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by Jim Corbran
If you’re thinking the shape looks slightly familiar, you wouldn’t be far off if the next words out of your mouth were “Porsche 911.” The folks from Ingolstadt must have had the Porsche folks from Stuttgart in mind when they designed the R8. After all, it’s got that low, swoopy shape which, at least from the rear quarter view, is very 911-like. And isn’t the 911 the one sports car that we’ve all come to think of as at least slightly attainable? At least when compared to the likes of Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. But look closely at the photo. That front quarter view still looks familiar, but—wait a minute, do we detect some Italian sports car in the mix? Come to think of it, doesn’t Audi now own the legendary Lamborghini line of sexy, mid-engine Italian supercars?
Well, right you are. And the R8 is Audi’s first production mid-engine sports car. And although it doesn’t have the screaming V-10 of a Lamborghini, it does have a formidable V-8 behind the front seats. At 4.2 liters, it’s not huge by any stretch of the imagination. But it does put out 420 horsepower, and its peak torque of 317 ft.-lbs. is available from 4,500-6,000 rpm. In other words, punch the gas at almost any speed and you’ll take off in a blur. Not that I’m advocating reckless driving; I’m just telling you that, yes, if you need to get around that slowpoke quickly, you can. Audi claims zero to 62 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. Zero to 125 shouldn’t take you more than 14.7 seconds. And if you’re in a real hurry, you should reach top speed of 185, from a standstill, in just over a minute. If you really must ask, fuel consumption should average out around 17 miles per gallon.
Before you go heading over to the local Audi dealer, be aware that the R8 won’t go on sale in the US until next fall. It was just unveiled at the Paris auto show, and will go on sale in Europe in the spring. Audi expects to build only 15 cars a day, so I’m giving you ample time to get yourself on the waiting list to, perhaps, stuff one in your sweetie’s stocking for Christmas 2007. Plan ahead, I always say.
You may just need that extra time to save up. Expect US prices to be around the $100,000 mark. Besides exclusivity, what does one get for a hundred grand these days? One of my favorite features is the headlights. Not so much for the design—which is cool, by the way—but more for Audi’s colorful description of that design: It “…has a design reminiscent of an open pine cone.” An open pine cone. Wow. One really neat thing in the lighting department is the fact that you have the option of ordering the entire range of headlighting functions as LED units. It not only looks neat but is more compact, and is capable of projecting more of the light where you need it. The interior, with its far-forward position, is roomy for a car its size. Transmissions are a manual six-speed or optional AudiTronic sequential-shift gearbox, console-mounted, with steering wheel paddle controls. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard via Audi’s tried-and-true quattro system. A rearview camera assists in parking; Bang & Olufsen provides a 12-speaker, 465-watt sound system; and you’ll get to where you’re going courtesy of a navigation system with full-color, large-format monitor. Stopping and going are via 18-inch aluminum wheels and ABS brakes. And you’ll be sitting enveloped in an all-aluminum body which not only looks great but won’t rust.
Which, at this price, seems just about right.
More information at www.audiusa.com.
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v5n47: "You've Got to Keep Moving..." (11/22/06) > Audi Doozy
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