Judged to be among the finest novelties at the Paris Show, the Audi R8 is spectacular for the sheer simplicity of its lines and the balance of its volumes which reiterates the superiority of the German marque’s recent design language in the supersports segment as well.

The first mid-engined Audi, the R8 derives from the Le Mans prototype of three years ago “but without betraying that concept”, stresses Walter de’ Silva, the Audi Group design chief.

Mid-engined cars are generally inspired by motor sports. “This is the first my team and I have ever designed”, remarks De’Silva, “so we also had to make a conscious effort to steer clear of these conventions. The performance lies in the engine, the exterior had to express elegance and class”.

Mechanicals are an integral part of the design, especially in cars like this. But around the showcased 4.2 litre V8 engine producing 420 bhp (0-100 km/h in 4,6 seconds, top speed 301 km/h), the permanent four-wheel drive, the large 18” rubber-shod wheels that seem to have been lifted directly from a race car and the Audi space frame, there lies an aluminium skin of rare beauty.

As for the interior, form follows function with a linearity and simplicity that go hand in hand with the styling of the externals. “We could not leave out an element of comfort”, explains De’ Silva, “as we believe that the R8 is a car to be driven every day. Two suitcases can fit in the front luggage compartment, along with a suit-bag and a shoe case. Two more suitcases can fit behind the seats or – to cater for the American market – two golf bags”.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 161

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