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Audi R8
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Year: 2007
Class: Supercar
Type: Coupe
 
Host: GT5
Country: Germany
 
Price: 166,700 (R8 4.2 FSI R Tronic)
 
Construction: magnesium-aluminum body on aluminum space frame chassis
 
Length: 174.4"
Width: 75.0"
Height: 44.17"
Wheelbase: 104.3"
Overhang: 5 feet 10 inches
Track: 64.3" [F] 62.7" [R]
Ground Clear: n/a
 
Layout: mid engine / all-wheel drive
Weight: 3,438 pounds
Wgt. Dst: 44 / 56
 
Steering: electronic rack & pinion
Tires: 235/40 R-18 [F], 285/35 R-18 [R]
Suspension, Front & Rear: dual wishbones, coils, electronic shocks, anti roll bar
Brakes: vented discs
 
Engine: 4.2 liter DOHC V8
Construction: aluminum/silicon alloy
Aspiration: natural 
Fuel Syst: direct injection
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.33 x 3.65"
Compression: 12.5:1
 
Starting Hrsepwr: 402 @ 7,500
Starting Torque: 307 @ 4,500
 
Break-in Hrsepwr: 413 @ 7,500 
Break-in Torque:   316 @ 4,500
 
Credits per HP: 403.63
Pounds per HP: 8.32
Pnds per Torq:  10.88
HP per Liter:     99.2
 
Idle: 750 // Redline: 8,250 // RPM Limit: 8,500
 
Transmission: electronic 6-speed manual
Differential: electronic front + rear, viscous center
 
No track testing is available at this time.
 

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----------EXTERIOR / HISTORY----------

What do you get when you blend a Lamborghini with an Audi?  We get to find out.
 
Just imagine it's 2007 again, and we're at a sidewalk cafe. The world economy is crap, many stockholders are folding, and a variety of upper-bracket sorts are sitting around, reading how bad things are going in their Wall Street Journals and Economic Reports. Somebody orders a latte. Another fellow complains he wanted Iow-fat  in his cappuccino, not no-fat. A BMW pulls up to the curb. Yawn. It's a 3-series. Doesn't turn a head. A Mercedes parks right behind. Nobody bats an eye. But then, another German car shows up, but this one causes everybody to take a glance; some with curiosity, and some with nerves. What the heck is that?      
 
This review currently focuses on the Audi R8 4.2 FSI-R Tronic, but there are some even more powerful versions of the same car available, also from GT5's Premium car lot: the most obvious one  being the 5.2 V10 Quattro. There are some racing versions of this car as well, but this review shall only focus on the ones we can legally drive on streets. Ready?   
 
The R8 was an interesting move for Audi when it first appeared in 2006, in the sense that there has never been another Audi like this one before. Not even close. Audi has done the boxy-car thing, the sedan, the wagon, even the crossover SUV. The closest we might see from prior examples is the TT. The R8 resembles a TT with its low-slung, bubbly shape, but is miles, actually light-years ahead of the TT. If the Audi TT is like a New Beetle on a bottle of steroids, then the R8 is like a TT on a whole carton of them.
 
The R8 is also unique because it's a blend of Audi and Lamborghini: the Lamborghini Gallardo's aluminum monocoque chassis is what the R8 is based upon, and it's because of this aluminum chassis that the R8 is somewhat lighter than many other all-wheel drive super-machines. The first edition of R8 in our game, the 4.2, gets a 100-horsepower weaker engine than the R8 5.2 FSI Quattro. Despite this, the 4.2 is no slacker, as we shall soon see. This is the first GT5 car review I've ever written without any track testing, and it's because my old PS3 died this past summer, but we can assume this car would .... do very well, just like its real-life  versions.  
 
First shown at the 2003 Geneva Auto Show, the R8 is a safer, middle-ground sort of sports car than that Lambo. Real-life reviews have made note of the fact that the R8 is one of this new breed of 'Supercar': easy on fuel and mannerisms in everyday traffic, but a real devil once the issues are forced. When driven around quiet suburbs, the Audi doesn't feel as brutal as it can be on those highways.   
 
The interior is a respectable blend of 'sports' and typical Audi features. The red LED-lit dash cluster, for instance, is shared with plenty of other Audis costing much less than the R8. By the time I get to see one of these clusters in my shop, half the LED display is usually going dull, ABS and Check Engine lights are both on, and the owner is not particularly worried. But in this R8, everything works.
 
We've got a very useful tachometer (easy to read), which of course, is the best part of the cluster for us. The speedometer is a bit cramped with km/h figures, and personally I never use it, not even at-a-glance, so it's a good thing that tach is so visible. Even when the tach is not being gazed upon for shifting, the R8's mid-mounted engine is loud; right behind our ears. It's always easy to know when to shift gears. Also in the cluster we've got all the other typical gauges found in many others: engine coolant temperature, oil pressure, etc. Stuff we never have to worry about in our virtual world.
 
I drove this car completely stock around a few tracks, switched to GT5's Supercar Festival, and finally wound up taking the R8 all the way to the GT World Cup. This should provide a nice range of experiences, right?
 

---------- ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-------------

The 4.2 comes equipped with a 402 horsepower 4.2 liter V8 from day one, which begins 12 horsepower short than the dealer-quoted 414. It took about 177 miles to break this car's engine in. There's little to criticize here...
 
This car features FSI (Fuel Stratified Ignition) which is proudly displayed in its name, right after 'R8'. This seems to be the latest trend in badge and fender advertisements. Way back when, American cars proudly displayed engine sizes, the bigger the better. During the '70s and '80s, it became a trend to (instead) display something more practical; now it was cool to say 'Fuel-Injected' or 'TURBO'. And now, we have the terms 'Hybrid' or 'Eco-something' slapped up on many a fender. In this sense, Audi is at least taking us back to the dirty truth; all these cars still use petroleum-based power, but at least the R8 is going for a new take on how it's delivered.    
 
As a small-block V8, the 4.2 has got a different philosophy than a lot American V8s--mostly it's a lack of lower-end torque. This engine is more about going fast smoothly than going fast brutally. There are pluses and minuses here.
 
A quick plus: It's easy to get power down, and we don't have to be especially careful about giving full throttle. The minus side: if we're about to leave a corner that the car previously left behind (and felt most comfortable with) in 2nd gear, we'd better not experiment by shifting up to 3rd. This engine is not about raw force, it's more about proper delivery. The 4.2 seems as though it'll be a wide-horsepower engine (when looking at its power results on paper) but in practice this one's a bit narrow; no more than 2,000 to 2,500 rpms can be utilized, once we're out of 1st gear. But if those revs are kept above 6,000 or so, there shouldn't be any problems with rocketing off.  
 
The V8's engine note, its sounds, are loud and serious, but not really soul-stirring. Twisting up from lower revs (3,000 or so) does allow us to hear a nice range of tonalities, though. Switch exhausts, and things get a little more generic, but this is not to say this car's exhaust / engine sounds wimpy, or something. It always sounds good.
 
A Stage 1 turbo is not available for purchase, oddly, but a Stage 3 is. At max, we've got
 
The transmission is a 6-speed paddle-shifted electronic box known as a 'Tiptronic' (another term to slap on those fenders, ha ha). During the R8's debut, there was one other tranny offered: an old-fashioned 6-speed manual. I would have preferred the manual, but whatever. The Tiptronic is technically better, though I've read that real-life versions are sometimes sluggish with their shifts. This is something I'm not noticing in the game though.
 
Again, there's little to criticize while the car is stock, but during the World Cup (when the car had 558 hp at max) I found the engine was going deep into redline area during that first race at Sarthe, down this track's very long straight areas in 6th gear. The car never hit its peak, even while drafting down the Mulsanne, but it was still something to take notice of and worry about. Other than that, the previous 5 gears are all nicely-spaced -- a perfect combination of acceleration and overall speed. Second gear provies some nice stomp factor, and 1st can be used as a convenient engine brake.
 
One of the best features we've seen in previously-reviewed Audis?  The way they handle some tracks.  
 

 

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--------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------


I recently learned that when subway cars come to a stop, their brakes are simply forced all the way. The braking-force required to bring a 85,000 pound subway car to a full stop is so large, there simply is no option to 'feather' these brakes. To do so would require a very long time, and it's much more important to get all the braking done in as quick a manner as possible, therefore people get to work  (or wherever the heck they're going) on time, and schedules can be as predictable as moon phases.  
 
I haven't driven the Gallardo much, so as I drove the R8 I found myself comparing it to the 2007 Nissan GT-R instead, since both cars feature all-wheel drive. I described the GT-R as 'mechanical but souless', like a very efficient robot on four wheels. The GT-R's handling is damn-near flawless, so far as its all-wheel drive traction & cornering goes, and this is one of those cars that does everything just about perfect. The R8, on the other hand, is not quite so. But this is not necessarily a criticism.
 
The R8 is similar to the GT-R in several ways: flawless traction is at the top of the list. The R8 also has that AWD 'on-rails' feeling, assuming the car is turned-in safely (more on this later) and surely. But in a couple ways, the R8 feels a bit more animalistic than the 'robot-like' GT-R.
 
The Audi has all-wheel drive, true, and power can automatically be thrown from the rear to the front via a viscous center differential. The Nissan does all this as well, although it does it in a different manner. The main difference is those Skylines often put way more of an emphasis on rearward-power than the R8 does. At default, the R8 has 30% of its power going to those front wheels / 70% rear. Nissan likes to use a model of 10 / 90 if I recall correctly.
 
The other difference is engine layout. The Audi's mid engine is barely noticed at first, until we get too hot into some turns!  As the rear gets skewed with body-sway on occasion, the car's extra rear weight can cause some mighty twitches here and there. Nothing like we'd experience in an NSX, but similar. It's this car's massive rear tires + all-wheel drive that keep the R8 from becoming truly difficult.
 
So what's much more difficult than oversteer?  Heh heh, you guessed it.
 
Understeer is definitely this car's worst enemy, especially while the car's stock hard sport tires are equipped. It was a little shocking, to be honest, the way this car pushes. It's not that the R8 pushes, plenty of AWD cars push, it's how much the R8 pushes. And it's also the way this car (once it is pushing) gets into a rather hopeless sort of state. Some cars, like the Nissan GT-R, can wind up understeering if we go too far. The problem with the R8 is sometimes it will push even if it seems we haven't gone that far. Understeer shows up a little too easily in this 'Supercar', and once it shows up, it doesn't just go away with a throttle-release or a brake-tap.   
 
 I've seen several episodes of Top Gear lately, in which Jeremy somehow manages to get the R8's rear hot with throttle-induced oversteer, so I'd like to know how the hell he's able to do this? Because all I've seen is pushing in my virtual gold-colored R8.
 
Now granted, this sort of behavior can be avoided. Audi has provided us some very effective brakes, and we wouldn't expect anything less, right?  Use these early and well, and understeer will be minimal. But (like I said) it shows up a little too easily. This car's not very tossable at all into a variety of turns, not with its stock tires, anyway. 
 
Assuming the braking zone is utilized properly though, and the R8 will turn in with a very firm limit. At this moment it's now yet another AWD on rails. But mess up that braking zone? Bad idea. Experiment with some tighter cornering lines on-the-fly? Another bad idea.  
 
BMWs (M3 and M5), and the latest GT-R have some of the best damage-control policies on the planet. If we get too hot into turns, these cars will still work with us. The Audi R8's damage control, in comparison, seems like a poorly-funded inner-city program. This car does NOT like it when we mess up, entry or exit.
 
Another issue is body roll. As I drove this one in the Supercar Festival, and also the World Cup race at Sarthe, the R8's suspension was stock, which means its coils set to 6.0 kg/mm front and back. This car's electromagnetic shocks might please many a yuppy, as they balance between comfortable and firm, but as the car was actually raced it was obvious they've barely got control of the sprung weight above them; this Audi's all over the place with its leaning, more like a sedan than a coupe. However, note that the words 'barely got control' don't mean they're completely awful at their job. I managed a win during that first race, after all. But once we got to Nurburgring, I opted for height-adjustable parts, and firmer coils all around.
 
Other than that, there's not much to criticize in the handling department. Perfect traction out of turns has been an Audi forte for years now, and this car is no different; it's just much faster about it than an A4 or a TT. I have yet to use any sort of limited-slip device or power-delivery transaxle for the R8, even during the World Cup. The R8's viscous center differential, matched with electronic-locking diffs front and rear, already has things under control. Only if fully-powered might some driver need to begin messing with any aftermarket parts here, but this would be some sort of attempt at nit-picking, perhaps. 
 
The car's steering is a little stiff, as many all-wheel drives are, but its mid-engine also allows us some interesting abilities to safely 'twitch' that rear-end if we come down from high speed. This car's 'inner city' damage control downright sucks, but it's high-speed, uptown policies are great, especially once the car's stock tires are improved to medium or soft sports. The R8 allows us some amazingly confident behaviors when we brake it down from high speed, (smokey-tire trail-braking for instance) and in this way it doesn't feel quite as precise,  mechanical, and soulless as the Nissan GT-R.
 
At low-speed, understeer is definitely painful. At high-speed, it's exciting!  For even if the R8's front-end is pushing as we brake down from (let's say 120 mph), the car always at least turns. And while it's turning, all four wheels can get into an all-around slide which is loads of fun if you've got the track-space and confidence. 
 
Overall, the Audi R8 is for that customer of cars which wants a little bit of it all: European quality, the safety of all-wheel drive, and the surety of modern V8 (or V10) power. Though it's a little too cumbersome and posh for those tracks at times, it's easy to say that the R8 has certainly put Audi on the supercar map.  
 
  

PROS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
1). Lots of them, starting with the fact that the R8 is definitely a success. Perfect blend of German and Italian. But mostly German. No other German car-maker is producing anything similar to the R8, so uniqueness is a factor here.  
 
2). Not too pricey, considering all that we get, for what we pay. 
 
3). Not as heavy as some other modern supercars, despite its all-wheel drive. 
 
4). Top acceleration, enhanced by all-wheel drive traction. 
 
5). Lots of lateral grip while cornering. Audi has often been good with anything dealing with the word 'lateral' in our games. On the other hand, this Audi's mid-engine layout allows us the ability to break rear-end traction occasionally, which can be a PRO at times.  
 
6). Assuming understeer is avoided, the front-end is precise, and offers some options to allow us to dash around some other cars, at low or high-speed.   
 
7). Mid-engine layout can cause some interesting (and surprising) handling traits. Not all high-powered AWDs can offer the word 'surprising', nowadays. 
 
8). Though most of the gauges are difficult to read, the only one which really counts (the tachometer) is useful.
 
9). The brakes of a subway car! .... if we want them.
 
10). Awesome looks; like a spaceship come to land, yet this one is still clearly an Audi, not a Ferrari or a BMW M-series knock-off.    
 
CONS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
1). Yet another 'supercar', which falls short in many ways when compared to others....
 
2). ...starting with price. Though I just said this car's price doesn't bother me, there are others out there which cost less, and do more.
 
3). Typical all-wheel drive menaces, understeer most of all, plagues this car if brakes aren't fully utilized. If there's no understeer, the R8 often steers with typical AWD stiffness. Though this car possesses 'on-rails' AWD traction, this can easily get destroyed, as this R8 also displays understeer-while-exiting just as often as it does while entering.     
 
4). Not very exciting to drive, so far as its engine characteristics go. This one falls into the 'safe' category most of all, not the 'passionate' or 'edgy' category. Never does the V8-powered R8 feel like a car with over 400 horsepower under its hood, and I'm feeling like this will also be the case for the V10.   
 
5). Choose those gears wisely when exiting turns!  This one doesn't like anything lower than 6,000, unless we're zooming out in 1st gear.
 
6). Overall power gain (stock to fully-tuned) isn't all that great for the V8-powered version. We'll see if the V10 is any better in the future.
 
7). On the heavy side, and those pounds get felt most of all at tighter courses, trying to navigate around stubborn traffic.   
 
 
Published: January 16, 2015   

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