Top speed: 196mph 0-60mph 3.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 351g/km
Best for: Attention seekers
Also worth considering? Lamborghini Gallardo; Aston Martin Vantage; Porsche 911 Turbo
James Bradley was the highest bidder in the 'Wheels on Fire' category in last year's Independent Christmas Charity Appeal – and his prize was a road-test and review of a new 2009 model. Here is his review of the new Audi R8.
I have only one serious negative thing to say about Audi's latest version of the R8, and it's my fault, not the car's. You see, I suspect that, like a lot of people, I don't really like to be the centre of attention.
In fact, my response is to look around frantically for the nearest escape. And in this supercar, you are constantly stared and pointed at – in fact, people stood in front of the car at the traffic lights and took photographs with their mobiles.
I could see their disappointment when they looked inside the cabin – hoping perhaps to catch a glimpse of Wayne Rooney or Daniel Craig, and instead all they could see was little old me, piloting this chariot of the gods.
The car itself does exactly what it says on the tin, or rather, the lightweight aluminium body. It is a sublime balance of form and function. If I am really, really pushed to criticise its looks, all I can think of is that there are a couple of angles from which it is not quite as photogenic or as beautiful as, say, the immaculate Ferrari 246GT. But, like the general public, I just couldn't stop looking at it.
I even liked the controversial side panels. Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether the panels are unnecessary or ugly – or both. To me, though, the question of how a car looks is rather similar to the argument over modern art. First and foremost, it should evoke a response; it doesn't have to appeal to everyone's taste. Bland, this car is not.
The engine is awesome and looks gorgeous. And what power: any gear, any revs, just dial it in and it will deliver. The G-force and accompanying engine chorus would make even Jack Dee smile. At 2,000 revs, pulling from fourth gear, the depth of bass could only come from a bull with a scrotum so large that it brushed the clover. Then, as the rev counter spins clockwise, the V10 makes a sound so wonderful that if it were recorded and available on iTunes, it would undoubtedly reach number one in the Petrol Head Charts.
I trust the people who make this car. At no point did I worry about its ability to deliver me from A to B safely, no matter how good or bad my driving. The Archbishop of Canterbury would disapprove, but the R8 has soul.