Is the Audi R8 the best affordable supercar?
The words cheap and supercar are seldom uttered in the same breath but as examples such as the Audi R8 – which was made in generous numbers and labelled as entry-level – approach and surpass the 10-year mark, their values drop and bring a previously unattainable level of performance within reach of larger portions of the population.
With the idea of an affordable supercar comes the question of practicality and usability. For some in that newly unlocked pay bracket, a cheap supercar will be less of a secondary weekend driver and more of a daily, meaning it will need to be easy to live with as well as provide that pulse-raising experience we’re all searching for.
A car that covers those criteria is Audi’s ultra-popular supercar, the Audi R8. The R8 has made use of an age-old recipe – borrowing parts from a fellow Volkswagen AG subsidiary – utilising its connections through a parent company to the fullest.
The old guard
Friends in high places
The 2006-2015 models offered a thunderous V8 engine and an even more monstrous 5.2-litre V10 option for those who could afford it. That engine is of course borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo – albeit slightly down on power – outputting 525bhp. Couple that with the usual four-wheel drive system to enhance handling and you have a superb all-rounder for the price point.
Regardless of which model you opt for, the interior is spacious, well-equipped and has the premium feel you’d expect from a car of this calibre. Transmission was very much a talking point for the R8, with the gated manual being less popular initially (but now becoming more desirable) and the performance difference between R-Tronic and S-Tronic proving to be a point of contention.
Despite it being a less exotic alternative to a Ferrari for example, it feels no less special behind the wheel. An unintentional benefit of the R8 being slightly further down the food chain is that there is less to go wrong from a technical perspective and therefore maintenance costs are greatly reduced.
For a pristine, lower mileage example like the 2012 V10 Coupe, 2011 V8 Spyder and 2010 V10 Spyder at PaddlUp, you’re still looking at £50,000 and above. If you’re willing to dip into the first generation R8s – the 2007 and 2008 iterations – then prices can reach as low as £30,000, roughly comparable to prices of a new standard edition TT.
With that in mind, it is probably fair to say that the Audi R8 has an ineluctable pedigree sharing many significant components, including an engine, with a highly regarded supercar in the form of the Gallardo. It’s arguably as usable as a supercar can be in everyday life and it comes with a much-reduced price tag if you’re not adverse to the slightly older models. We’d say those are all pretty big ticks in the boxes for 'best affordable supercar'.