2008 Audi R8: A few pros and cons vs GT-R
March 02, 2009
I rolled in the R8 this weekend for the first time in a while. I have, though, have been fortunate to spend some time in the GT-R. Let's compare a few items:
1. Although both are AWD, the R8 has a rear-drive feeling. The handling is light and neutral, while in the R35, you can feel the front wheels clawing away, following nearly every rain-groove in the pavement. On the R35, it's not a heavy steering feeling, but you can definitely feel the fronts contributing to forward progress.
2. On the R8, it's easy to light up the rear tires: they'll break free and spin a decent bit just by mashing the A-pedal. Yes, you can get some rear tire spin on the R35, but it will be less than on the R8, before the VDM kills it.
3. Transmissions: the R35 dual-clutch is amazingly good: a monkey can shift it positively and quickly. And I never longed for a manual. The only good thing about the R8's 6-speed R-tronic auto-shifted-manual mess is that it doesn't make crunching noises as on the R35. It's also hard for the R8 driver to control the severe back and forth pitching in the lower gears. Annoying.
I've never driven an R8 with a manual transmission, but it must be really nice, as the R-tronic (and some reliability issues) is the only major shortcoming on this beautiful and great-to-drive car. Well, that and the $120K price tag.
Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 29,151 miles
[Photo by Scott Jacobs: This was awarded the cover of the 2009 Motor Press Guild Media Guide.]