Based on the Lamborghini Gallardo platform, the Audi R8 totes a naturally aspirated 4.2L DOHC 32-valve V8 found in the B7 (2006-present) Audi RS4, but sporting a curb weight 120 kg lighter than the 1680 kg RS4. Mated to the 425 hp/430 NM engine is a six-speed single clutch semiautomatic gearbox (that PGA Cars calls R-Tronic) that allows for faster shifts than an orthodox manual 'box. Going forward requires either an upward (for upshifts) or downward (for downshifts) motion of the stick, or paddles behind the steering wheel. For those who want the numbers crunch on the car, recent tests by the US-based Motor Trend magazine claim that the R8 has a 0-100 kph time of 3.9 seconds, a 0-160 kph time of 10.1 seconds, and a quarter mile (roughly 400-plus meters) time of 12.5 seconds. Oh, and a 1.01g lateral acceleration measurement, too.
Speaking of cornering, the R8 is also a monster on turns. Its Quattro all wheel drive, coupled with Pirelli P Zero 235/35ZR19 91Y tires and an ultra low stance give it an unparalleled cohesion of stability and razor-sharp handling, making it arguably the one sports car that one can label as having the ability to "corner on rails." But the Audi comfort factor is there, with its magneto rheological dampers (also found on its TT Coupe sibling) that have magneto rheological fluid, which is controlled by a magnetic field via an electromagnet. This allows the damping characteristics of the shock absorber to be continuously controlled by varying the power of the electromagnet, providing soft or firm ride characteristics when needed.
Safety is paramount with all sports cars, and the R8 is no different. The Brembo calipers, coupled with the massive drilled rotors on all four wheels, are sure to provide great stopping power. There's a hill hold assist feature that keeps the R8 stationary on steep inclines, and the parking system (with rear camera) is great for parallel parking maneuvers. The LED (light emitting diode) display is brighter than most roadgoing production vehicles, according to PGA Cars.
Inside, it's all typical sports car – you sit low and you have to bend your head on ingress and egress (due to the low roofline), but merely an irritant compared to the glory of the open road. Everything is within reach of the driver, and the sport seats coupled with the snug Nappa leather keep you planted on your bum constantly. Starting the car requires you to throw the stick to the rightmost side, depress the middle pedal (there's no left pedal, mind you), and twist the key. Once the ignition sets off the V8's throaty growl, it's a thrill like no other.
The interior features are given considering the P10.8 million tag, but the quality is topnotch. Black Alcantara leather dashboard inserts complement the black interior colorway, and the Bluetooth-ready Bang and Olufsen audio system clarity rivals that of the Bose units on the outgoing Audi A4s. The brushed aluminum pedals and inserts give the interior a futuristic look, and the side mirrors have power-assisted folding, too.
Audi has always produced great cars, but if there was one car that at present greatly defines the Audi vorsprung durch technik (advancement through technology) ethos, the R8 is definitely it. An appearance in a much-anticipated (and much successful) 2008 movie based on a Marvel comic about a fast, state-of-the-art red-and-gold battle suit operated by a rich, alcoholic, genius-level technophile helps a lot also.