Any luxury brand that wants to be taken seriously by people with money needs to sell both a flagship sedan and a world-class sports car. Without these two components, A-list status is elusive, though not impossible, as Lexus has proven for many years. Audi, a relative newcomer to the A-list, has long sold its A8 sedan, fulfilling the first requirement. More recently, the automaker unleashed its R8 sports car for the 2009 model year, a mid-engine performance machine that serves as an alternative choice for well-heeled iconoclasts disinterested in the usual Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche models favored by the nouveau riche.
My first time driving the Audi R8 was on a racetrack, which is as it should have been, given its storied namesake. Five years later, I’m sitting in a big house on a big hill overlooking a big ocean, ready to accept the keys to a new 2014 Audi R8. I’ve got two hours with the car. I know well the local mountain roads. The next 120 minutes are going to be fun.