If you walked into my kitchen last Sunday evening, you likely found me preparing a three-course meal out of my hat. The last time I drove an R8 with the R-Tronic transmission -- an automated manual transaxle -- I wasn't a huge fan of it.
But having put this car through an impromptu 10-hour dash to Chicago and back for lunch, I'm warming up to it. It's nice to have an automatic mode when you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 90-94-55 interchange, and if you treat it like a manual transmission -- lift off the throttle when you initiate gear changes -- it behaves like one. The best of both worlds, perhaps, although I'm not fond of how dipping too far with the accelerator triggers a sudden -- and at times, explosive -- 6-4 downshift, even in manual mode. I accidently did this twice, treating me, my passenger, and six lanes of traffic in Gary, Indiana, to the howl of this V-10 at full throttle. Whoops.
This V-10 is quite the powerplant, but unless you're moving from a Lamborghini or Ferrari into this car, I'd reason the 4.2-liter V-8 is more than sufficient. It's plenty powerful, is more than happy to rev at your left foot's beck and call, and as Phil noted, is much more linear, especially once the weather turns nasty.
If you are shopping the V-8 car, I'd also opt to skip the Bang & Olufsen sound system (standard on the V-10 model). It may be able to rupture eardrums with nary a hint of clipping or distortion, but when you have an engine making some of the most beautiful noises known to mankind, why would you pay to mask that soundtrack?
Evan McCausland, Web Producer