With the world debut of the R8 tantalizingly close now the test mule sightings continue to pile up. This week two separate AudiWorld readers in Arizona captured R8 photos using their cell phones. When first posted in the Discussion Forums people assumed that it was the same vehicle spotted twice. We soon came to find out, however, that Audi continues to test at least two different R8 mules in the desert.
In each case the Audi supercar was being trailed by a support / coordination vehicle. It must be hell to be the one driving the rental minivan as opposed to the uber-sportscar, but most enthusiasts we know would still volunteer for the Audiâ€™s new car road testing support team!
An AudiWorld reader spotted the first R8 in an office parking lot in Munds Park, AZ (about 15 miles south of Flagstaff). The R8 crew had apparently just stopped for a break when one of his co-workers saw the â€œcrazy carâ€ out in the parking lot and came in to tell people about it. In our photographerâ€™s words, â€œhalf way out I realized what it was and seriously got the chills.â€
The reader spoke to the three guys standing near the car and found that they had come up to Flagstaff for high altitude testing and were planning to be around a few more days. Only one spoke English and he wasnâ€™t sharing anything important (or thus far unknown) about the R8.
He also got a reasonably good look at the interior â€“ although no pictures unfortunately. He summarized the interior by saying it reminded him of the Gallardo, with the gear box setup the same way, the familiar seats and the instrument cluster showing a similarity. He added that the steering wheel was 3-spoke and had a flat-bottom similar to the Euro-spec RS4 wheel.
Lastly, while the reader did say that the R8 was very Gallardo-ish, he further added that it clearly had an Audi â€œfeelâ€ to it.
The second R8 was seen by a different AudiWorld reader many miles south at the Tempe Mission Palms in Tempe, AZ. The Tempe Mission Palms is a reasonably nice resort in downtown Tempe.
Walking inside for a business meeting the reader spots the R8 coming up to the entrance (and bottoming out in the process) and then proceeding to the valet. A conversation ensues whereby the R8â€™s driver informs the valet that he cannot give him the keys, that he was just stopping to pick up a part for the car and that he was going to leave it parked in front. The German driver (very, very German according to our reader) proceeds inside and the photographs begin.
Soon thereafter the support vehicle pulls up behind and the crew just watches our reader snapping pictures. Just as he is about to try to capture interior shots the driver walks back out and in a split second decision, which he says he firmly regretted as soon as it happened, he lets the driver pass without speaking to him or trying to gather further information (or the aforementioned interior shots).
The reader specifically commented on the fantastic looking quad exhaust pipes and the rumbling sound: â€œmy neighbor has a Gallardo and it sounded identical.â€
Interestingly no shots of the R8 have been captured in Colorado where Audi ordinarily does high altitude testing in the mountains. Local contacts in Colorado have not reported seeing any trace of the R8, although it has certainly been out in force in both Arizonaâ€™s desert and high country.
With the Paris Auto Show coming up in a two weeks we would ordinarily expect to see advance photos released from Audi around this timeframe. Audi has also been putting together microsites for new vehicles as of late, however we are not expecting photos or any R8 microsite in advance of the R8â€™s world debut.
Inside information provided to AudiWorld says that the publicâ€™s first viewing of the R8 will come on Wednesday evening, September 27th, in Paris. That event is strictly by invitation only, and the R8 is then expected to be shown at Audiâ€™s stand at the Paris Auto Show for press days which start the next morning. Audi does not have an official press conference scheduled for the Paris show, however it is a good bet that press photos and documentation will be available as of September 28th. [AudiWorld]