2009 Audi R8 R Tronic

The Audi R8 is stunning in this monochromatic color pallete. The only glaring omission is a set of blacked-out wheels. I think bright alloys look wrong on a car that's otherwise devilishly dark and mysterious. Not everyone will love the dark interior, but it does reduce glare on sunny days.

This was my second experience with Audi's R tronic transmission, but the other R tronic-equipped car I sampled packed the more potent 5.2-liter V-10 engine, and the transmission was calibrated differently. R tronic works well enough for a single-clutch unit, although most enthusiasts will likely clamor for the more traditional six-speed manual. It can be frustrating if you try to drive an R tronic car like a traditional automatic but there are other automated manual transmissions that don't work as well as Audi's solution (BMW's old SMG comes to mind). A twin-clutch unit would be much nicer, but it's not yet available.

An Audi R8 is still a very rare sight on the roads around Ann Arbor, so I got lots of looks in traffic. The R8 doesn't generate as much attention as the Lotus Exige S 260 I recently sampled, but then again not much can compete with a car that looks like a toy.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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