In a candid conversation with CarAdvice, Watkins spoke in glowing terms of working across platforms with Lamborghini engineers.
“We work very closely and there’s no doubt the end result is better for it,” he said.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to take in the fact that a guy from Canada with a sales and dealer background is working on such important platforms with a company like Audi, but the experience of working closely with the Italians at Lamborghini has been incredible."
Watkins reckons expertise travels both ways with the development of a better end-product ultimately paying dividends for both companies.
“You have to remember that the Italians at Lamborghini had, for so long, worked with so little budget, with almost nothing to invest to design and build their cars,” he said. “So for them, having Audi on board has been something they have loved. It’s given them the freedom to explore even better super sportscars with the flair only they have.”
“The other factor that is so valuable is that such a restriction on budget has made them incredibly smart at doing a lot with not very much. Contrary to what outsiders might think, Lamborghini has created efficiencies with design and manufacturing that have translated into great success with Audi. We’ve learnt a hell of a lot from them and the way they approach design issues.”
It’s fair to say then, that the flow of information and expertise has gone both ways. It hasn’t all been about Audi taking over and wielding a big stick in Sant Agata.
Like everyone CarAdvice spoke to who was associated with the R8 project, Watkins was adamant that maintaining a different character between the R8 and Huracan has been fundamental to the success of both.
“The R8 is a very different car than the Huracan and it needs to be,” he said. “We know the buyer profile is completely different for starters, and those buyers need a completely different car depending on which one they choose. Ultimately its the small details that make them different, but you can feel those details when you’re behind the wheel either on the road or the track.
“It’s fair to say, in Europe certainly, that while R8 owners usually have another vehicle in the garage, often another Audi, R8 owners generally use their cars more often than Huracan owners,” he said. “That is why we have such a focus on daily usability and comfort. You can feel on poor road surfaces for example, the R8 suspension tune is a little more comfortable and forgiving than the Huracan.”
The end message is clear. Two factors stand out above all others for Audi when it concerns the R8. Firstly, it has to be usable and reliable as a daily driver. And secondly, while it needs to be different to the Huracan and stay that way, it’s the subtle similarities than make both cars such sensational driving machines.
Read our more detailed Audi R8 specifications story here.
Read our first review of the 2016 Audi R8 here.