A drive in an Audi R8

Had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the much talked about Audi R8 last night. I took the car for a short drive around central Tokyo to sample that creamy smooth V8 and Audi’s “R-tronic” transmission. Exterior design aside, which is definitively a love it or hate it affair, there is nothing you can say about the quality of the interior. Everything is just like you would expect it to be in an Audi, top notch materials, excellent build quality and simple yet functional and ergonomic design. Tall people will find their left knee (the car I drove was LHD) will rest on the rather hard and angular sweeping door handle, something that can get very uncomfortable very quickly. Right knee doesn’t pass unscathed either with the edge of the center console digging in pretty much as bad. Some soft padding in these areas wouldn’t go amiss.  Visibility out the rear is pretty good and as in every Audi I can always find an excellent driving position. After spending so much time behind the wheel of Japanese cars it is so refreshing to sit in a car that is made for taller people, with the seat going as low as I would ever want it to.  Excellent!  One turn of the key and the mid-mounted 4.2L V8 bellows into life with an angry bark.  The V8 sound is to die for, deep and burbly at idle, progressively getting raspier as you blip the throttle. As I engage the chunky billet gear selector into M and pull on the right paddle the car is in first, and ready to go.  There is a moment of clutch slip before the R8 moves off, it’s smooth but nothing to write home about.  I pull on the right paddle a few times to engage second but my command is rejected, the gear is selected only when the rpm is high enough for the computer to give you the ok. This I didn’t care for too much, but it’s the actual change that truly disappointed me.  It’s not a question of smoothness more an issue of pauses.  Way too long, acceleration is always interrupted in both manual and sport-manual.  The changes are fast but the time it takes for the transmission to disingage and again engage the clutch once the cog has been swapped gives way to neck snapping jolts.  Only when you really give it the beans do the gearchanges smooth out a bit. And the most dissapointing thing is that it does the same in auto mode, the setting you would select to drive smoothly around big busy cities like Tokyo. Nissan’s dual-clutch in the GT-R puts this R-tronic box (closely linked to Lamborghini’s e-Gear) to shame with it’s smoothness and imperceptible instant gear changes. The engine however does help to forget about the R-tronic’s shortcomings, it is instant in its response, very torquey in the mid range and just loves to rev.  I just wish my test drive was around some mountain roads rather than around Roppongi Hills!  I can’t say much about the handling as I hardly pushed the car but the steering felt very connected to the front wheels which, even at moderate speeds over bumps, seemed to bob up and down in true mid-engine supercar fashion.  Conclusions?  Loved it. The looks don’t do anything for me (well I love the front headlights) but the rest sure does.  I’ll just take one with a manual transmission please! 

Anyway here are a few pictures.  Apologies for the crappy quality but it was very dark and the iPhone’s camera is pretty much useless!


0 Responses to “A drive in an Audi R8”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

September 2008
« Aug   Oct »

%d bloggers like this: