Features

When Audi first humbled Porsche – evo Archive

In 2007, the R8 definitely, absolutely beat a 911 at the first time of asking. But had we made the right call?

When Audi first humbled Porsche

I can still remember the cross- examination I got. We used to have these big storage heaters at either end of evo’s old Tower Court office; lovely to perch atop and warm your bum on on a winter’s morning. And Jethro Bovingdon was doing just that while reading the proofs of issue 106’s cover story: ‘New Order’. Peter Tomalin and Ian Eveleigh love a music reference.

It was the brand new Audi R8’s first group test and the car from Ingolstadt had won, beating the BMW M6 (E63), Aston Martin Vantage (with Prodrive upgrades) and Porsche 911 (a 997 Carrera 4S). This went against all received wisdom because at the time the joke in the office was that a BMW won any group test unless there was also a Porsche in the mix, in which case Stuttgart trumped Munich.

David Vivian had deployed his inimitable brand of weapons-grade writing on the 18-page feature, but as a freelancer he wasn’t in the office to answer questions come deadline. John Hayman was also on the test, but was also freelance. Andy Morgan had taken the fabulous photos (on film! I remember he had a new tilt-shift lens for some of the details) and driven the cars but was out on another shoot. Having celebrated my insurance-critical 25th birthday months earlier I had been allowed to go on the test in southern France and was therefore the most senior office-based person available for Jethro to quiz.

> Audi R8 review – verdict, specs and prices

I was certain the right result had been reached, but I was also very aware that it was a huge call to make. evo wasn’t the sort of magazine to be wowed for the sake of it by the latest new thing and I feared Jethro thought that’s what might have occurred. Had he been wearing a wig and I a suit in a court of law I don’t think I’d have felt more nervous. Yes, the B7 RS4 had recently given the E46 M3 a run for its money, but this was a different magnitude. ‘Audi humbles Porsche’ was the sensational penultimate sentence of the feature.

I explained to Jethro (I stopped short of calling him Your Honour) as best I could that the R8 really was that good, but I’m sure he wasn’t entirely convinced. The line that stood out for me in Vivian’s piece was when he said that compared to the others, driving the R8 was ‘like being given a glass of sparkling Perrier after years of drinking ditch water’. It somehow captured the feeling perfectly.

What’s more, the R8 backed up its on-road performance with a sensational time around Bedford Autodrome’s West Circuit. It posted the tenth quickest time we’d ever recorded, beating a GT3 by over a second and lagging just eight-tenths behind an Enzo. I think Jethro also interrogated Dickie about how much kerb he had taken through Pif-Paf…

Thankfully, 12 years later, an early V8 R8 with a manual ’box remains a truly wonderful thing and the result of that test feels entirely justified. In many ways, even though the R8 has evolved considerably, that first stab has never been bettered. I know for a fact that Jethro, like the rest of us, keeps a keen eye on their prices in the classifieds… 

Recommended

Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 review – the full-time follow up to the RWS
Audi R8

Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 review – the full-time follow up to the RWS

Entry-level R8 is rear-drive and a bit lighter, but ultimately proves no sportier or more engaging than the quattro V10
24 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival
Triumph Lynx
Features

Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival

With a 3.5-litre Rover V8 under the bonnet and TR7 fastback styling, the Lynx could have been British Leyland’s answer to the Ford Capri
18 Jun 2021
New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring – rear profile
Porsche 911 GT3

New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK

The Touring pack has returned, combining the 992 GT3’s set-up with more understated looks
15 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
17 Jun 2021
The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive
evo archive – LaFerrari truck extraction – stop!
Ferrari

The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive

How do you get a £1million hypercar out of the back of a delivery truck? Very, very, slowly…
15 Jun 2021
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – front quarter
BMW 7 Series

Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models

All-new saloon to feature IC and EV powertrains, but once again it’ll also lead the way aesthetically
16 Jun 2021
MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
Hyundai i20 N revealed – Ford Fiesta ST rival priced from £24,995
Hyundai i20 N car pictures
Hyundai i20 hatchback

Hyundai i20 N revealed – Ford Fiesta ST rival priced from £24,995

N division's second model set to shake up the junior hot hatch establishment
17 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – header
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
16 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
2022 Polestar 3 teased – all-new Audi e-tron rival a stepchange model
Polestar 3
Polestar

2022 Polestar 3 teased – all-new Audi e-tron rival a stepchange model

Yes, it’s another electric SUV, but this one will be the first ‘true’ Polestar
17 Jun 2021
GTO Engineering Squalo interior sketches revealed – new-build Ferrari 250 GTO hommage draws closer
GTO Engineering interior
Ferrari

GTO Engineering Squalo interior sketches revealed – new-build Ferrari 250 GTO hommage draws closer

New details, including the interior, have been revealed about the GTO Engineering Squalo
15 Jun 2021