2008 Audi R8: Stare Master
August 04, 2008
This job has given me the opportunity to sample a lot of impressive automobiles: Dodge Vipers, the Lotus Elise and Exige, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Ford GT, Vettes, AMG Benzes, the occasional Ferrari, a plethora of Porsches and the Nissan GT-R. But none of them has elicted the kind of extended gawking, spontaneous cell-phone photography and ill-advised pursuit as this 2008 Audi R8.
It started on the 91 freeway as I was driving home. The guy in the car pool lane next to me held-up his followers for a good 5 minutes while his passenger shot dubious-quality photos with his cell phone. At one point people in three different cars on all sides of me were doing much the same thing. Is this what it's like to be Brad Pitt?
Every lane-splitting motorcyclist I saw on the freeways over the whole weekend paused just off my starboard bow to look back over his shoulder and stare for a few seconds before giving a thumbs-up and darting ahead, hoping I'd drop a gear and take-off in pursuit. Sorry, pal, but I can't squeeze between cars like your Ducati can.
And then there was the kid who ran out of his garage and hurdled the bicycle in his driveway at a dead run, cell phone camera in-hand, while I cruised down the street toward his house.
Gawkers of all ages, from 10-year old skate-boarders to 70-year old dog-walkers on Balboa Island were heard to spew variations of the same expletive: "F***, that's a bitchin' car!"
My whole time in the car is probably documented on YouTube and various message boards.
I'm not sure what it is. Its appearance as the Starkmobile in Ironman? Maybe, but none of the folks who talked to me made that connection. The visible V8 under glass, the LED eyelash daytime running lights and the rollicking V8 exhaust note doubtless have something to do with it. But the R8 also grabs the eye on a gut level. It looks fast and exudes just the right amount of don't-even-try-it menace. Yeah, the Audi R8 is just plain bitchin'.
Everyone asked the price, of course. But even those who clearly couldn't afford it thought $120 or $130k was a bargain. The R8 would seem to be a bargain for Audi, too, as everyone I talked visibly recalibrated their respect for the entire Audi brand based on merely seeing this car. "That's an Audi? I had no idea."
Oh, and the R8 drives bitchin' and hauls ass, too. But here's a tip: save ten grand and get the regular 6-speed manual instead of the R-tronic single-clutch automated manual transmission. Paddles aside, I'll wait for a dual-clutch version.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,211 miles