2009 Audi R8 Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Audi R8 If...

Audi's R8 is styled unlike anything else on the road, with sweeping arcs and muscular lines that are more suited to a concept car than a road-going one. Timeless architecture has truly taken the place of big wings and scoops, while luxury has replaced compromise inside the supercar cockpit.

You May Not Like The 2009 Audi R8 If...

If you opt for the R tronic transmission, know that this is not the same unit as Volkswagen/Audi's dual-clutch DSG gearbox. Shifts do take some time, and there is some computerized indecisiveness that can be annoying in traffic.

What's New

New standard features include a six-disc CD changer, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and Homelink.

Interior Features

Despite its clear performance intentions, not a stitch was spared in making the R8 interior every bit as luxurious and accommodating as those of Audi's high-dollar sedans. There are supportive 10-way adjustable Alcantara/leather seats with baggage space behind them, and the curvature of the roof allows ample headroom for tall occupants. Audi calls the driver-centered cockpit "Monoposto," which used to mean, roughly, "single-seater," and the controls couldn't be easier to reach and operate, particularly the metal-gated shifter of the manual transmission.

Exterior Features

Unquestionably sporting in intention, the 2009 Audi R8 sits wide and low, with its cabin far forward and its engine behind. The soft curvature of the hood and roof are drawn in one sweeping arc, while a vertical "sideblade" between the wheel arch and the roof section breaks the smooth door line with contrasting color. LED daytime running lights add an especially sinister look and sit flush with giant air intakes below. Audi says the styling was dictated by aerodynamics. From what we can tell, the R8 might not look out of place in the year 2109. The big question might be: How do you design a successor to such a car?

Driving Impressions

The all-wheel drive-system is almost totally imperceptible when driving the R8 and the chassis responds very quickly to steering input. The 420 horsepower V8 is a model of response and power, and downshifting is rarely ever necessary, as torque is abundant and available throughout the rev range. The optional R tronic transmission provides for quick gear changing, but shifting through the metal gate of the manual transmission is perhaps more satisfying. Regardless of transmission choice, according to Audi the R8 will accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds. As would be expected, the brakes are up to the task, with 15-inch discs with eight-piston calipers in the front and 14-inch discs with four-piston calipers in the rear.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Audi R8 starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail price of roughly $116,000 with the manual transmission or $125,000 if you check the R tronic box. A fully loaded R8 will be about $135,000. Because the R8 is limited production vehicle, we recommend checking the Fair Purchase Price for the most up-to-date pricing in your area. A Porsche 911 Turbo is priced higher than an R8 with manual transmission, and we expect the R8 to have a slightly lower resale value over time.

Notable Equipment

Like most Audi offerings, the R8 comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD), electronic stability control and traction control. Uniquely, the AWD has a 10/90 front-to-rear torque distribution and the stability control has three settings; "On," "Sport" and "Off." The R8 benefits from an electronic differential lock (EDL), and uses speed-dependent electromechanical power steering. LED lighting is used throughout, from the sinister front parking lights to the engine compartment, which is visible through glass from outside the car. A vertical "sideblade" breaks up exterior lines and can be had in contrasting colors. Inside, heated 10-way power seats round out the package.

Notable Options

With a fairly long list of standard equipment, the number of available options is somewhat modest, and they tend to be grouped in packages. The Premium Package includes the Audi parking system with rearview camera, Audi hill hold assist, auto-dimming exterior mirror and a storage package. A Leather Package adds Nappa leather to the seats and door panels, and the Enhanced Leather Package further adds the Nappa leather to the dashboard and the cowl above the instruments. There is also an available Bang & Olufsen Sound system with 465 watts and 12 speakers and Audi navigation plus.

Favorite Features

4.2-liter, 420-horsepower V8

This strong and big-hearted V8 has found a fitting home in the R8 – with the added bonus that it sits behind a glass panel for all to see, like fine jewelry.

Metal-gated Six-speed Manual Transmission

The transmission itself has well-chosen ratios, but it's the metal gate surrounding the shifter that makes shifting so much fun, providing a satisfying "clink" as each shift is completed.

Under the Hood

The eager-to-rev 4.2-liter, 420-horsepower V8 that sits mid-chassis is essentially the same as that found in the RS 4, Audi's premiere midsize sedan. In the R8, the engine can be mated to a traditional manual transmission or Audi's R tronic sequential-shift gearbox, which adds about $9,000 to the bill. Either way, six ratios are available and redline is a lofty 8,250 rpm. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive is standard on the R8, and offers a performance-oriented torque distribution of just 10 percent to the front wheels, as compared to the 40/60 torque bias in most new Audi models.

4.2-liter V8

420 horsepower @ 7800 rpm

317 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500-6000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (manual), 13/18 (automatic)

Editors' Notes

By all accounts, the 2009 Audi R8 is a supercar, but that doesn't mean it's uncompromising and hard-edged. It's an incredibly capable performance machine, yet every bit as luxurious as it is sporting. The posh interior is loaded with electronics and bathed in leather and Alcantara. With Audi's venerable 4.2-liter V8 providing the power, the R8 isn't at all temperamental, as the notion of a supercar might suggest. Then again, it had better be really good if it is to compete with its most obvious rival, the Porsche 911 Turbo.

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