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Audi R8 quattro a quick study – The Boston Globe

My father-in-law (who lives in cape Cod 1/2 the year) forwarded us this review from the Globe.

When it comes to the world’s most expensive and fastest high performance cars, it is not uncommon for me to first test them on a race course – a place where many people who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy such cars never go.

Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Audi R8
© 2007 | Corey Beaman | Audi R8 @ 2007 Petit Le Mans

Later, I test them for daily driving on public roads. It’s an adrenaline downshift from the track, but one that keeps blue lights out of the rearview mirror and also answers the question: Is this kind of car suitable for everyday use?

After finishing up with today’s test model, the 2008 Audi R8 quattro, the answer is a resounding yes – as long as you’re not trying to haul lumber or a family of seven’s groceries for the week, or even a family of more than two.

On the race course outside Washington, D.C., recently, the R8 was incredibly fast, perfectly centered, and steered as responsively as any car I’ve driven. Its mid-engine build gives it a far different feel from my other favorite everyday high-performance driver, the 2008 Porsche Twin Turbo all-wheel-drive.

The Audi has an Italian-style smoothness while the Porsche exhibits a proper, taut feel. Not that either is bad – the two cars just have different automotive personalities.

The R8’s Italian feel comes from its close engineering ties to the Lamborghini Gallardo (Audi owns Lamborghini). So while Audi tries to compete with Porsche and Ferrari, it will have to keep its two thoroughbreds from kicking each other on the backstretch. But this certainly has a silkier ride than the lurching and powerful Gallardo.

The fact that both are all-wheel-drive gives them an advantage on New England roads in poor weather conditions. But all-wheel-drive also helps with launching, road feel, and handling. And with the Audi’s quattro system designed to shift power to the rear wheels when needed, it beats the understeer (plowing through a turn) often common to all-wheel-drive.

A six-speed manual gearbox is available, as well as Audi’s R tronic automatic/manual transmission, which can be let loose on its own or be shifted using paddles on the steering wheel. I preferred the paddles since it was easier to avoid the ‘hesitation’ that came between upshifts in auto mode.

The automatic ‘blipping’ of the gas at each downshift is an attention-getter. Blipping raises engine rpms and makes for a smoother downshift – and in the case of the R8, it makes for a booming announcement of the car’s presence.

The noise, through quad exhausts in the broad and looming rear, comes from a 4.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower and 317 lb-ft. of torque that seems endless. Matching finned ducts front and rear give the car’s wide stance even more presence, and the engine-under-glass at the rear draws the curious anywhere it is parked.

Well-leathered and bolstered, the interior is obviously Audi, superb in function, rich in subtle detail.

On the road, with its sensitive steering, absolute grip as hard as you can safely push on a public road, this is a perfectly designed, executed, and balanced car. And to think that a V-10 super model may be on the way.

Porsche Twin Turbo or Audi R8? That’s like asking, Faulkner or Hemingway?”

R8 quattro a quick study – The Boston Globe

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