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Audi R8 to lift brand higher

Big boots: When it arrived in 2007, the R8 marked a significant milestone for Audi as its first supercar, but the second generation has arrived to take the baton.

R8 V10 halo effect more important than supercar sales, says Audi

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Audi logo10 Jun 2016

AFTER nine years serving as the flagship of Audi's range, the second-generation R8 supercar has arrived, but while the German car-maker says increased sales of its most exclusive model are possible, its belle of the ball is no cash cow.

Following the local introduction of the R8 in 2007, Audi sold an average of 47 examples each year, totalling 427, but with a growing market, Australia's unquenchable thirst for potent performance and an all-new model, the company says it will increase volume.

However, speaking at the Australian launch of the 2016 R8, Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle told GoAuto that the presence of the R8 in showrooms had as much to do with sales of all four-ringed models as it does its own.

“You have the greatest expression of what the brand stands for in these supercars,” he said. “It's the greatest representation of what we can do outside of motorsport and on the road.

“I'm a strong believer that having vehicles like this and having motorsport success sell us and allow us to be an aspirational brand that sells very good volumes of A1s and A3s and all sorts of models across the brand. People know that our technology is in those cars as well.”

At the model's first Australian circuit drive in February, the Audi MD told GoAuto that about 60 orders had already been taken for the new model with that number likely to have swollen since and, while Mr Doyle would not update the figure, he said the previous version's performance could be beaten.

“We're always ambitious and I think therefore we can do better than the previous model in terms of volume. The market has also grown, but of course, when the market grows the competition grows as well, but we believe we can do a bit better than the previous one.”

In its previous generation, the R8 was offered in its most affordable variant with a V8 engine and manual transmission, but for the new model only the most vicious V10 engine coupled to a dual-clutch auto is on offer, boosting the entry-level price to $354,900 before on-road costs.

Despite the beefier base price, Mr Doyle said the even more expensive $389,900 V10 Plus was running as the pick of the R8 line-up for now.

“In the order split we do have currently, it's 80/20, which is to be expected because you get a lot more with the V10 Plus.”

With 5.2-litre V10 engine mounted mid-ship and sending up to 449kW to all four wheels, the R8 goes up against some serious and established competition from powerful rivals, including Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche and the closely-related Lamborghini Huracan.

All of the R8's competitors have been playing the supercar game for longer than Audi and most rely partly on their heritage and reputation to preserve resale value, but Mr Doyle explained that its relatively young supercar brand had fared well on the used-car market.

“Despite the fact that this is our first supercar, the residual value has been very strong,” he said.

“Resale value is driven by a number of things the strength of the brand, the length of the brand in that segment, but then also the strength and demand for the product.

“What we've seen is more than 400 sales and during that period we've seen a good turnover of used cars. The dealers enjoyed some success through trading in and reselling those vehicles.

“There has been a good used-car market and a good opportunity both from a dealer point of view and a customer point of view.”

A preliminary search of the Australian R8 private seller pool online appears to confirm Mr Doyle's comments with a number of the gen-one cars that range from a 2007 V8 with a $129,900 asking price to a low-kilometre LMX for $424,990, of which only three came to Australia.

While the existing first-gen R8 fleet continues to hold a respectable value, Mr Doyle explained that the advent of a new R8 in Australia could herald a good time for fans of the gen-one car to get out their cheque books.

“Of course, we will see a lot of trade-ins now for the new car and, like any performance car, there is a residual value effect when there's a new car launch.”

The R8 serves as the flag-bearer of the Audi Sport brand which launched in August last year and covers all S and RS variants in the auto-maker's catalogue. Mr Doyle said the introduction of the high-performance umbrella brand has had the desired effect and would be bolstered by the arrival of the new R8.

“A lot of people are saying 'it was your best kept secret'... it's a no-brainer. We can create these incredible machines and it is what we are all about. It drives the brand. It's what the enthusiasts love about the brand and it's what the A1 owners love about the brand. It has been outstanding.”

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