Audi R8 (2007-2015)

Entering a new market segment often ends in tears, but when Audi unveiled its first ever supercar in 2006, it hit the bull’s eye. Pitched against some seriously capable rivals, the Audi R8 wasn’t just their equal – it could beat them. But despite genuine supercar looks and performance, the R8 is as easy to use as an A3 or A4, while running costs tend to be significantly lower than for similar machinery available elsewhere. With standard four-wheel drive to help get the power down, and a choice of brilliant engines and transmissions, could this be the perfect supercar?

Key dates

10/06: The R8 breaks cover with a 414bhp 4.2 V8.

3/07: The first V8 coupés reach UK showrooms. 

3/09: There’s now a 518bhp V10 coupé.

3/10: A V10 Spyder is launched. 

7/10: The lighter, more powerful and more focused 552bhp R8 GT coupé appears. Just 33 come to the UK.

7/11: An R8 GT spyder is now available.

7/10: The Spyder is now offered in V8 form.

9/11: The V8 Limited Edition coupé debuts with navigation, Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, magnetic ride plus numerous interior and exterior trim upgrades.

7/12: A revised R8 comes with a new dual-clutch gearbox, LED lighting, extra kit and now 542bhp in V10 form.

10/14: The R8 LMX packs 562bhp V10 and laser headlights. Just 99 are sold globally.


  • Alloy wheels are easily kerbed and repairs can be expensive; replacement wheels are very costly.
  • Don’t pay a massive premium for a V10, when in the real world the V8 is just as quick and better balanced.
  • R8s without any extras are relatively basic, so check to see what options have been fitted. Many cars have thousands of pounds worth of extras.
  • The R8 doesn’t eat tyres like some rivals. But when fresh rubber is needed, the bill will be high.
  • Low-mileage cars can suffer from surprisingly high oil consumption. Things tend to settle down as the miles are racked up.
  • Engine warning lights can illuminate because of poor quality fuel being used or problems with damaged coil pack wiring.

We like

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Build quality
  • Looks
  • Refinement
  • Easy to drive
  • Relative value

We don’t like

  • Ordinary cabin
  • Thirsty engines


Audi A3 (2003-2012)

When Audi introduced the original A3 in 1996 it created the first successful premium small hatch, and the car would go on to become hugely popular. It was with the second take on the formula though, that Audi really got into its stride. Sharing the Volkswagen Golf’s floorpan, the A3 featured a more upmarket interior and the understated styling for which the German brand is famous. With a lifespan of almost a decade, the second-generation A3 came with a huge choice of engines, trims, transmissions and bodystyles, which is why there’s bound to be one for you.

Key dates

5/03: The A3 Mk2 arrives with a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines.

7/04: A 2.0 TFSi (turbo petrol) joins the range, along with the five-door Sportback. 

5/06: A 2.0 TDi 170 is introduced, with optional quattro 4WD. 

10/06: A 1.8 TFSI debuts, alongside the quick S3.

5/07:  A 1.4 TFSi petrol engine is now available.

10/07: The ultra-frugal 1.9 TDie appears. 

4/08: The A3 cabriolet arrives, as the range is facelifted.

7/09: A 109g/km 1.6 TDi reaches showrooms; six months later its emissions are cut to 99g/km. 

1/10: A 1.2 TFSi engine debuts.


  • On manual cars, clutch judder suggests the flywheel is falling apart; it can happen after just 40,000 miles.
  • A3 radiators can prove fragile, with leaks possible after just 18 months. Look for signs of coolant at the base of the radiator.
  • Owners can get locked out of their cars if the door sensor microswitch fails. The doors lock themselves, with the keys left inside the car.
  • Steering racks of early cars are prone to failure; replacements are costly but racks to the later design tend to be more durable.
  • ECUs, electrics, electronics and associated sensors can all play up, so make sure all the warning lights go out and that everything works.

We like

  • Wide model range
  • Lots to choose from
  • Build quality
  • Strong engines
  • Strong image
  • Refinement
  • Comfy seats

We don’t like

  • Inert handling
  • Less reliable than you think
  • They’re everywhere
  • Three-door’s cramped rear seats
  • Firm ride of some models
  • High purchase costs


Richard Dredge