When enthusiasts talk about the original Audi R8, they often wax lyrical about its naturally-aspirated engines, hydraulic steering and slick-shifting, open-gate, six-speed manual transmission. However, they seldom talk about its power and performance and that’s because, compared to even much lesser modern sports cars, the R8 isn’t exactly a top-performer anymore. In this test from Autocar, though, we learn why that doesn’t matter.
In this test, the original Audi R8 V8 takes on a brand-new Volkswagen Golf R, a car that’s significantly cheaper than the R8 was new (though, it’s not too far off an old, used one).
The Volkswagen Golf R is an incredible car; it’s fast, fun to drive, surprisingly practical, all-weather capable and relatively affordable. However, it doesn’t feel special. It doesn’t thrill in the way that a proper sports car will. When you compare it to the original R8, sure the Golf R is just as fast but it lacks the passion, the thrill, the experience of driving a mid-engine V8, all-wheel drive sports car.
Not only does the Audi R8 feel far more special and exciting than the Golf R but it feels more special and exciting than some enthusiasts remember. Back when it was new, the original R8 was never really considered as good of a supercar as something like a Porsche 911 GT3 or Ferrari F430. However, after looking back at it, it does feel that special. Its hydraulic steering is wonderful and its suspension tuning is lovely. It’s a genuinely incredible car to drive.
The best part about the old Audi R8 V8 is the fact that it’s affordable now. You can get used examples for not much more than a brand-new Golf R will set you back and, if you appreciate the act of actually driving a vehicle, it’s well worth the small premium.