2008 Audi R8

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$109,000

starting MSRP

2008 Audi R8

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

1 trim

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2008 Audi R8 review: Our expert's take

By Tom Strongman


The all-wheel-drive R8 is Audi’s flagship sports car and, as such, it is a statement that the company is capable of building a car that challenges cars such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and Lamborghini Gallardo, and does so at a lower price.

Even though the R8 went on sale last fall, it is already on the way to becoming a sports car icon.

The R8’s base price of $109,000 is less than the Porsche and Lamborghini. The test car was equipped with the R tronic automatic transmission that adds $9,000 to the base price.

It might seem foolish to write about this car when gasoline is $4 a gallon and the economy is slow, but when the Audi folks offered an R8 from its press pool for a week, I couldn’t resist.

Aside from its traffic-stopping looks, the key to the R8 is the 4.2-liter, 420-horsepower V-8 nestled under its back glass. This high-revving engine has an 8,250-rpm redline that begs to be unleashed, and the six-speed manual transmission is the perfect mate.

The R tronic is a six-speed manual with an automatic clutch, and it’s not nearly as smooth or quick-shifting as Audi’s DSG unit. Slip the gear lever into manual mode, shift it with the paddles on the steering wheel and the car begins to feel almost as lively as the six-speed manual

Audi says the R8 can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, and it has a top track speed of 187 mph.

The engine is quite tractable in spite of the fact that it revs so high. It is docile in city traffic, yet it bellows with authority and a rush of speed when you nail the throttle. Fuel economy is rated at 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 on the highway.

Audi displayed an R8 powered by a 6.0-liter, 500-horsepower diesel engine at the Detroit auto show in January. Given that diesel engines are extremely popular in Europe and that fuel economy would improve by about one-third, the R8 LeMans could well make it into production.

The R8 has stunning styling. The nose is low and wide. The body is stretched tightly over the chassis and the 19-inch wheels. The side blade behind the doors punctuates the R8’s design and is intended to be a visual break that makes the car look smaller. The blade on some R8s is a brightly contrasting color, but the black test car’s dark-gray blade was subtle.

Last fall, I drove an R8 on a tiny track set up in the parking lot of FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The course was tight enough that we weren’t able to shift beyond second gear, but it was great for demonstrating the R8’s road holding and balance. Even with the traction control disengaged, it was possible to floor the throttle coming out of sharp turns in second gear and not slide sideways.

Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is a key reason for the R8’s impressive traction in turns. Depending on conditions, between 10 and 35 percent of the power is delivered to the front wheels. That makes the R8 feel like a rear-wheel-drive car, yet sending small amounts of drive to the front wheels enhances stability.

The powerful brakes withstood hours of abuse on the tiny track without complaint.

In spite of its low wedge shape, the R8 has a surprisingly roomy cabin. It is 75 inches wide, 49.3 inches tall and 174.5 inches long. The wheelbase is 104.3 inches.

The R8’s cabin is not only spacious but also beautifully designed. The gauges sit in individual pods, surrounded by a single arch that is intended to mimic a single-seat racer. The seats offer excellent support.

Luggage space under the front hood is small, but it will hold a couple of duffel bags. There is also room behind the front seats for a briefcase or backpack.

The R8 feels relaxed and at home in city traffic. The suspension is firm, yet it is compliant enough to be comfortable on everyday roads. Audi uses adaptive shock absorbers with magnetic fluid, and they can change ride characteristics in milliseconds. The driver can choose standard or sport mode.

Price The test car’s base price was $118,000 with the gas-guzzler tax, navigation system and R-Tronic automatic transmission. Options included a Bang & Olufsen sound system, leather seats, parking sensors, Bluetooth phone preparation and six-disc CD changer. The sticker price was $134,545.

Warranty Four years or 50,000 miles.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior design 4.6
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.3
  • Exterior styling 4.9
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Sexiest car I’ve ever owned!

Sexiest car I have ever owned! I love driving this car! It’s a manual transmission and she is not only beautiful she is fast! Never fails to please me when I get in it.

3.0

Just the LOOK

Owned couple sport cars, I would say this R8 has the most Exterior Styling*, vs power I believe the R-tronic Transmission is garage delay not responsing when it needs to. ONE advise if you are buying this car PLEASE either buy brand new one or buy with CPO **cerfied** or elc it would be painful to visit the dealer and the Money out of your packet would be more then you expected.

3.3

lock up

i own an audi all i can say that you bay a sport audi without warranty factory warranty your throwing your money in garbage plus they brake down often don't get me wrong they are all season cars and good in rain or snow but the parts and labor will kill the Valium and the packets as well...

See all 7 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
48 months/50,000 miles
Corrosion
144 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
48 months/50,000 miles
Roadside assistance
48 months/unlimited distance

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