Is it fast?
Oh lordy yes. More than you’d expect, given the twin electric motors have a lower combined output than a regular V8 R8, at 374 bhp. The 605lb ft torque figure is more relevant, and with instant delivery and no tiresome gearchanges to deal with it belts you to 62mph in 4.2 seconds. Top speed isn’t so hot at 124 mph, but even at that speed you’ll drain the battery in half an hour. Better, as we did, to experience all that acceleration on repeated launches and hook-ups out of corners at a test track.
Is it sexy?
That depends on how much you like the normal R8, though we’d argue the e-tron is a little sexier. More of it is made from carbonfibre for a start, including the large, battery-hiding rear panel which exposes its unpainted, slatted carbon finish to the world. The active aerodyamic wheels are straight from a sci-fi movie and the ‘Crescendorot’ paintwork stuns in the sun.
Or to put it another way, all the kids from the school adjacent to our test track dropped their games of football and rushed to the fence every time we buzzed around. Electric or not, the R8 still has the wow-factor.
What’s it like to drive?
You know the Nissan Leaf? It’s nothing like that at all. In fact, with rear-wheel drive to the regular R8′s four driven wheels it’s quite old-school – turn the traction control off, give it a bootful around a corner and the rear arcs around like a good’un. Easy to catch, too thanks to quick and surprisingly talkative steering.
When you aren’t playing silly buggers, the torque vectoring motors help adjust your cornering line for epic grip, and the electrically-assisted brakes will almost put you through the windscreen. Above all, it’s hilarious fun – not something you’d usually associate with an electric car. Perhaps its most impressive talent is making you forget that there isn’t actually an engine roaring away behind you, something many petrolheads are a little worried about as electric cars filter onto the market. And the polar bears will love you for it.
How about the inside?
It’s pretty much standard R8 in here, which isn’t a bad thing. The basic dashboard design is getting on a bit, but it was hardly nasty to begin with. The bucket seats feel fantastic, too. By far the coolest element though is the rear-view mirror. In absence of a glass rear window, Audi has fit a tiny camera on the roof, its image displayed on an OLED panel where the rear-view mirror would normally be. A little odd to peer into at first, but effortlessly slick.
Will my mates rate it?
After they’ve got over their natural preconceptions about electric cars, almost certainly. If they rate the regular R8 then they’ll not have much trouble warming to this one, and flattening them against their bucket seat should take care of the rest. If they’ve seen Tony Stark drive it in the latest Iron Man movie, then all the hard work has already been done.
Can I afford it?
There are two answers to this, both of which are ‘no’. The first ‘no’ is because each of the ten R8 e-trons Audi has produced so far cost over £850,000, making it comfortably the most expensive vehicle we have ever tested. And making us clench like we’ve never clenched before every time it went sideways.
The second ‘no’ is because those ten examples are all Audi will ever produce of the e-tron – and none of them are going on sale. Bugger.
Show me three alternatives
It’s only natural to suggest Audi’s own petrol-powered R8 first. With used examples kicking around from £45,000 it’s 19 times more affordable and 100 percent more available than its electric cousin.
The first true electric supercar? It may look like a Lotus Elise but Tesla knows electric cars like Audi knows Vorspringing durch Technik, and made them cool before most people knew they were uncool.
Another German automaker decides to tackle the electric supercar thing, but this one paints it bright yellow or chrome blue and then actually puts it on sale. Even more ludicrously fast than the Audi, and cheaper too at £300,000 plus taxes.Audi R8 E-tron Review: Iron Man Has It Good,