When it comes to sheer driving pleasure, most reviewers agreed with TheCarConnection.com's team and found the Audi R8 a smooth and fast performer with a firm but controlled ride.
In the R8, Audi’s 4.2-liter V-8 engine puts out 420 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and will go from 0-60 in just under five seconds, with a top speed of 185 mph, Automobilemag.com says. Despite this, the Audi R8 still manages to average 17 mpg.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base 2008 Audi R8; for an extra $9,000, one can have a six-speed automatic transmission that has a "sport mode" allowing manual shifting. The reviewer at Cars.com expressed doubts about this optional R-tronic automated manual transmission with its single-clutch system. Although the claim is made that the R-tronic transmission allows for the same acceleration as that of the standard transmission, Cars.com reported that the former "delivered ponderous upshifts in normal driving."
TheCarConnection.com’s editors believe the R8’s drivetrain is geared for track performance, especially with the R-tronic gearbox. 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.
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. Compared to the Lamborghini Gallardo, which shares some mechanicals with the R8, Audi’s sportscar is a relative lightweight. Nonetheless, according to Forbes Auto, it outweighs the Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche 911.
Cars.com describes the R8 Audi's ride as a "pleasant surprise, comfortable beyond anyone's expectations for a car like this." This is attributable to the 2008 R8's advanced suspension system. This includes front and rear wishbones and an adaptive mechanism that adjusts for varying road conditions. Forbes Autos describes this optional adaptive suspension, which employs magnetically charged shocks that can vary their firmness in milliseconds. By adjusting these to their "sports settings," it is possible to take those twisting roads at greater speed while minimizing the vehicle's tendency to roll.
Road & Track test drivers are impressed with the R8 Audi's stability; the powertrain delivers a "minimal amount of torque" (no more than 35 percent, according to Car and Driver) to the front wheels, which makes the car's handling more like a traditional rear-wheel-drive sportscar; nonetheless, Audi's trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system is there as a "confidence-inspiring safety net."
Automobile reports that the 2008 Audi R8's brakes are firm and steady, and deliver a stopping distance from 62 to 0 mph in a best-in-class 112 feet.