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The experts at TheCarConnection.com have studied the range of reviews that cover the 2009 Audi R8 and incorporated some of the most useful insight and information in this review. And to bring you the best advice on what distinguishes the R8 from its exclusive rivals, TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Audi R8 on streets, highways, and the racetrack, and added their own observations.
- Poster-car looks
- Surprising practicality
- Smooth, high-revving V-8 engine
- Balanced, stable handling
- Spectacular engine bay
- Obscured rearward vision
- Difficult entry and exit
- Takes a duffel bag, but not much more
The 2009 Audi R8 looks every bit the exotic, a silhouette that seems designed for high-speed runs with extensive ductwork for engine cooling and brake venting, and huge wheels with a staggered size, front to back. Stunning details such as the LED light bar at the front and a glass engine cover that displays the LED-illuminated engine make it resemble a museum piece.
The entire vehicle weighs only about 3,400 pounds and has a near-perfect (rear-biased) weight distribution to take advantage of the engine's mounting, just behind the front seats. The R8's lightweight construction and racing-inspired details are derived from Audi's experience with the racecar of the same name.
Though the engine in the 2009 Audi R8 isn't particularly torquey for a V-8—it needs to be revved a bit to extract all the power—it delivers very brisk performance with either the standard six-speed manual or optional R-tronic gearbox. The manual gearbox has distinctive metal shift gates inside and shifts easily; the R-tronic gearbox can shift roughly in leisurely driving, but it's the choice for track driving, where it nails down shifts faster than the most experienced drivers and blips the throttle expertly on downshifts to maintain control.
You don’t have to drive the R8 at illegal speeds to enjoy it, though it sure does have a presence on the racetrack. The R8 feels hefty and stable at triple-digit speeds, while also managing to convey lightness and nimbleness at low speeds. Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 35 percent of torque to the front wheels, puts the power to the pavement without drama. And the sound from the V-8 is a nice baritone, but not so loud that it brings on fatigue.