Over the past few years, Audi has undergone a major brand transformation. Once thought of as the quiet and conservative member of the German automotive family, Audi has set out to prove that it can compete with other luxury car brands such as BMW , and Mercedes. With the new Audi R8, Audi shows us that they are ready to leave a mark on the sport coupe segment.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to get track time in Audi's new prize at the Autobahn Country Club just south of Chicago, IL. At first glance, the R8 is 100% supercar with an incredibly low ground clearance, 19" wheels concealing enormous disc brakes, and an automatic rear spoiler that deploys at 75mph to keep the car on the ground. The mid-engine coupe uses the same 425hp 4.2L V-8 FSI engine that powers the RS4. But because of its improved aerodynamics and the use of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum in the body of the car, 0-60 mph acceleration is improved to 4.4 seconds with a top speed of nearly 190mph.
Those numbers are enough to impress even the most discriminating performance junkie. But after driving the car myself, I can safely say that's just the beginning of the story. Through the tight corners of the track, the R8 handles magnificently. Even in a steady rain, the R8 was firm and in control. It's not surprising that Quattro has been banned from nearly every major road racing series over the past 25 years. And Audi's FSI engine technology provides significant low-end torque to accelerate out of the turns.
To top it all off, the R8 is a surprisingly drive-able car. The interior is nicely appointed with navigation, bang & olufsen stereo, and comfortable leather upholstery. The engine has a nice throaty growl, but it's not deafeningly loud. In fact, if you can swing the $109,000 base price, this car could be a legitimate daily driver.
Combining cutting edge technology ("Vorsprung durch Technik") and undeniable sex appeal, Audi is showing the world that the R8 is the next big thing in the automotive world for sports coupes.
Head to your local Audi dealer for your own test drive of the R8.
Words: Justin Borgman