Audi R8 (2006-2007)

Classic Cars (UK) - - Chasing Cars -

Back in 2006 the first-gen Audi R8 re­ally should have been a mas­sive hit – mid-mounted dry sump 414bhp 4.2 V8 32V en­gine, al­loy space­frame and mono­coque, car­bon­fi­bre cra­dle plus 0-60mph in 4.6 sec­onds and 187mph. Vir­tu­ally hand-built at the Nekar­sulm fac­tory and shar­ing the Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardo plat­form, only 28 R8s were made ev­ery day. This was a low-vol­ume al­loy su­per­car with four-wheel drive that was as re­li­able as a Golf. Yet only 164 R8s were sold glob­ally in 2006, 4175 in 2007 and then, thanks to the 2008 re­ces­sion, pro­duc­tion tum­bled to 2101 cars in 2009. The R8’s prob­lem wasn’t only the fi­nan­cial en­vi­ron­ment into which it was born – it was just too clever and cere­bral to catch the mar­ket’s imag­i­na­tion. Audi’s min­i­mal­ist Bauhaus de­sign gram­mar may have been fine for a TT, but for £77k be­fore op­tions, buy­ers wanted some­thing that shouted a lit­tle louder.

In many ways the R8 was too in­vis­i­ble, too quiet and too re­strained. Back in those mid­mil­len­nium glory days buy­ers pre­ferred their su­per­cars to wear pranc­ing horses or bulls on their noses. But for col­lec­tors those early cars aren’t just worth seek­ing out be­cause of their rar­ity – there are only 400-odd 2006-07 R8s in the UK – they look howl­ing value for money. Trade­price­cars in Es­sex has a Sil­ver ’07 with just 25k for £39,750 – or half the price of a very av­er­age Pagoda Merc. A pri­vate seller in Swin­don has a black 2007, also with 25k, for £34,995 and it comes with £12k of fac­tory op­tions and full Audi his­tory. That has to be one of the cheap­est lowmileage su­per­cars you can buy.

De­spite that prodi­gious top end those 4.2 R8s don’t feel prop­erly bal­lis­tic – for that you’ll need the later V10. At 150mph things feel very sta­ble and even ex­plor­ing 180mph ter­ri­tory isn’t that scary. This is a well-planted and se­cure ma­chine with a sub­lime ride. You’ll love the three turns lock to lock hy­draulic steer­ing but avoid the car­bon brake op­tion be­cause they’re too grabby. I’d stick to the con­ven­tional six-speed man­ual be­cause the se­quen­tial R-tronic isn’t as much fun.

As a fu­ture clas­sic a 2006/07 UK rhd R8 could be a clever buy. They’re rare, re­spected, exclusive and tech­no­log­i­cally awe­some. Find one of the very few 2006 launch-year ex­am­ples and you’ll have some­thing that’s al­ready col­lectible. What’s more it’s a gen­uine su­per­car that doesn’t make you suf­fer to own and en­joy.

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