2008 Audi R8 Long Term Road Test


2008 Audi R8: Car Noir

July 28, 2008

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How many times can I get up to look out the window to see this beauty in my driveway?

But we couldn't let if just sit there. So we headed south toward San Diego but then remembered it was the last day of Comic-Con and didn't want anyone to mistake the Audi R8 for the Millennium Falcon. So we stopped off in San Clemente, former home of the former worst President of the U.S.

It's a quaint old town with a little shopping district, some nice restaurants and lots of Spanish mission type of architecture. All of the buildings look like Kim Novak should jump off of them. But I guess that was San Juan Capistrano.

The ride packed the usual excitement for other drivers. It really makes me nervous when you see cars looking at you in the mirror instead of the road. There's always somebody who takes your picture, somebody who wants to race, somebody in a Prius who yells at you as you drive by because you're destroying the environment. The usual crowd.

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There is something accessible about the R8 that makes people want to talk to you. I can't imagine getting the same reaction in a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Perhaps it's the newness of the R8. People haven't seen it before. And the style is exotic without being ostentatious. It makes people happy.

On the highway, the R8 is fun, fun, fun. Merging? No problem. Speeding? Can be a problem. Once the R8 gets going, its low hum lulls you into thinking you are driving at legal speeds. Until you look at the speedometer and "Whoa."

Starting off is very clunky in the lower gears, very similar to driving the Smart. No fooling. The transition from 1st to 2nd can be awkward until you learn to finesse it. Outside of the attention factor, the similarities end there. I was driving behind a friend in the R8 and he said when he looked in his rear-view mirror, he thought the R8 was going to eat him. The Smart on the other hand looks like it's about to be gobbled up by Ms. Pac-Man.

One of the interesting things about the R8 is that, although you can drive it as an automatic, it has no "Park" gear. You just put on the hand brake, notch the shifter into gear and shut her off.

audi-r8-storage.jpg Behind the seat is a handy storage area that keeps small items from bouncing around yet remain within arm's reach.

The nav system was a pain in the you-know-what. It gave me ridiculous directions and when I chose another path, kept telling me to make a u-turn. I mean, I must have passed twenty-five intersections before it finally shut up and readjusted itself. And then it still tried to re-route me back to its original course. I ended up shutting it off. The tiny map graphics were useless anyway.

Have you seen any Audi R8s on the road?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 15,696 miles

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