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Audi R8 V10 LMX (2014) review

Audi R8 LMX

The first supercar I ever drove was an Audi R8. It was the V10 version, with an open-gate manual ’box like a Ferrari.

The venue was Millbrook in Bedfordshire, a motor industry test-track with an ‘Alpine route’ that replicates an incredible mountain road. Writing for Which? at the time, I was more accustomed to testing family hatchbacks, so the 550hp Audi fairly blew me away.

The marshals at Millbrook were less impressed: I was shown a yellow flag and ordered to slow down or go home.

Audi R8 LMX

Today, I’m revisiting the first-generation R8, albeit in 570hp LMX spec. This special edition was the car’s last hurrah before the current R8 debuted in 2015. The ‘LM’ refers to Le Mans, the 24-hour race where it was launched. And the ‘X’… well, nobody seems sure about that.

This is the original press car – number 23 of 99 made, most painted Ara Blue – now enjoying a gentle retirement as part of Audi UK’s heritage fleet.

The USP of the LMX was its laser headlights. Audi wasn’t first with the technology (BMW beat it by a matter of weeks), but this was still groundbreaking stuff. With high-beam activated, pure white light illuminates the road for 600 metres: around twice the range of LED headlights.

A camera also detects traffic and dips the lights automatically to avoid laser surgery for oncoming eyeballs.

Audi R8 LMX

The Dr Evil lasers were partly why the LMX cost £160,025 when new – a hefty £35,000 more than the range-topping R8 V10 Plus. It also boasted a carbon fibre front splitter and fixed rear wing, that extra 20hp (a token gesture in a car this potent) and came fully loaded with every option available.

These included carbon-ceramic brakes, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and diamond-quilted Alcantara headlining. A stripped-out road racer this ain’t.

Right, full disclosure time. My drive in the R8 took place on a scorching summer afternoon, so I can offer zero feedback on the laser headlights. Suffice to say, journalists at the time seemed a little underwhelmed.

Audi R8 LMX

What certainly isn’t disappointing, however, is that naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10, which rockets the R8 to 62mph in 3.4 seconds and a 198mph top speed. It’s just as raw and responsive as I remembered, a torrent of stomach-squeezing thrust that doesn’t subside until 8,500rpm.

The driving experience is utterly contemporary, too. The Audi has slower steering and softer suspension than some supercars and you occasionally feel its 1,600kg heft in corners.

Nonetheless, there are few quicker ways to cover ground. A planted, predictable chassis and the security of Quattro four-wheel drive mean swift, safe progress where some mid-engined missiles would feel skittish.

Audi R8 LMX

The LMX feels its age inside, with a dot-matrix display between the dials and hopelessly dated sat nav. Frankly, though, I’m struggling to care. Switching to Sport mode, I feel the dampers stiffen, the dual-clutch gearbox kicks down and the exhaust baffles open, filling the cabin with glorious V10 thunder.

As I blast between bends, revelling in copious grunt and grip, I’m quietly thankful there are no flag-waving marshals here. I’m sure they’d confiscate the keys.

As an investment, the LMX is the R8 to have, but with so few made, finding one could be your biggest challenge. At the time of writing, there wasn’t a single example for sale in the UK.

Audi R8 LMX

Fortunately, you don’t need the uber-R8 for driving thrills: the entry-level V8 is just as visceral, almost as fast and available used from just £35,000.

For perhaps the ultimate usable supercar, that’s a bit of a bargain.

PRICE: From £70,000

0-62MPH: 3.4sec

TOP SPEED: 198mph

CO2 G/KM: 299

MPG COMBINED: 21.9

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Audi TT Quattro Sport

Modern classic Audis driven: a Retro Road Test special

Audi TT Quattro Sport

Audi made some of Europe’s most glamorous cars in the 1930s, but faltered in the post-war years and merged with Volkswagen in 1964.

The models that followed were, in some cases, simply rebadged VWs, which left Audi with a middle-of-the road image, lacking the sporting pedigree of BMW or upmarket kudos of Mercedes-Benz.

What a difference a few decades makes. Today, Audi is one of motoring’s most-wanted marques, its cars both exceedingly popular and emphatically premium.

So, what’s changed? There’s been some clever brand-building, for sure, but the roots of Audi’s renaissance lie in its products.

We cherry-picked four modern classic Audis from the company’s fantastic heritage fleet: the TT Quattro Sport, R8 LMX, Cabriolet and A1 Quattro. Each one is a significant part of the recent Audi story, yet all are decidedly different. Here’s why they matter.

Audi TT Quattro Sport

Audi TT Quattro Sport

“Fire up the… oh, hang on.” This isn’t that red Quattro, but it’s very nearly as cool. The limited-edition Quattro Sport was the last hurrah for the Mk1 TT. Now a sought-after cult classic, just 800 were sold in the UK.

This first TT is still a fabulous piece of design: a rare example of a production car looking better than the concept. Launched in 2005, the Quattro Sport has an S Line bodykit, contrasting black roof, black tailpipes, bespoke 18-inch alloys and red brake calipers.

Inside, Alcantara swathes the steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake, hard-shell Recaros were optional and the – virtually useless – rear seats were binned, replaced by a strut brace and luggage net. The total weight saving is 49kg.

There’s more power, too: the familiar 1.8-litre turbocharged engine gains 15hp for 240hp in total. Driving all four wheels via a six-speed manual ’box, it hits 62mph in a swift 5.9 seconds – 0.3sec quicker than the flagship TT 3.2 V6. Stiffer S line supension and a relocated battery (now in the boot) sharpen up the chassis.

On the road, the Quattro Sport is agile and engaging, with lively steering, a snappy gearshift and confidence-inspiring brakes. It feels more akin to one of today’s 4WD hot hatches than a traditional rear-drive sports car, offering formidable point-and-squirt pace.

Ultimately, a Porsche Cayman delivers a purer driving experience, but the Audi is rarer and feels more exotic. Be quick, though: the Quattro Sport is the most desirable Mk1 TT and values are on the up. Expect to pay £6,000 for a high-miler, rising to around £15,000 for the best of the breed.

Audi R8 LMXAudi R8 LMX

The 2006 R8 was Audi’s answer to the Porsche 911 and, in 550hp V10 guise, arguably Ingolstadt’s first supercar. This R8 is one of the crown jewels of Audi UK’s heritage fleet: a 570hp R8 LMX – number 23 of 99 made.

Like the TT Quattro Sport, the 2015 LMX is a run-out special edition. Costing a hefty £160,025 when new, it came with every virtually option available, including carbon-ceramic brakes, Bang and Olufsen audio and quilted Alcantara headlining. Most were painted Ara Blue, with a front splitter and fixed rear wing in bare carbon fibre.

The LMX also boasted ground-breaking new laser headlights – the first production car to offer this technology as standard. They deliver searing white light and a 600-metre range on high beam: around twice that of LED lamps. A camera system dips the lights automatically when it detects oncoming cars.

Our test-drive was conducted in glorious sunshine, so the LMX’s lasers were somewhat redundant. Fortunately, I made full use of its snarling, naturally-aspirated V10.

Audi R8 LMX

Revving to 8,500rpm, this remains one of the great modern engines: fantastically responsive and brutally rapid (0-62mph in 3.4sec and 198mph). My only wish was for an open-gate manual gearbox, instead of the paddleshift auto fitted here.

The R8 has already joined the super-sports establishment, and the achingly desirable LMX is the original car at its zenith. Finding one will be a challenge, but the good news is that V8-engined R8s now start from £30,000. That’s a seriously special car for the price of a Golf GTI. Tempted?

Audi CabrioletAudi Cabriolet

Discussing the Audi Cabriolet without mentioning Princess Diana is like talking about the Reliant Scimitar without mentioning Princess Anne. It simply can’t be done.

Diana’s decision to drive a German car was controversial at the time (what was wrong with a Rover 800?), but it gave the Cabriolet a huge boost. In 1994, sales nearly doubled after Diana was repeatedly photographed by the paparazzi, sometimes with the roof down and the young princes in the back.

Inadvertently, she thrust Audi into public consciousness, and helped build the aspirational, upmarket brand we know today.

Many of the cars on Audi’s 50-strong heritage fleet are scarcely run-in, but this 1995 Cabriolet has 152,000 miles under its wheels. Thankfully, it still feels rock-solid: clichéd ‘Teutonic build quality’ present and correct – even if Milton Keynes’ many roundabouts reveal some chassis-flex when cornering.

Indeed, despite its 150hp 2.6-litre V6, the Audi doesn’t like to be rushed. Throttle response is wooly, the steering feels vague and 0-62mph takes a leisurely 10.2 seconds. 

Audi Cabriolet

Better to retract the electric hood, recline the supportive seat and bask in the admiration of onlookers. Two decades on, this is still a great-looking car.

More than simply a footnote in Audi history, the Cabriolet hasn’t yet graduated to classic status – and that means they’re still very affordable. A good one will cost £2,500, while even the best examples are less than £5,000.

Audi A1 Quattro

Audi A1 Quattro

Coolest alloy wheels ever? The rally-style turbines on the 2012 A1 Quattro are certainly in with a shout. This one-of-333 supermini also packs a 256hp punch, with a manual gearbox and, naturally, Quattro four-wheel drive. Even the 231hp S1, launched in 2015, can’t top that.

The A1 Quattro has its steering wheel on the wrong side and cost a wallet-wilting £41,020 when new. No wonder Audi only sold 19 in the UK. Today, however, such rarity is key to the car’s appeal; only the cognoscenti realise what it is. It’s also the reason that A1 Quattros simply haven’t depreciated. Assuming you can find one, expect to pay near-as-dammit list price.

In terms of oily bits, the uber-A1 is essentially an S3, with a 2.0-litre TFSI engine that delivers 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and 152mph flat-out. Audi ditched the A1’s torsion beam rear suspension for the S3’s four-link axle, making substantial modifications to the floorpan and fitting a new, saddle-style fuel tank.

Standard equipment was comprehensive, including leather trim, sat nav and a Bose audio system.

Audi A1 Quattro

Unsurprisingly, the A1 is fiercely quick across country. A neutral and forgiving chassis, combined with limpet-like grip and Quattro traction, means you can take huge liberties with cornering speeds. The engine is obviously turbocharged (it doesn’t fully wake up until nigh-on 4,000rpm), but there’s much fun to be had in riding that wave of boost. Shame the suspension is too stiff for broken British B-roads.

For most, the S1 is a far better option: cheaper, more comfortable and almost as quick. But the A1 Quattro showed Audi could do limited-run, hardcore hot hatches just as well as parent company Volkswagen. It’s not a rational purchase, but the most interesting cars rarely are.

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2008 Audi R8 Quattro Auction

Proving that you really can live a champagne supercar lifestyle on a prosecco budget, say hello to this 2008 Audi R8.

Listed for sale in the H&H Classic Motor Auction, set to be held behind closed doors at the end of this month, this could be a mid-engined bargain.

With an estimated sale price of between £24,000 and £28,000 before fees, this V8-powered sports car could cost less than a new Audi A3 hatchback.

A bargain both then and now

2008 Audi R8 Quattro Auction

Whilst most people are likely to buy that hypothetical A3 using new car finance, it is still a reminder of just how much car is on offer for the money here. 

Launched in 2006, the first-generation Audi R8 was regarded as something of a bargain given the performance on offer. 

This particular 2008 R8, fitted with the 4.2-litre V8 engine, would have cost the original owner in excess of £77,000 before the temptation of the options list. 

Natural aspiration all the way

2008 Audi R8 Quattro Auction

The naturally aspirated V8 engine in the R8 is a relative of the unit found in the contemporary RS 4 model. Audi changed it to a dry-sump configuration, but the power output of 414 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque remained the same. 

Combined with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, the R8 was capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 187 mph. Certainly quicker than a new A3.

This example comes with the six-speed R-Tronic automated manual transmission. Developed from a Lamborghini unit, it was criticised when new for sometimes being jerky when driven in traffic.

Later models gained a newer seven-speed dual-clutch unit instead. 

Practical modern classic

2008 Audi R8 Quattro Auction

Gearbox aside, there is plenty to like about this R8. The combination of Daytona Grey with a lighter ‘sideblade’ detail looks relatively subtle. A red leather interior adds contrast, along with a hint of supercar dramatics.

Having had three owners from new, this R8 has covered a total of 65,000 miles. That does mean the winning bidder will be able to use their supercar without the guilt of adding more miles. 

A full service history is noted as being present, along with all recall work undertaken. The previous three MOTs were passed without issue, with a rear fog light being the only problem noted in 2017.

Stay at home, still buy a supercar

2008 Audi R8 Quattro Auction

As an alternative to the ubiquitous Porsche 911, the original Audi R8 goes a long way towards the usable everyday sports car. Whilst it may be the previous-generation model, this example is still likely to impress on the road. 

The H&H Classic Motorcar Auction will take place on Wednesday 29th April. To comply with Coronavirus precautions, bids can only be placed by telephone or online.

Other lots listed for sale include a 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 in time-warp condition, along with a 1949 Land Rover Series I, and a breakdown truck first used in the Mersey Tunnel.

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