Audi A1 Citycarver: where is the urban jungle exactly?

Audi A1 Citycarver urban jungle

Audi says the A1 Citycarver is a car ‘for the urban jungle’. Not knowing where the urban jungle is, I Googled it, only to discover that it’s a garden centre and cafe near Norwich. And you thought the Honda Jazz was the choice of transport for garden centre enthusiasts.

I’m not entirely sure a jacked-up supermini dressed up to look like Baymax in armour is required for a trip along the A11, but Audi has a habit of discovering niches and filling them.

I jest. The Audi A1 Citycarver is actually a Rover Streetwise for people too young to remember the Rover Streetwise. You weren’t aware that you needed an Audi Streetwise, but the marketing commandos will be deployed to ensure you spend every waking hour wondering how you coped without one.

Citycarver? Depending on your age, you’re either thinking of a detective chief inspector from The Bill, or a media mogul from Tomorrow Never Dies. Or maybe you’re thinking it sounds like the name given to an unsavoury character on Crimewatch.

But don’t have nightmares, because the A1 Citycarver is little more than a city-friendly Audi A1 with 4cm of additional ground clearance, body cladding to make it look like an A1 Allroad, and front-wheel-drive to ensure that it’s not.

Audi A1 Citycarver

It costs from £22,040, which isn’t a lot for an Audi, but by the time you’ve added a few choice options and accessories, you’ll be knocking on the door of £30,000, which is a lot for a supermini. Even one with an Audi badge.

All of which is beginning to sound like the Audi A1 Citycarver gives me an irrational desire to throw a hot cake at the wall and mutter something about the days before Audi became as popular as a Kylie Jenner Instagram post.

But I’m feeling quite calm about the Jim Carver. I have a feeling it could steal sales from the Audi Q2, which could be the best thing to happen to our roads since the Romans brought a 12-inch ruler to these shores.

Carvery menu

Some people spend close to £40,000 on a Q2, which is a staggering amount of cash for a compact crossover. Let that sink in for a moment – £40k on a small crossover. There’s just something so unimaginative about buying a Q2. Why not spend £18,000 on the marginally less attractive Ford Ecosport and treat the kids to a good holiday?

An Elliot Carver costs £680 less than the Q2 and is only slightly smaller. You have to sacrifice 70 litres of boot space, but that seems like a small penalty when you consider the level of standard equipment.

Audi A1 Citycarver interior

LED headlights, LED rear lights , dynamic rear indicators, a 10.25 digital cockpit and 17-inch alloy wheels are must-have toys for the Audi driver, and they’re all fitted as standard.

The basic Q2 has to make do with halogen headlights, which, to your image-obsessed colleagues, will be a signal that you’ve given up on life. If you want LED lights and dynamic indicators, you’ll need to spend at least £26,370 on the Q2 S line.

If you’re after 17-inch alloys and the digital cockpit, you’ll require the Q2 Sport (£24,120), plus the optional Tech Pack (£1,495).

Audi says the A1 Citycarver is available with two engines, but its UK website is showing one. It’s a 30 TFSI, which sounds exciting, but you’ll need access to an Enigma machine to work out what it is.

What is clear is that the Citycarver will sell like pumpkins at Halloween. You may not want one, but I bet you know of at least a dozen people who would. A Honda Jazz remains a superior car for a trip to the Urban Jungle garden centre cafe, mind. Anyone for a slice of carrot cake?

RS power: 25 years of fast Audis

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s RS-badged beasts have been roaming the autobahns and chasing down M cars since 1994. That’s 25 years of blistered arches, scowling snouts and bulbous bottoms, with a high-power wail of a soundtrack. We break down the history of the modern fast Audi.

1994 Audi RS 2

25 years of Audi RS

With the help of Porsche, Audi brought its first RS-badged performance estate to the market, and the fast car world was changed forever. While 315hp from its 2.2-litre five-cylinder engine is modest by today’s standards, in 1994 the RS 2 was an angry ripsnorter of a thing.

2000 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

The original RS 4 picked up where the RS 2 left off, and established how Audi’s RS cars would be tiered. Its 2.7-litre turbocharged V6 delivered a mighty 380hp – enough for the RS 4 to stand toe-to-toe with BMW’s M5, let alone the M3. Unlike the RS 2, the RS 4 was also available as a saloon.

2002 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

The RS 6 has been a giantkiller since it was introduced. Packing 450hp in standard form from its twin-turbo V8, and 480hp in RS 6+ form, this thing could munch M5s on the way to nibbling at the heels of supercars. It was also available as a saloon.

2005 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

But what fast Audis had yet to do, since the introduction of the RS 2, was deliver when it came to handling. Grip? They had bags of it. Balance? Not so much. Nose-heavy Audi RS cars loved to push. The RS 4 changed all that, delivering a balletic handling balance to go with that super-sweet singing 420hp 4.2-litre V8. In terms of styling, the RS 4 enhanced the steroidal RS look, and it was also the first appearance of the grille. The RS 4 was available as a saloon, Avant and a cabriolet.

2008 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

The next RS 6 reverted to old habits. Big power – 580hp courtesy of a twin-turbo 5.2-litre V10, and brutally unsatisfying dynamics. It’ll obliterate most contemporary rivals point to point, but it’ll do so without delivering any feeling of satisfaction for the driver. It’ll easily push into understeer if you get too eager, too. Audi’s reputation for inconsistency was born with the second-generation RS 6, but lordy did it jelly your knees to look at. Yours in saloon or Avant format.

2009 Audi TT RS

25 years of Audi RS

A car we’d seemingly been waiting forever for – an RS version of the TT. The TT RS came along with looks to kill and an engine that thrilled. 2.5-litres of turbocharged five-cylinder power was a delight, but the warble was a distraction from a slightly underwhelming drive. Our advice? Get the roadster, to be closer to the sound.

2010 Audi RS 5

25 years of Audi RS

The RS 5 was no M3 fighter when it came to dynamics, but you’d arguably take it on looks alone. The Cabriolet was the ultimate riviera cruiser.

2011 Audi RS 3

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s first hyper hatch picked up where the TT left off – five-pot power and a slightly disappointing drive. The engine is one of the modern greats though, and it survives to this day in current and future hot Audis. Praise be.

2012 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

In 2012, the mighty RS 4 made a return in wagon form only. It wasn’t quite as much of a standard-setter as its predecessor, but it was properly stylish. One thing Audi’s RS division has always nailed is style, never more so than with the B8 RS 4.

2013 Audi RS Q3

25 years of Audi RS

Then Audi changed the game, with an RS-powered crossover. Q3, the unassuming family mini SUV that it was, got swollen vents, a big oval exhaust and fabulous five-pot power. It even drove better than the RS 3 hatch.

2013 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

With the 2013 RS 6, Audi got its mojo back. By far the best RS since 2005’s RS 4, this RS 6 downsized back to a twin-turbo V8, displacing four litres. It was also down on power, with 560hp, but was such a sweet drive. It was arguable the best-looking RS yet made, too. You’ll note, too, that this was the second RS car from Audi in 2013. With these two, Audi had begun its mission to deliver more RS to a power-hungry market.

2013 Audi RS 7

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s late-in-the-game answer to the AMG-powered Mercedes CLS was, like its RS 6 counterpart, an absolute rocket, but it lacked the versatility of its esteemed sibling. It replaced the option of an RS 6 saloon.

2015 Audi RS 3

25 years of Audi RS

In 2015, the RS 3 came of age. With the 2.5-litre turbo five cylinder and 360hp, the new RS 3 had the charming powerplant, but it now had a chassis with half a hope of complimenting it. It also looked absolutely spectacular, though it hadn’t reached the height of its aesthetic powers yet.

2016 Audi TT RS

25 years of Audi RS

With near-on 400hp, the TT RS, in coupe and roadster form, is a proper little supercar slayer. First-generation R8? Not a problem. Audi RS, as always, can keep supercars honest.

2017 Audi RS 3 Saloon

25 years of Audi RS

And now, one of the best-looking modern RS Audis. In fact, as of its release, the RS 3 saloon became the only RS 3 to have, in our opinion.

2017 Audi RS 5

25 years of Audi RS

While the last RS 5 was a bit of a posey beauty, this new one seems a bit more capable. The turbocharged V6 engine isn’t the heartthrob the old V8 was, but it’s devastatingly effective. It’s still a beauty, too.

2017 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

As the new RS 4, which has the same powerplant, and has, in fact, just received a very slick facelift. It represents the definition of the ultimate daily, with its new versatile V6, by comparison to the fragile revvy old V8.

2018 Audi RS 5 Sportback

25 years of Audi RS

If the RS 4 is a bit too utilitarian for you, but the RS 5 coupe isn’t practical enough, Audi has the solution. Meet, for the first time, the RS 5 Sportback. Four doors, RS 5 styling, and a practical hatch. It’s almost a no-brainer.

2019 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

Now then, the new generation of Audi RS is here. Mild-hybrid tech, four-wheel steering, and a new generation of ultra-sharp looks. Would it be an Audi RS if it wasn’t the best looking performance car in its segment?

2019 Audi RS 7

25 years of Audi RS

Yet again, there is a less practical and more expensive flavour, in the form of the RS 7. Note that the 6 has borrowed the 7’s sharper snout.

2019 Audi RS Q3

25 years of Audi RS

Finally, the latest version of the car that brought into question what should and shouldn’t get the Audi ‘RS’ treatment. The new one is available in both normal and ‘Sportback’ form. Praise be, though, the five-cylinder has survived. We look forward to the next RS 3…

2020 RS Q8

25 years of Audi RS

Speaking of which, the RS SUV train isn’t stopping any time soon. If commonly-spotted prototypes are any indication, an RS version of the Q8 is next on the docket for 2020.

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic 2019 review

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)When car manufacturers spend big on a mid-life facelift, you know the original model was a disappointment. The current-generation Audi A4, launched in 2016, was an able but forgettable car. Its styling predated the arrival of new design boss Marc Lichte, and proved why his new ideas were so necessary.

Four years on, hundreds of millions of pounds has been invested in rejuvenating the A4. Every body panels apart from the roof, bonnet and bootlid is new, the already-lovely interior has been further improved, and a revised engine line-up is greener yet faster.

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

You won’t miss it. The front end is more aggressive and the body sides now have distinct wheelarch creases front and rear – modelled on the original Audi Quattro, says Lichte. Inside, a massive 10.1-inch touchscreen dominates the centre, and every variant gets a new, improved Audi Virtual Cockpit digital cluster.

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

Equipment levels are standout, actually. The latest MMI Touch infotainment system (which gives a loud haptic ‘click’ as you touch it) has standard sat nav and reversing camera. Front seats are heated. There are full LED headlights and tail lights, auto-dim folding door mirrors and three-zone climate control. For fleet drivers not allowed to choose options other than metallic paint, the new Technik entry grade will be a dream.

There are seven different turbocharged engines, three petrol and four diesel (the top-spec S4 is now a TDI diesel). Most buyers now choose petrol, with the 35 TFSI being the best-seller. Nearly every A4 comes with an S tronic automatic – sensible, as it has a clever free-wheeling facility that saves fuel when cruising (thanks to standard mild hybrid tech, the engine can even shut down entirely when on the move).

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

Audi engine designation badges now refer to power ranges. There is method in the apparent madness, but that’s too involved to go into here. What you need to know is that the 35 TFSI is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with 150 hp. And it’s basically a detuned VW Golf GTI engine, one down on horsepower, but not pulling power: 199 lb ft of torque means it’s not short on muscle. 

Keep away from the 19-inch wheels of S line variants and above, and it emits less than 130 g/km CO2, and averages over 42 mpg. It performs impeccably, too. Volkswagen Group is making some fine petrol engines right now, and this is one of them. Refined, linear, responsive and effortless, it also makes a nice cammy grown when revved without ever becoming loud or intrusive.

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

The 7-speed automatic is also smooth, which gives even this entry-level A4 a cut-above feel on the road. Only if you stare at the rev counter will you notice the engine speed dropping to idle, then the green stop-start symbol indicating it’s shut down; that’s a measure of how quietly it cruises, and how smooth the engine cuts back in again.

My test car had a nice, cushioned ride quality. It wafted across B-roads but never became unruly in corners. Checking the spec sheet later revealed why: it had optional adaptive suspension, which only buyers of the Vorsprung variant will be able to option on UK cars. I’m sure the regular car has a fine ride, but it won’t be as good as this (and even here, the tyres at times picked up a bit of surface harshness).

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

The A4 corners safely and accurately. True to form, it’s a bit forgettable. If you want driving engagement, go for a BMW 3 Series. What the A4 does really well is feel secure and stable, with precise, planted steering and a quality feel of impenetrability. Firm, supportive seats, good visibility and exceptional noise isolation reinforce this. It’s a high-mileage driver’s dream.

Verdict: Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S Tronic

Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S tronic (2019)

The new BMW 3 Series is a formidable rival. It looks distinctive and it’s superb to drive. But the latest Audi A4 is a much-improved alternative with punchier looks, some impressive engines and class-leading levels of standard equipment. It may not excite, but it will satisfy you better than ever. And certainly no longer disappoint.

Facts: Audi A4 35 TFSI Sport S Tronic

Price: £33,975 (August 2019)

Engine: 2.0-litre TFSI

Power: 150 hp

Torque: 199 lb ft

0-62 mph: 8.9 seconds

Top speed: 140 mph

Average economy: 42.2 mpg

CO2: 127 g/km

Length / width / height: 4762 / 1847 / 1431 mm

Boot capacity: 460 litres

Your next Audi could be an electric scooter

Your next Audi could be an electric scooter

Audi’s e-tron Scooter concept is part e-scooter, part skateboard and 100 percent electric, and it’s coming to a street near you in 2020.

Designed to be transported by car, bus or train, the e-tron Scooter weighs 12kg and its handling is “like surfing waves”, says Audi. Makes a change from Mini’s claims about ‘go-kart’ handling… 

Interestingly, Audi says that the electric scooter could be offered to customers who buy regular e-tron models, with charging possible via a dedicated socket in the boot. It’s a like a modern-day equivalent of the Honda City/Motocompo partnership.

‘On the move in cities’

“With the Audi e-tron Scooter, we appeal to customers who are on the move in cities, sustainably and multi-modally – and for whom style and functionality are important,” said Thorsten Schrader, project manager for micro-mobility at Audi.

“Although riders keep one hand on the handlebar, they control the scooter like a skateboard with their feet by shifting their weight. The movable axles with four wheels allow unusually tight curves. Of course the e-tron Scooter also moves straight ahead. But the feeling of flow only comes when you start carving on asphalt – and that is surprisingly easy with our new concept.”

Audi e-tron Scooter concept

The e-tron Scooter features a display showing the battery status, with riders accelerating and braking by means of a shift grip. A range of 12.5 miles is achieved through recuperation when the electric scooter brakes, which should be enough for the morning commute or the trip to the station.

With one hand free the rider is able to look around and give hand signals, which could come in handy as more of these urban mobility solutions hit the streets.

Top speed is 12.5mph – possibly more if you’re brave enough going downhill – while the headlight, daytime running light, rear light and brake light are all LED. The deck can be configured in wood or carbon.

Production and sales are scheduled for late 2020, with a price tag likely to be in the region of €2,000 (£1,845). Form an orderly queue.

Read more: 

Audi e-tron now open for orders

Captain Marvel meets the Audi e-tron

Electric car sales TRIPLE in July 2019

ABT turns Audi RS3 into a 470hp Porsche-chaser

ABT Audi RS3

German tuning house ABT has turned its wizardry to Audi’s warbling RS3. The result is a 470hp five-cylinder hot hatch that can nip at the rears of a new Porsche 911.

Contrast to the original S3, which debuted 20 years ago with a heady 210hp, the current RS3 near-on doubles the original fast Audi hatch’s muscle, with 400hp. Now ABT is taking it to near-supercar power levels with a performance upgrade to 470hp.

ABT Audi RS3

The ABT Power S performance package adds a new intercooler and ABT’s high-tech Engine Control unit. Along with the power upgrade, torque is up from an already mighty 346lb-ft, to near-on 400lb-ft.

The standard Audi RS3 gets to 62mph in close to four seconds flat, so this ABT version should be even more potent. Top speed is up from the limited 155mph to 177mph.

ABT Audi RS3

Although the sleeper factor is fun, if you want people to know that your RS3 is packing a bit more muscle, there is a selection of visual upgrades available.

New wheels, which can lop up to 32kg of unsprung mass out of the car, ABT badging, vents and a quad-tipped stainless steel exhaust system are available.

ABT Audi RS3

Carbon and leather interior bits are also available, so you never forget your RS3 is just that bit more special.

The wizards at ABT have a history of tuning and racing Audis, and tarting up many different cars from the Volkswagen Group. They’ll spruce up everything from your Skoda, to your Vokswagen, through to your Seat and, of course, your Audi.

Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid offers 26-mile electric range

Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

If you’re not ready to take the plunge on a EV, but fancy completing your commute on electric power, the new Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid will be of interest.

The Audi Q5 55 TFSI e – to give the SUV it’s long and convoluted name – pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver 26 miles of range.

Useful for zero-emissions zones, then, but the Q5 plug-in hybrid can also hit 84mph in electric mode, plus a top speed of 148mph with help from the 252hp and 273lb ft petrol engine.

113mpg and 49g/km CO2

Audi Q5 55 TFSI E

Crucially, the WLTP-certified economy is 113mpg, corresponding to CO2 emissions of 49g/km: the figures of most interest to plug-in hybrid (PHEV) buyers.

It’s the first time that Audi’s efficiency-optimised Quattro all-wheel-drive tech has been used in combination with an electric motor, with the system functioning in front-wheel drive when possible to save fuel.

A predictive efficiency assistant (PEA) uses data from the navigation database and the distance to the vehicle ahead to select between freewheeling with the engine switched off and coasting recuperation.

There are three driving modes – Hybrid, EV and Battery Hold – with EV mode the default setting each time the vehicle is started.

Deliveries by the end of 2019

Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid socket

The Q5 plug-in hybrid is supplied with a compact charging system comprising cables for household and industrial outlets, plus a control unit. There’s also a Mode 3 cable with a Type 2 plug for use at public charging stations.

Standard kit includes LED headlights with high-beam assist, 20-inch alloy wheels, electric adjustable sports seats with massage function, three-zone climate control and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit dashboard display.

Customers can order an Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid in June, with deliveries expected by the end of the year. Prices will start from around £55,000.

Electric Audi E-Tron SUV joins London taxi fleet

Audi E-Tron Addison Lee

Taxi company Addison Lee is adding five all-electric Audi E-Tron SUVs to its fleet from today, as part of a six-month trial in London.

The cars will join Addison Lee’s existing, fully-ULEZ-compliant fleet. Both Audi and Addison Lee have invested heavily in future mobility, including zero-emissions and autonomous driving tech.

Carrying passengers, gathering data

Audi E-Tron Addison Lee

The trial allows Addison Lee to acquire data about the viability of electric cars. The plus side for Audi, and indeed the electric car cause as a whole, is that it will expose a wide variety of people to EVs, specifically the E-Tron.

“Our partnership with Audi combines two premium brands in making a significant step towards next-generation, sustainable mobility solutions, and continues to position Addison Lee Group at the forefront of innovation in ground transportation services,” said Andy Boland, CEO of Addison Lee.

‘Ideally suited to chauffeuring duties’

Audi E-Tron Addison Lee

As for the cars themselves, they’re in a classic Addison Lee spec – that’s black, black and more black. In the E-Tron’s case, Mythos Black, with acoustic privacy glass, soft-closing doors and four-zone climate control. All with a view to delivering ‘the most luxurious experience for passengers, with a host of touches that optimise comfort and convenience’.

The E-Tron is well equipped for taxi duties from the off. Audi cites its ‘class-leading luggage capacity and capacious rear legroom’, too.

Audi Addison Lee

“The E-tron is the perfect catalyst for the transition into electrification for a global ground transportation business like Addison Lee Group,” said Andrew Doyle, director of Audi UK.

“Its incredible refinement and performance suggest that it is something out of the ordinary, but in terms of usability, quality, design and engineering it will be a home-from-home for anyone familiar with a modern-day Audi.”

Audi drivers may never stop at a red traffic light again

Audi traffic light information Europe

Audi drivers may never stop at a set of traffic lights again thanks to new technology being rolled out in Europe.

From July, Audi will network new models with the traffic lights in Ingolstadt, Germany, with drivers told what speed is required to catch the next set of lights on green. In theory, it should mean no more red lights and a smoother flow of traffic… assuming you drive an Audi.

Audi traffic light information Europe

Audi says further European cities will follow from next year, although drivers in the U.S. have been using the service since late 2016. The ‘Traffic Light Information’ is available at more than 5,000 American intersections, including 1,000 in the U.S. capital alone.

The system uses Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ to relay information to the driver. If they will reach the lights on red, a countdown will count the seconds to the next green phase. Used correctly, an Audi driver could travel through an entire city without seeing a red light.

Audi traffic light service

All European A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7, Q8 and e-tron models produced from mid-July will feature the function, but customers must opt for the required navigation and infotainment package, along with the camera-based traffic sign recognition.

Greater challenges in Europe

Audi traffic light information Europe

Commenting on why the service is arriving in Europe two years later than in North America, Andre Hainzlmaier, head of development of apps, connected services and smart city at Audi, said: “The challenges for the serial introduction of the service are much greater here than, for example, in the USA, where urban traffic light systems were planned over a large area and uniformly.

“In Europe, by contrast, the traffic infrastructure has developed more locally and decentrally – with a great variety of traffic technology.

Audi traffic light information Europe

“How quickly other cities are connected to this technology depends above all on whether data standards and interfaces get established and cities digitalize their traffic lights.”

Audi says the so-called ‘green wave’ technology might be incorporated into the sat-nav to plot the smoothest and most efficient route through an urban area, while it’s conceivable that e-tron models could make increased use of braking energy to charge the batteries.

For non-Audi drivers, the message is simple: follow a suitably-equipped Audi through an urban area if you’re hoping to avoid delays.

Audi S8 long-term review: life with a classic super saloon

Audi S8 long-term review

It’s the tail end of 2001. The Millennium Bug has buggered off and the Millennium Dome will soon be sold on. Meanwhile, the coolest super saloon on the block is the original (D2) Audi S8.

Despite starring in one of Hollywood’s most epic car chases (in 1998’s Ronin), the subtle S8 flew under the radar. It’s a bit of a unicorn these days, garnering respectful nods from the sort of car geeks you’d avoid at a dinner party. We absolutely loved it.

Übermacht: meeting the Audi S8

Audi long-term review

In the over-styled, over-sized, and obese automotive world of 2019, the S8 looks modest: perfectly proportioned and effortlessly tasteful. It’s a collector of double-takes, as onlookers realise this low-slung saloon isn’t a typical old Audi. Watching it trundle into the office car park was enough to eke an ‘Ooohh’ out of several MR staffers.

The first S8 was launched in 1996, some 10 years before the R8 supercar arrived to drag Audi’s music-video appeal up by the scruff of the neck. Big wheels and those signature alloy mirror covers complement flashes of chrome on the grilles and window trims. Today, that sounds like a paint-by-numbers Audi S model. Back then, it was über-cool.

Our S8 – on loan from Audi UK’s extensive heritage fleet – is no spring chicken. In our month-long stewardship, its mileage ticked over the 157,000 mark. As such, some of the paint is a bit faded and the leather a touch tired. No matter, we love a bit of patina and it is, after all, a mile-munching luxo-barge.

Read our long-term review of the classic Audi A4 DTM

Littler than large luxo-barge

Audi long-term review

Getting inside, it couldn’t be more ‘2001’ if Ricky Martin was blaring out of the stereo. The leather chairs – yes these are chairs, not seats – absorb you. The tiny infotainment screen is dim in daylight, and outdone in the dark by quintessential Audi red backlighting. The plentiful wood shows even this most modern premium marque was chasing old-school luxury tropes back then and there’s no sign of the stylish sloping centre console of subsequent generations just yet.

The electric rear blind is perfect for shielding back-seat passengers from the sun, or hiding Justin Timberlake from prying paparazzi lenses (possibly).

For its comparatively slight proportions – it’s not much larger than a current A4 – the S8 is nicely spacious inside. The control weights are heavy, the buttons make a satisfying click and the shifter for the automatic gearbox has a hefty clunk that today’s drive buttons could never hope to replicate. Once your seat and mirrors are adjusted, it’s one of those cars that feels so right – an effect amplified once you hit the road.

Driving the S8 – a proper super saloon

Audi S8 long-term review

No starter buttons, no keyless go: the key goes in the column, kids. Turn it, and a nondescript hum fills the cabin as the 4.2-litre 40-valve V8 coughs into life. Yes, this engine would inform the unit that found its way into the middle of the R8.

Here, it’s no 420hp screamer, putting out 355hp, which goes to ground via a five-speed automatic transmission.

Engage drive, release the manual handbrake and the waft-tastic regression session begins. At the risk of outing myself for bad driving habits, the S8 is a car that inspires a spot of ‘palming’. That is, flat-handing the top of the wheel and guiding it round as you slither around urban streets.

Gear changes are a bit lurchy, exacerbated by the eager-to-rev engine. Make the V8 sing, however, and a reputation forged by Ronin is quickly justified. This is perfect early-2000s car chase fodder, as evidenced by the fact that Jason Statham swapped his BMW 7 Series for an A8 in sequels to The Transporter. What Ultimate Driving Machine?

Audi S8 long-term review

Beemer-beater, the S8 isn’t, though. The Quattro all-wheel drive is faithfully grippy and the chassis feels balanced if not pushed too hard. Its damping is compliant, but there’s just a bit more body roll than you’d want. If the driving gets any more exciting than a swift hustle, the fact that the engine sits almost completely beyond the front wheels becomes obvious. It’s definitely a super saloon rather than a sports saloon.

What the S8 has in spades (and which we sorely miss in modern cars), is a bit of tyre sidewall. It rides beautifully when pressing on, making light work of rutted British roads.

Big distances, big fuel bills

What the S8 is most good at is chewing miles. Sorry, chewing fuel. Sorry, both at once. The beautifully refined cabin, with its double-glazed windows, is the perfect place to forget that you’re doing, at best, 24mpg. If you’re exercising that V8 at all, it’s more like 15mpg.

The S8 on a long run is absolutely delightful, as reported by all at team MR. Tim took a family trip to Norfolk in it, Richard did some commuting and I ran it for miles in-between. Just as soon as you fall in love with the delicious bubble the S8 provides for a long journey, so too do you worry about its voracious appetite.

Audi S8 long-term review

The Audi S8, like the Millenium Dome, is of its time. Both represent the era from which they originate giving itself a hearty pat on the back. And both live on in 2019, with equally strong arguments for and against their suitability. You love it from afar, you enjoy it up close, but sooner or later, the novelty wears off. Almost.

You hand back the keys, quietly nursing your superleggera wallet, then you immediately have second thoughts. You’d take 10mpg if it meant you could go for one last waft. Boy, do we miss it now it’s gone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watch an artist EXPLODE an Audi R8 down to its V10

Audi R8 exploded view

Artist Fabian Oefner has created an artwork with the Audi R8, ‘exploding’ it into its component parts in a freeze-frame profile image. It’s part of Audi USA’s celebration of 10 years of the R8 V10 engine.

This isn’t Oefner’s first piece of this kind. Recently, he worked with Lamborghini to create a similar piece with the iconic Miura. Before that, he did the Porsche 956 Group C prototype.

To create the image was a long and labour-intensive process. None of which involved detonating explosives within the bowels of an R8…

Multiple photographs, multiple angles, multiple components – all are combined and digitally stitched together. 

As you can see from the video, while the image itself is a digital creation, the disassembly of a real R8 actually occurred. And modern cars have far more individual components than those of years gone by

10 years of the V10-powered R8

The V10-engined R8 turns 10 this year, and Audi has also celebrated with 222 R8 ‘Decennium’ editions. 

Nothing encapsulates ‘halo model’ quite like this V10-amidships screamer sharing showroom space with hatchbacks, executive saloons and crossovers.

However, it’s rumoured the next R8 could be all-electric and wear an ‘E-tron’ badge. We’ll miss it when it’s gone, that’s for sure.

You can buy print of this image for $24.95 from Audi USA’s website. It’s likely to cost a little more for those of us on the European side of the pond, after postage and currency exchange.