There will be nothing critical in this review.
I should probably recuse myself from even writing about the 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI V-10 because I love this car.
I will not be fair and balanced or even objective because life behind the wheel of the R8 5.2 FSI is one viewed through a rose-colored windshield. I am the Fox News of car reviews today for conservative drivers and MSNBC for those who lean so far left they're actually facing backwards.
Oh, there are probably a few bad things that could be said about this supercar. I didn't test the R tronic sequential manual/automatic transmission, which is abysmal on the V-8 model. And if I had $10 in my pocket, I'd only need $145,990 more to buy the base model.
So why review it? First of all, it's my job, and second of all, Audi handed me the keys. Trust me, if Audi came to you and offered you a chance to drive around a more powerful R8, you'd figure out how to take out a second mortgage for a week's worth of gas. (Technically, the R8 5.2 FSI gets 20 miles per gallon on the highway, but that's only if you drive it like a girly man. I barely managed 11 mpg after repeated acceleration drills along Lafayette Boulevard.) I may not have thought the R8 needed two more cylinders -- eight seemed plenty enough for the mid-engine supercar. But I was wrong, this car is so good it brings out the bad in you.
Wrap a halo around this devil, tie it in a bow, and hit the gas -- 3.7 seconds later, you're getting a speeding ticket.
There are lots of facts and figures I could include on the newest R8 to join Audi's growing family. There's the all-wheel drive system that lets the R8 pass cars from impossible angles. It's not surefooted; it takes corners like a life-sized Tyco slot car -- you can hit 90 degree city corners at 40 mph with surgical precision -- well, maybe not surgical, but try that in a Mustang. Audi's magnetic ride active dampening system allows you to fine tune the aluminum double wishbone suspension to near perfection.
The car gods must be German. After all, it's one of the few countries with a highway system that dares you to go faster -- and the R8 V-10 has a top speed of 196.4 mph -- though in Germany it sounds better to say 316 kilometers per hour. Why else would Audi encase the 525-horsepower V-10 in glass, if not to provide the automotive overseers a chance to glimpse down at that direct injection piece of mechanical madness. Das ist gut.
Freakish museum piece There's something freakishly cool about the elongated body. The 104.3-inch wheelbase looks as if it stretches much farther. The car looks disproportionate but right at the same time. There's an awkward curiosity; you look at the R8 the same way you might stare at a person 8 feet tall. You're going to tell someone about it later.
Audi has added a few more special touches to this R8. The LED headlamps, both high beam and low beam, as well as the LED brow that has become an Audi signature, are standard on the R8 5.2 FSI. They are pieces of art. The whole front end should be cast in bronze and put in the Louvre for future generations. And the bulging backside looks like a space ship with its dual oval exhaust pipes and black swaths of plastic connecting everything.
There's even some subtle symbolism in the 2010's R8's design: Each daytime running light uses 24 LEDs and there are 24 vents surrounding the engine cover. Audi has 24 wins at LeMans. Coincidence? I think not.
A car made for drivers And it's no accident that the R8 is so comfortable. The black leather seats and leather-covered dash seem a little cold and mechanical. The silver aluminum trim throughout the cabin carries that theme forward. This is not a warm and fuzzy kind of cabin; it's designed for the driver, a serious one at that.
The open-face plate for the six-speed manual transmission exposes each gate and it looks like a machined rib cage. It rewards the driver with a frozen click with every gear shift.
Even the MMI system, a single wheel-like switch on the center console, allows the driver to remotely move through the car's controls quickly. Once you learn how to use it, you never have to look down at the buttons to find what you need.
There are the typical features you'd expect from a luxury supercar: Bluetooth connectivity, back up camera, and even a Bang & Olufsen 465-watt 12-speaker sound system. It feels luxurious through and through.
Like any other supercar, there isn't much room. There's a small trunk under the hood -- enough room for a gym bag -- and some room behind the two seats.
Everywhere you drive the R8, people will look. It's inevitable. How can they not? With its growling engine and daytime running lights, this car stands out -- among the reasons a person buys it. Everyone seems to love it.
Now, there is one person in greater Metro Detroit who may not care for the R8.
He was driving next to me along Woodward Avenue, no doubt staring at me cruising up to Ferndale. What he wasn't looking at was the car stopped at the traffic light in front of him.
Poor guy, he was driving an Audi too.
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2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI V-10
Type: Two-passenger, all-wheel drive supercar
Engine: 5.2-liter direct injection V-10
Power: 525 horsepower, 391-pound-feet torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual or R tronic sequential manual
EPA gas mileage: (manual) 12 mpg city / 20 mpg highway; (R tronic) 13 mpg city / 20 mpg highway
Exterior: Excellent. Long, low body gives the R8 a distinctive look. It looks like a supercar because it is a supercar.
Interior: Excellent. Spacious and comfortable, the interior may feel cold to some passengers, but it focuses on the driver.
Performance: Super excellent. Balanced, taut suspension and powerful engine mounted over the rear axle make this car feel like a race car.
Pros : Beautiful sports car that remains one of the best cars for the money.
Cons: It requires a lot of money.
**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor