The new one is faster, more advanced and all the rest. But it’s a slicker product. More Audi. I think the first-gen R8’s design is cleaner and purer too. And you can get it with a manual. A really nice manual, with a stumpy little aluminium lever and an exposed shift gate that goes click-clack-click as you make your way around it. There’s so little drama in the way the new one delivers its incredible performance it’s dangerous, at least in terms of your licence. Being more involved, having to make deliberate choices about gear selection, revs and footwork make going (a little bit) slower a lot more fun. Especially when connected to a gloriously charismatic engine like the 5.2-litre V10.
I was tempted to write about the V8s, which at just over £40K are now temptingly close to affordable. And, I reckon, a solid place to put your money. But for little over £60K you can have a V10, with another 100hp and one of THE great engine notes. This one, in subtle black with carbon ‘blades’, has just over 20,000 miles on the clock and is up for £62K.
A manual Porsche 911 GTS of the same vintage and mileage is knocking on £80K. It’s one of the nicer modern 911s and a safe investment. But the R8 is a proper mid-engined supercar, with a truly magnificent engine at its core and a manual gearbox with which to control it. If you don’t need the 911’s 2+2 seating it looks like an absolute steal in comparison, never mind the fact it’s got 519bhp to the Porsche’s 402bhp. Given that endangered species status, I reckon it’d be a financially safe place to rack up a few miles too. Never mind a glorious one.
Photography courtesy of Pescara Cars