Jaguar F-Type convertible, Porsche 911 Cabriolet, Audi R8 soft-top – which one would you buy? There’s a big difference in prices and the Jag is the cheapest by far but is it way out of it’s depth in such company?
Having driven all three this summer, I’d opt for the practical, sensible and easiest-to-live-with 911. I don’t think the 911 is that inspiring to look at, it doesn’t set my pulse racing like the F-Type but it is the brilliant all-rounder.
I’v already talked about the F-Type having a heart and soul, although it’s a real shame the noisy tailpipes and uninspiring interior let the car down.
That might suggest the R8 is a great compromise but, well, it just looks a little rear heavy. I know the design is meant to exude true ‘supercar’ but quite frankly, despite the amazing handling, the Audi has a fat arse and that’s the end of it.
Which leads me to conclude this is a dead heat, only won by the Porsche because it does everything well. Such as shame it just conjures up images of flash bankers and little else…
I was too busy lapping up Saturday’s sunshine in the R8 to write. Whereas today has been less than exciting in the deluge – I keep thinking about all those buggers who carefully planned to take this week off to ‘enjoy’ a camping trip with the family. Painful.
As the A8 skipped down the A303 towards the coast, I could see dads in their people-movers cursing the rasping tailpipes of the Audi. At least they have kids to help them pick their retirement home one day. I’ll probably be found half-eaten by the dog.
The R8 appears to have no less than five different gearboxes – and to think my first car in 1981 only had four forward gears. Yes, you can whack it into ‘auto’ or ‘manual’, then choose ‘sport’ mode for each, or use the + and – option on the gearchanger. In fact, there’s more because the R8 has flappy paddles on the steering column.
I’m not a big fan of the flappers but hey, in a high performance car like the R8 they are great full. Using them to change down in sport mode emits a bubbling, angry sound from the twin pipes. More than enough to annoy everybody within earshot.
And the Audi is exceptionally good fun. It’s extremely forgiving, allowing even amateurs like me to feel like they have been hurtling around racetracks for years. Again, it reminds me of the Golf GTI, or a Porsche Boxster.
Jump in, turn the key and you’re a driving superstar. Nobody will know it’s the car rather than your skills that are providing the thrills.
I’ve just returned from interviewing the legend that is Jonny Wilkinson. It meant a 510-mile return trip to Newcastle, which gave me more than enough time to sample the delights of the R8.
I must say, I’ve never been a fan of the looks – if you want a supercar and can afford a six figure fee, then why not buy a ‘proper’ one? Of course, it turned out I was wrong. The Audi is all that and some.
The full story on the R8 will unravel over the next seven days but let’s start with a negative. This out-going model has drawn criticism of late for its outdated cabin. And what really let this car down was the lack of a 7-digit input sat nav system.
I’ve only been to Newcastle once before and trying to find a nameless street with the Audi system was a complete nightmare. You don’t want to keep Jonny waiting, do you.
The R8 also uses the Audi rotating dial system for selecting letters and numbers to input. It’s way too sensitive and easy to click on to the wrong digit.
I found the whole infotainment system in the R8 a complete pig’s ear. I’m visiting an organic pig farm near Swindon this afternoon to talk bacon with the owner. Perhaps I’ll ask what she thinks.
Anyway, DON’T buy an R8 if you rely on sat nav a lot. I’ve checked with Audi Swindon and they tell me it’s not possible to pay for an upgrade either. Porsche offer such a service for older cars for about £320.
Let’s hope the new R8 fixes the problem.