January 02, 2009
I may have mentioned this before, but D-shaped steering wheels on street cars are pointless. A flat-bottom wheel makes sense on a formula or prototype racing car that only needs a half-turn to travel from lock to lock, but it only takes a single curve on a winding road to understand how ill-suited they are to the slower steering ratios found in production cars. Even zippy ones like the R8.
Like many drivers, I'm a shuffle-steerer. I pass the wheel through my hands constantly as I navigate winding roads. When my hands reach the flat portion of the R8's wheel, well, they don't. The flat portion is like a giant hole in the helm's rim. A break in concentration like this is exactly what you don't need when you're driving, uh, with spirit.
The R8 is an engaging drive in nearly every conceivable way, and this concession to style is silly and unnecessary.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 25,811 miles.
December 20, 2008
"I used to like this car." She says as I'm opening the throttle, tearing down the only deserted stretch of roadway in Southern California last night. "But after the GT-R it's just so... I don't know...pointless and soft. And can you please stop doing that with the transmission?" The car had just changed from second to third, lagging for a second and then slamming the car forward. She was not impressed. But she does have a point.
Compared to the GT-R our Audi R8 is a beauty queen. Side blade and all. Functionally, though, the Audi doesn't stand up to the GT-R, at least not as far as I'm concerned.
Ever try to get out of an R8? First step is to readjust the seating position away from the correct driving position. Don't do that and you've got to tie your shoes together, dislocate your hips and swivel the whole knotted mass over to the left up to your chest and then around over 90-degrees out the massive doors and over the sill. Now imagine doing that in a dress. See, it's not that poor Hilton girl's fault.
And then there're the seats, quality is better in the Audi by a country kilometer, but the GT-R's are more supportive and grippier when the road gets turny. They also, as a reader pointed out, at certain angles look like the scream mask.
And then there're the human interfaces. Radio control: GT-R. HVAC: GT-R. Seat adjustment: GT-R. Steering wheel Adjustment: GT-R. Aforementioned ingress / egress: GT-R.
And then there's the attention. The GT-R certainly gets its fair share of looks (some of horror), but they're from people "in the know." Everyone looks at the R8. Still. Grandmothers, children, men, women, puppies. Everyone.
Oh, and cops.
The GT-R may be acoustically muted to a Toyotaistic degree, but a low vocal profile ain't always a bad thing, ya know? People who gawk at the GT-R know what it is. Everyone else just passes by. I like being passed by when I'm preparing to be bad. (As an aside, I'm a big fan of de-badging cars. I've never understood why anyone would add badges. Especially ones claiming displacement, AMG/SRT/M/SVT/SS affiliation, or horsepower --remember the C5 Z06s 405hp badge?)
Anyways, back to the point. For me, the draw of the Audi R8, despite many high-speed attempts, remains elusive.
We pulled into our garage at the end of the night and, maintaining forward momentum from the slope of the entry way, I popped the lever over to neutral and treated my neighbors to the sound of world-ending fury Audi's 4.2-liter V8 produces. She smiled that placating smile all men--especially car guys-- have seen 1,000-times and finally gives in, "Okay, that's nice. But seriously, can't we just get our own GT-R? A red one? We could make it louder." And as the GT-R, a red one, costs some $59,580 less than a similarly equipped R8, it's a bargain. It also leaves enough in the (fictional) bank for a new transaxle...should the need arise.
Cheaper + faster + more functional + girlfriend approved = better.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 25,200 miles
October 29, 2008
For some reason, our super modern, rocket-ship-looking Audi R8 has a big ole ashtray planted right in the middle of the center console.
Who do they think is driving this car, the Marlboro Man?
I can think of better uses for this space. How about an iPod connection? Or just a little storage compartment?
A lot of carmakers don't even bother with smoking accessories anymore, let alone give them such a prominent position.
Does your car have a smoker's package?
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 23,281 miles
October 07, 2008
When it comes to interiors, Audi has become the standard by which other cars are judged. So you would assume that Audi's flagship sportscar, the one with the six-figure price tag, would have a flawless cabin. Well, it is indeed quite nice, but there are a few sizable pieces of gray plastic that are hard to miss, like this one around the center stack display. They don't look terrible, but they are gray, and they are plastic, so all is not perfect.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 21,820 miles
September 08, 2008
Abomination against a supercar or coolest daycare pickup ever?
I guess this was inevitable, given that I drive our long-term cars and pick up my 2-year-old daughter from day care most days. As I cinched the Recaro Como child safety seat into the orangey-red buckets and triple-checked that the airbag was disabled before leaving the office for day care, I couldn't help but giggle out loud and wonder how often similar vehicles are put to this task. It felt half ridiculous and half cool.
After I strapped my daughter in and explained in toddler-friendly terms as much as I could about the car we were driving (which surprisingly was a lot), the trek home felt 100 percent ridiculous and 100 percent cool, as I slogged through stop-and-go surface street traffic while she squealed "Faster, mommy! Faster!" every couple of blocks. I couldn't grant her wish (and wouldn't have even if traffic had been light) for many, many reasons, but I loved her enthusiasm.
What with her already documented love for her Recaro and the zeal with which she is a passenger in high-horsepower cars, I appear to be raising a car girl.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19112 miles
August 11, 2008
I was lucky enough to style in the R8 this past weekend, my first time to drive it. Although it was penned by Walter de'Silva, its modern sexy looks could easily have been shaped by architects Frank Gehry (Disney Hall shown) or Santiago Calatrava.
The R8 attracts so much positive attention not only because of its exotic looks, but because it -- or its driver -- doesn't have a negative image. Remember the old BMW and porcupines joke? Well the same thing could apply to Porsches, Ferraris, and Lambos too. But the Audi doesn't have such baggage. And although Lambos aren't uncommon on the fashionable West side of LA, I've only seen one other R8.
I didn't experience the psycho pursuit or cell-phone stalkarazzi that the other staff members have gone through. But my friends, co-workers, and a few strangers went absolutely bananas over it. As I was fueling, one guy asked to take some pics. "Go ahead and sit in it," I said. When he was finished, he looked like a kid who just opened his Christmas presents. And when I was rolling on Melrose, one guy saw the window was down, and shouted while smiling, "Hey, are you Ironman?" I just smiled and pointed to him. A female friend, begged for -- and got -- a ride.
July 21, 2008
It has taken me a while, but I've found a flaw in our long-term 2008 Audi R8. When the car is equipped with the R-tronic transmission, as ours is, you push the shifter to upshift and pull it back to downshift. That's backassward. When you're upshifting, you're accelerating, so you should pull the lever. And when your downshifting, you're decelerating, so you should push the lever. That's how it's been in race cars for years.
Oddly, only Mazda and BMW get this right, even in their SUVs. The shifters in both our long term BMW X5 and Mazda CX-9 are as they should be, while the shifters in all our other cars, including the Cadillac CTS, Pontiac G8 GT and Hyundai Veracruz are backassward.
I know, I know, use the Audi's paddle shifters and the problem is solved, but I'm old school and still like to reach down and feel the action of the R8's aluminum shifter.
July 08, 2008
I can tell that our Daytona Gray Pearl 2008 Audi R8 looks pretty intimidating on the highway by the way most of the left lane squatters skedaddle out of the way upon our approach.
Some motorists switch lanes even if it means falling in behind a slow-moving semi to get out of our path. And one time a Silverado 2500 almost switched lanes in front of us as we were cruising along, saw us in his driver side mirror and then moved back to his original position in the other lane as if to say, "Oops, pardon," he didn't want to get in our way. That NEVER happens.
But with all its badass looks, the R8 is still awfully comfortable and roomy inside. After 800 miles when the novelty of being in the supercar sorta mellowed, I settled into its high-quality Tuscan Brown leather seat, had my iced grande latte at the ready in the center cupholder, stretched out my legs and almost felt like I was sitting at home in my leather armchair. That is until I looked up and saw Mt. Shasta passing quickly by outside my window.
July 05, 2008
Who would be dumb enough to take our long term 2008 Audi R8 on a six-day, 2,300 mile road trip?
Last time I drove an Audi R8, I proclaimed to those in our office whom would listen (thanks Mr. Goldfish) that the car is compliant and comfortable enough that one could drive it across the country without a moment's hesitation.
So now I'm putting that claim to the test. I'm taking it on a roadtrip to Seattle and back with a few stops along the way to visit family and to explore some cool roads.
First things first. Need to pack. How much stuff can you put in a mid-engine two seater? Turns out not much. The two duffels pictured above hold the brunt of stuff for two people and six days.
They fit quite nicely in the R8's trunk along with a gift for my sister, and there's at least two cubic centimeters left over:
June 18, 2008
You want proof it's hot in Nawlins? Well, here it is. But at least it's really freakin' humid.
But there's good news too... The Audi R8's air conditioning is up to it. In fact, it hasn't broken a sweat keeping us from breaking a sweat. With the system on Auto and set at 68 degrees, we are perfectly comfortable inside our $132,000 supercar.
By the way, we found out what the beads are for. Nawlins rocks.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 7,542 miles
June 17, 2008
Delta flight 936 dumps us in Atlanta on time and in one piece. Now all we need is a car. A car with air conditioning. They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing... Temperatures are near the 100 mark, with the humidity approaching 5,000,000 percent.
Audi told us the machine of our dreams would be waiting for us at a place called Park 'N Fly Plus. The instructions were clear. "After claiming your baggage," the email said, "follow the sign to Ground Transportation at the west end of the baggage claim concourse. The bus that will take you to your car will be parked toward the far left end of the second row of courtesy buses."
And it is. And our Daytona Gray Pearl Audi R8 is waiting for us as promised as well, tank full of 94 octane (gotta love the East Coast), tires shined like patent leather, its odometer showing 7,041 miles.
We packed light in anticipation of the Audi's slight 3.5 cubic feet of cargo room. Good thing. Our bare minimum for four days of living on the road fill the car's nose trunk and the small shelf behind the seats.
"Is that the car from iRobot?" asks the Park 'N Fly Plus guy.
It's a conversation we'll have many times over the next 3,000 miles. Should be a fun trip. Crank the A/C, let's go. Looks like we got a clear shot all the way to the 'Bama state line.