2009 R8 New Car Test Drive
The Audi R8 racing car has won five times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and finished first in an amazing 62 of 79 international endurance races. Audi's first super sports car for the street takes the R8 name, challenging the Ferrari F430 and others, although, at a price that's at least $70,000 less, it might be no contest.
The Audi R8 features an exotic aluminum space frame, and a mid-mounted compact V8 engine making 420 horsepower. The most stunning feature is the clear Lexan cover over the engine, with LED lighting to show it off. The R8's skin was designed for efficient aerodynamics, by the same team of engineers who designed the R8 racing car; an underbody diffuser creates downforce to keep the R8 on the ground at its top speed of 187 miles per hour. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
Despite this performance capability, any little old lady could drive the R8 around on the street. It's that tame. She could probably even crawl in and out herself, and once she got in the cockpit, she would be comfortable. The R8 has every creature comfort of a luxury car, including excellent legroom, and many options, from a navigation system to a 12-speaker, 465-watt sound system. There's decent luggage space under the hood in front, and a lot of space behind the seats.
Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual and high-tech six-speed R-Tronic, which is a manual transmission with no clutch pedal, that can be shifted either with paddle shifters, a lever, or by automatic mode. This transmission works best when the car is being driven near its maximum; at casual speeds, it's inconsistent and jerky.
The brakes are race-worthy, and a bit sensitive at slow speeds. The shock absorbers adjust to the road conditions, and the ride can be set in two modes, Comfort and Sport; in either mode it's firm but never harsh. The cornering, with inherent ideal balance and quattro all-wheel drive, is in a class by itself.
What makes the R8 exceptional is that it does it all: incredible high performance without making any compromises for civility and comfort.
The 2008 Audi R8 can be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission ($109,000) or the six-speed R-Tronic sequential manual gearbox ($118,000).
Standard equipment includes all the basic creature comforts, including 10-way heated power seats with Alcantara leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control, driver information system, and a seven-speaker 140-watt sound system with in-dash CD player and Sirius radio. Also standard are 19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps, and advanced anti-theft vehicle alarm system.
Nappa leather seats with four-way lumbar support are an option ($5500). A Premium Package ($3500) features a 12-speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo with six-disc CD changer. Navigation is optional ($2000).
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags with passenger sensor, side door chest airbags, side door knee airbags, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitor, and cool looking LED taillights as well as daytime running lights, because you might be coming up on traffic kind of fast and the car is real low. LED headlights, the first on any production car, are optional. LED lighting most closely resembles daylight, and is less tiring for the driver.