Why it matters
Audi has a renowned racing background, and the mid-engine R8 truly embraces Audi's race car heritage. As with other manufacturer's flagship sports coupes, the R8 also represents this brand's premier opportunity to showcase its engineering abilities. The 100 horsepower-to-liter achievement is impressive, but with only 4.2 liters the R8 can't match the power of BMW's 500 horse, ten-cylinder M6. In terms of appearance and structure, however, the R8 shines. The exterior sheet metal, mid-engine placement with viewing window and a sophisticated space frame easily befit the six-figure price point. Renowned Quattro AWD is yet another ace in Audi's hand.
What's under the hood?
The 2008 Audi R8 is equipped with a 4.2-liter V8 engine capable of spinning to a lofty 8,250 rpm. Maximum horsepower of 420 occurs at 7,800 rpm, whereas 317 foot-pounds of peak torque is generated at 4,500 rpm. While this engine may seem like too high revving, Audi assures that 90 percent of maximum torque is available from 3,500 to 7,600 rpm. Direct fuel injection forgoes a manifold for mixing gasoline and air, while dry-sump lubrication keeps vital parts greasy when the cornering gets quicker. A six-speed manual is standard, and a sequential shift R tronic automatic is available. Quattro all-wheel-drive is engineered with a viscous coupling to distribute torque front and rear. Available magnetic ride control relies on electricity to vary shock absorber oil viscosity.
What it looks like
Striking is the best term suitable to describe the 2008 Audi R8's visual appearance. The signature trapezoidal front grille distinguishes this supercar as Audi brethren, while other styling cues communicate the Le Mans inspiration. Most conspicuous are the door mounted side scoops, whose exterior shells run vertically to the roofline. Optional LED headlights function in all formats (low, high, driving), a first for a production car. Xenons are also available. The mid-mounted engine is visible through the rear window and is highlighted by white LEDs. Bumper-enclosed exhaust outlets feature quad tips, and significant air venting ducts form the bases for both the head- and taillights. Inside, Audi's perfect execution is maintained, although this cockpit is even more driver-oriented than those of the sedans. A flat bottom steering wheel is a sporty touch and an entry/egress enabler.
Photos courtesy of Audi