Wildfire On Wheels
Audi R8 BASE PRICE:
ENGINE: 4.2-liter V-8
POWER: 420 horses
A GERMAN-ITALIAN ALLIANCE
The Audi R8 shares underpinnings with the Lamborghini Gallardo (Volkswagen owns both brands) but is very much its own supercar. It is also exclusive: Only 300 per year will be sold worldwide.
TAKE THEE TO THE TRACK
With a top speed of 187 mph--and 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds--the R8 passes everything on the Interstate. To enjoy it fully, though, buy some time on a track. A 500 HP V-10 is expected next year.
The side panel covering the air intake comes in contrasting colors or a body color. It looks slapped on either way. Audi calls it a "blade," and says it's there to flag that this is a rear-engine car.
You can see the aluminum engine through the glass rear hatch. Cool LED lights illuminate it at night. Its proximity to the car's occupants--a foot or so behind their backs--makes the cabin a bit noisy.
From the race-car-styled squared-off steering wheel to the easy-to-use navigation and entertainment screen and the lumbar support, the R8 is set up nicely for a long road trip. No MP3 hookup in the first batch of cars, but it's on the way.
A STABLE RELATIONSHIP
The coupé maintains road stability with Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The default setting puts 90% of the power to the rear wheels. The paddle-shifted transmission can be run in automatic mode or manual. Try both.
The space behind the seats can fit at least one decent-size golf bag. The front-mounted trunk will hold a fair-size suitcase. Audi's custom-fitted luggage may be a good investment if you intend to use the car frequently on weekends.
By David Kiley