the range, read that as entry level as well as in the Ferrari-matching world, has been Audi and while the Audi TT has been its, for want of a better word, entry level offering, it has been its R8 mid-engined sports car with which it has gone Ferrari-hunting and Porsche-bashing! Ever since it burst on the scene, the R8 has been defined in the very role the 911 plays for Porsche – a versatile machine that can do the daily all round commute yet has the firepower and the essence to induce its pilot to take the long way back home every day.
While this usability factor lies at the heart of the R8’s success, it was also evident that as the rest of the rarefied pack at the top of the sportscar pecking order were adding firepower in their arsenal, they were also adding quick acting tech to get this power to fire at the earliest hint from the pilot at the helm. It was all about getting the 8, 10, 12 or 16 cylinders to ignite and unleash the torque so that the gut wrenching force was not just sent to the driving wheels, it was utilised completely so that the quickest off the blocks could work to the well begun is half the job done missive.
Thanks to its outright success not just at the Le Mans 24 Hours but also in the World Endurance Championship, Audi right now has eclipsed such greats as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Bentley and Jaguar in the list of those who have stamped their authority at Le Mans and it lies just behind Porsche who has the maximum number of outright wins at the Sarthe circuit. The idea of using racing success and the technology therein to filter down to everyday use is a time-tested avenue but in the case of Audi, it has done much more in a period when no one thought motor racing could yet deliver meaningful lessons.