What’s New: An all-new vehicle for 2008, the Audi R8 is a stunning 420 hp mid-engine winner that gets looks on the street and smiles at the track.
What We Think: Perhaps the first exotic we’ve driven that’s suitable for daily driving, the Audi R8 is comfortable to sit in, beautiful to look at and amazing to drive. With all-wheel-drive and 420 hp, the R8 is the smart man’s super car.
Audi R8 – 2008 Review: The proof is in the pudding. It’s a simple little adage that applies to countless aspects of our lives, especially as we head into 2008. Our brief respite has come to a screeching halt as yet another election year descends upon us, bringing along its barrage of finger-pointing, baby-kissing, and thoroughly Maybellined slew of polished candidates. With them come promises of world-changing proportions, miraculously achievable without raising taxes or having any ill effects on even one member of society.
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Car companies make bold claims as well, though much less extreme. Just last year, Audi suggested that it would no longer settle for its second-string status among mass-produced luxury brands. My inner cynic and skeptic mumbled something about not holding any breath. And then I tasted the pudding, so to speak. Among a host of Audi products is the 420-horsepower, all-wheel-drive 2008 R8 which will have track junkies and affluent commuters alike asking, “BMWho?” At nearly $115,000 to start, the R8 is pricey, yet for those lucky few who actually get one, the payoff comes in the way of unmistakable style, uncompromised handling coupled with everyday comfort, and ties to a renowned racing heritage.
The pudding has been tasted, and it is indeed sweet. Audi deserves less of my cynicism, but the politicians? Not a chance.
Audi has been showing what we’ve come to know as the R8 for a few years, with the vehicle’s first debut taking place in Europe in 2003. At that time, Audi dubbed it the Le Mans Concept, though for production the R8 name was borrowed from the brand’s five-time Le Mans 24 Hour race winner.
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The Basics: Model Mix
Shoppers hitting up their local Audi dealers for the all-new R8 should understand that their car of choice is about style and performance, not a long list of standard equipment. Among the essentials that come with each model are cruise control, 10-way power seats with power lumbar, leather and Alcantara upholstery, a single-zone climate control system, and a fairly basic sound system pushing 140 watts of power out of seven speakers. Sirius satellite radio service is also standard, as are a keyless entry system, an alarm system, and 19-inch alloy wheels and high-performance tires. There’s also rear defroster, which would be a thoughtful touch were it not for the fact that the small rear window is utterly useless regardless of weather conditions.
That list of features is all fine and good, but if you’re one of the few lucky buyers to actually land an R8 you’ll probably be interested in differentiating your ride with some choice options. First is Navigation Plus, which though it’s technically listed as an option is actually required on every R8 order. It includes an MP3 player and integrates Audi’s MMI central control system. Next are creature comfort upgrades, such as a special nappa leather package and a personalized interior option, and interior enhancements like a park assist system and a rockin’ 465-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with 12 speakers.
Technically, the 2008 Audi R8 starts at $109,000. Not bad for a super ride produced at a rate of 22 cars per day from Audi’s plant in Neckarsulm, Germany. The actual price is a bit higher, though we dare say still in the range that qualifies the R8 as a bargain. There’s the $1,000 destination charge, a $2,100 gas guzzler tax that’s due regardless of which transmission you choose, and the $2,000 Navigation Plus system that’s required with every R8 order. That all comes to $5,100, and when tacked onto the $109,000 base price, brings the R8’s starting sticker to $114,100. Opting for an R8 with the R Tronic automatic transmission will add $9,000 to the bottom line, bringing the starting bid to $123,100.
If there are still a few coins rattling around in that piggy bank, Audi has some enticing packages that might interest the R8 buyer. The $3,500 Premium Package adds the parking assist system with rearview camera, a six-disc CD changer, hill hold assist technology that’s a must in San Francisco, added storage, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. There are also two leather packages – for $2,000 Audi offers upgraded nappa upholstery, or for $5,500 one gets the nappa on the seats and doors plus black leather on the dash and center panels. Other options include a black Alcantara headliner ($1,300), a body color or Oxygen Silver sideblade ($1,000), an outstanding Bang & Olufsen sound system ($1,800), and metallic or pearl paint finishes ($650).