Significance: Simply put, the R8 is one of the sexiest machines we've ever seen. It it were human, we would sell a kidney on the black market to buy it a wedding ring. We're sure it will be great to drive, but that hardly even matters.
Audi's first-ever mid-engined sports car is gorgeous in pictures. In person, however, it's much, much more dramatic: it's breathtakingly stunning. One look at it lets you know that this two-seater means business--and like the Bugatti Veyron, you just can't tear your eyes away.
If you manage to shift your stare to the spec sheet, you'll notice that the all-aluminum R8 is built using spaceframe design, and that it boasts a 44/56 weight distribution. Official figures haven't been released, but we expect the two-seater to tip the scales at 3400 pounds or so. Its Quattro four-wheel-drive has been modified to make the best use of available traction, and power is distributed through either a six-speed manual transmission or an automated manual unit.
Magnetic active suspension (similar to the systems found on the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ferrari F430) will be an option, along with sport seats and a twelve-speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system. Nineteen-inch wheels will be available to take the place of the standard eighteens. Also included is Audi's MMI interface--with a navigation system and a rear-view camera--a leather and Alcantara interior, and hydraulic power steering.
We haven't driven it yet, but we're guessing that the R8 will be as much fun to drive as it is to look at. It utilizes a dry-sump version of the RS4 sedan's magnificent 420-hp, 4.2-liter 8250-rpm V-8. The R8 will accelerate to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and keep screaming to an ungoverned top speed of 187 mph. If the flat torque curve, immediate power delivery, and magnificent sound aren't sufficiently impressive to wow your friends, you can show them the engine itself, a task made simple by the see-through cover. And here's a cool detail: optional LEDs will illuminate the engine compartment at night.
The R8 will have optional LED headlights beginning late 2007, but the Xenon-lamped R8 is on sale now. The first lucky customers should expect delivery in the first half of 2007, but with a maximum capacity of just fifteen cars per day, we expect a long waiting list. We think it will be worth any delay.