I've heard that this R tronic transmission performs much better on the track when shifting at wide-open throttle. Unfortunately, I drove this R8 on a wet night in moderate traffic, so I lived with the perplexingly abrupt calibration of the gearbox. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware of the lift-throttle manual shift technique, so even when I was pulling on paddles, I found the shifts to be unacceptably rough. The transmission's sport mode is also quite extreme. Feather-foot the gas pedal, and the car still rockets from a stop like a full-throttle launch, shifting north of 6000 rpm. Very strange.
Unlike for Evan, this transmission definitely cools my interest in the R8. While a 911 is equally appealing with a manual transmission or the PDK dual-clutch box, this Audi R8 is a non-starter if it's going to be packaged with the automated-manual R tronic. Of course pairing the R8 with a manual makes this an entirely different and much more desirable car.
I haven't driven many other cars with automated single-clutch manual transmissions, but I'm well aware that there are plenty of examples of bad ones that have passed through the market in recent years. For that reason, and the fact that Volkswagen/Audi engineers are quite possibly the leaders in dual-clutch gearboxes, I'm surprised this car didn't get a twin-clutch transmission. I know Audi is tied up in Lamborghini technology with the R8, and the Volkswagen Group doesn't have a dual-clutch transmission for the high-torque, mid-engine configuration, but it seems like investment in a more advanced, smoother transmission would go a long way in making this car more palatable to the prestige buyers who don't want a manual.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor