I’ve discussed the original Audi R8 and why it was such an important car for the brand ad nauseam. Back in 2008, the original R8 hit the silver screen in the trailer for Iron Man, proving that not only could Audi make a high-end supercar but one worthy of starring in a massive blockbuster movie. Its presence on screen, along with stunning good looks, brought people into dealerships just to see it and then eventually buy something cheaper because they wanted to be part of the same brand that made Tony Stark’s car. That’s the job of a halo car and the Audi R8 did it perfectly, in my humble opinion. But don’t just take it from me — Doug DeMuro’s latest video explains why the R8 was the perfect halo car.
Prior to the R8, Audi was known for making sensible, and sometime fast, sedans and wagons. It wasn’t exactly considered a builder sports cars, or especially supercars. The original Audi R8 changed that image and did so quickly.
Why was the Audi R8 so successful? For a couple of reasons, as Doug DeMuro explains. However, one of the reasons was that the R8’s release was timed perfectly with the release of several other new Audis. Audi planned this years in advance and launched the R8 at around the same time as the original Q7, Q5, A4, and — more specifically — the Audi A5/S5. Those additional models bolstered the R8’s arrival by giving customers other cars to get excited about, as most Audi customers couldn’t afford a six-figure, two-seat supercar. But they could afford those other cars. So Audi brought them into dealerships with the R8 but then also got them excited about other, less expensive, more realistic cars.
Going one step further, Audi also used some of the R8’s incredibly exciting (at the time) design elements and trickled them down to its less expensive models. For instance, the gorgeous strip of LEDs underneath the R8’s headlights made its way to even normal cars, like the B8 Audi A4 and Q7. Also, the R8’s impressive new MMI system was given to every other Audi. So not only were customers seeing new, exciting cars from the same brand that made the R8, but they could actually see and feel the familial resemblance.
DeMuro also mentions a few other halo cars, from other brands, that failed because of their lack of supporting casts. For instance, the Lexus LFA, the Acura NSX, and the Nissan GT-R were all incredible performance machines and brilliant automotive achievements, yet all lacked the supporting cast to truly be affective halo cars. You can have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback but if his supporting cast isn’t any good, you aren’t winning any Super Bowls.
Audi’s stroke of genius in the mid-to-late 2000s helped the four-ringed brand tripe its sales figures in America in just a decade. That doesn’t happen without the Audi R8 but, more importantly, it doesn’t happen without a good supporting cast.