"Whoa! Is that the Iron Man car?"
I help teach young kids how to run, and when I pulled up to practice during the test week in the 2010 Audi R8
, that was the first question they asked. Even at their tender age they knew this car was something special.
And they didn't even know anything about the 525-horsepower, V-10 engine under the hood ... or in the trunk as the case may be.
I don't even know where to begin with this review other than to echo my young friends: Whoa!??Everything about the test car was something to love. From the shiny Brilliant Red paint to the optional Carbon Fiber Sigma exterior package ($8,100) to the sublime 6-speed manual transmission that was the key to heart-thumping joy.
I couldn't drive this car enough. So, I took my sister to and from work every day. And I met some friends for lunch out in the suburbs. And then I took a road trip from Chicago to Indianapolis.
And I could have kept on going.
Except for the whole I-had-to-fill-up-the-tank-3-times thing.
Then again, people who are going to spend $170K on a car, probably don't really care that there is a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax or that city/highway fuel economy is 12/20 mpg.
So, back to the car.
In addition to the suave and swoopy exterior lines and the gorgeous glass rear window exposing 10 cylinders of happiness, the extra carbon fiber optional inserts (totaling $15,350) added finesse to the overall good looks of the eye-catching R8
. A particular exterior favorite of mine were the mean, squinty headlights with the individual LED bulbs surrounding the larger lamp.
A serious downer, however, comes in those states like Illinois that require you to have a front license plate. Adding that cheap tin rectangle mars the entire front lines of the car. Thus, I think exceptions to the law should be made for the R8
. Failing that, if I had the money to buy the car, I think I'd just incur the fine if anyone could catch me to ticket me.
Dropping into the driver's seat is another joy waiting to happen-even before turning the key in the ignition. The cockpit is a visual delight with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and metal casing surrounding the 6-speed manual transmission. I loved the looks of the ridged metal on the gear shift, but if you ever happen to leave the R8
parked in the sun: OUCH!
The interior optional carbon fiber inserts add to the overall cockpit feel of the cabin, and in fact, they surround the driver's seat, isolating and encapsulating. All gauges and controls are within immediate and easy reach, and it's almost as though you merely have to think about adjusting something for it to happen.
The heavily bolstered seats ensconce you immediately, and though I was too thin to be surrounded by them, they provided me nice support during the long drive to and from Indy.
OK, I'm going to digress into a girly moment and my only minor complaint that probably doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Most of the time I drove this car, I was wearing running shoes or flat-soled sandals. But the one day I wore 3-inch heels, I had a small problem. I needed to move the seat back to accommodate the extra length and comfortably reach the gas and brake pedals. But in moving the seat back, I could no longer push the clutch all the way in.
That's it. The shoes came off, and I went back to driving in blissful glee.
The raw power included with the 5.2-liter FSI V-10 engine is both awesome and elegant. It has nice road manners in traffic, but it's also ready to roar-and leave-the world in the dust-with the slightest touch of the gas pedal.
When I say that driving this car was instant happiness, I'm not kidding. It was actually a kind of reflex action. It went something like this: Enter winding on ramp, hit the gas, hear the finely tuned exhaust note, zoom past every other car on the road. And insert instantaneous smile. Every time.
The steering was incredibly responsive with the slightest turn of the wheel creating lane changes and turns. And a little pressure to the gas pedal went a long, long way. Plus the quattro all-wheel drive system combined with the Audi
magnetic ride adaptive damping system had this car sticking to the road like glue on even the most curvaceous roads.
While the R8
was phenomenal on open roads (thank goodness for a 70 mph speed limit on I-65 in Indiana that allowed me to fudge a little with the speeding), you will feel every bump in the road. But I'd take that any day for a little slice of heaven.
The test car with the V-10 engine had a base price of $146,000 and it had pretty much everything you could possibly want in a car, including heated seats, automatic climate control, navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and 19-inch wheels.
In addition to all the optional carbon fiber, the test car added the enhanced leather package ($3,500) and black Alcantara headliner ($1,300).
I don't know what else to say other than this is far and away one of the coolest cars I've ever tested. I would say "I'll take two," but I'd have to sell my condo just to get one. Then again, I am small. I could live in an R8