Audi's first-ever mid-engined sports car is gorgeous in pictures. In person, however, it is much, much more dramatic. It is breathtakingly stunning. One look at it lets you know that this two-seater means business - it isn't unlike the Bugatti Veyron in that its wide and low stance compels you to stare at it for extended periods of time.
If you instead stare at the spec sheet, you'll notice that the all-aluminum R8 is built on Audi's Space Frame design, and has a near-ideal 44/56 weight distribution. Official weight figures haven't been released, but we expect a curb weight of 3400 lb. Its Quattro four-wheel-drive has been modified to make the best use of available traction, and power is distributed through a six-speed manual transmission or an automated manual unit.
Magnetic active suspension (similar to the Corvette and Ferrari F430) will be an option, along with sport seats and a 12-speaker 465-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system and nineteen-inch wheels (in place of the standard eighteens). Standard is Audi's MMI interface with navigation system, rear-view camera, leather and Alcantara interior, and hydraulic power steering.
The R8 will accelerate to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and keep screaming to an ungoverned top speed of 187 mph.
We haven't driven it yet, but we are guessing that the R8 will be as much fun to drive as it is to look at. It has a dry-sump version of the RS4's magnificent 420-hp 4.2-liter 8250-rpm V-8. As if the flat torque curve, immediate power delivery, and magnificent sound aren't enough, the engine cover is see-through. Optional LEDs illuminate the engine compartment at night, just to make sure that all onlookers take notice of the gorgeous powerplant.
Speaking of LEDs, the R8 will have optional LED headlights beginning late 2007, but the Xenon-lit R8 is on sale now. The first lucky customers should expect delivery in the first half of 2007, but with a maximum capacity of 15 cars per day, we expect a big waiting list. We think it will be worth the wait.