Talking to our owners over lunch, it was gratifying to note the variety of cars that had come along. First to arrive was David Wardley, with his V8 manual; then came Scott Ferguson, also with a V8 manual. Finally, David Koulakis brought along his V10 manual, in convoy with Nigel Thorne, owner of by far and away the most bonkers R8 of our group – a V10 R Tronic fitted with a Heffner twin-turbo conversion.
What? Yes, that’s right. While the V10’s 525hp would be plenty for most, Nigel’s gone all-out by having the only Heffner conversion in the country fitted to his car. The first thing we ask, of course, is why. “I get bored easily,” he says with a chuckle. Further probing reveals it to be more a case of ‘because he could’ – and because he wanted the ultimate R8. So does that power make it a handful? Seemingly not. Nigel tells us that he uses his car both on road and track, and with the Quattro system he actually finds it puts that power down well in dry conditions. It is, of course, earth-shatteringly quick.
What’s really interesting is that these guys do actually have plenty in common. All have owned a plethora of performance machinery beforehand, and have settled on the R8 as their perfect fast car. David W and Scott have both been through a succession of M3s and 911s, while David K and Nigel have both owned Audi RSs. Interestingly, none of the assembled company expresses any intention of or desire to change, despite them all having owned their R8s for a couple of years or so. Owner satisfaction with the R8 is, it seems, extremely high.
So, crunch time. What do they think of the new one? David K’s arguably the biggest Audi nut here, having owned pretty much every modern performance model in the company’s range, including an R8 V8 before his V10, and he and Nigel both go around the new car spotting the differences. The changes are detail, but they’re there alright – the switch from an egg crate grille to a slatted one, and the addition of an extra vane to each of the V10’s front air dams to bring it into line with the V8 are two of the changes that meet with a mixed reaction. Overall, David K and Nigel express a touch of disappointment that the V10 has been made to look more like the V8; there’s less to differentiate the two. But there are some plus points; the paddle shifters have been extended, making them easier to reach from a ten-to-two driving position, for example, and the new diamond quilted leather option, though not fitted to our test car, is a change that generates plenty of reaction. Eagle-eyed Nigel does spot a touch of cost-saving in the engine bay, though – the ‘V10 FSI’ plinth that was formerly carbon fibre is now plastic, and slightly less premium-feeling for it.
On the whole, though, it’s a cautiously appreciative response. That said, the general feeling is that there isn’t quite enough of a difference between old and new models to give these guys a reason to upgrade. Like or loathe the R8, though, today’s meet has just reinforced the impression that it manages to be all things to all people – and that its owners are a bunch rightly chuffed with their choice of car.
See below for more from each of our R8 owners: