Preview: 2008 Audi R8

Preview: 2008 Audi R8

ON SALE: NOW / $115,600

With its new R8, Audi steps onto the supercar stage for the first time and turns in a bravura performance. The R8's 420-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 (from the RS4) sits on display under the large rear window. The engine is longitudinally mounted and is positioned just ahead of the rear axle and aft of the two seats. In testing in the Nevada desert and again on a weeklong stay here in the Midwest, we found the engine to be an aural delight--a good thing, since the six-speed gearboxes (both the standard manual and the electronically shifted R tronic) keep it plenty busy. Our tests had the R8 screaming to 60 mph in4.5 seconds and on to 100 mph in 10.5 seconds, just a bit behind the Ferrari F430. But the Audi stickers for half of what an F430 does, and it has every bit as much street presence. (The side blades--the panels just behind the air intakes--can be done in a contrasting color, matching color, or carbon fiber.)

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