Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree: When it comes to sheer driving pleasure, the Audi R8 is a smooth and fast performer with a firm but controlled ride.
As ConsumerGuide describes it, "the V-8 sounds wonderful, a mix of Formula 1 and NASCAR." With an 8,250 redline, the engine's best feature is its sound. In the R8, Audi's 4.2-liter V-8 engine puts out 420 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and goes from 0-60 in just under five seconds, with a top speed of 185 mph, Automobile says. Yet the 2009 R8 still manages to average a very un-exotic 17 mpg. Of course, that's driving it not like you stole it. Official EPA numbers are 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway with the automatic and 12/19 mpg with the manual.
In the 2009 R8, Audi offers a standard six-speed manual, or for an extra $9,000, one can opt for a six-speed automatic transmission that has a "sport mode" allowing manual shifting. TheCarConnection.com's editors believe the R8's R-tronic gearbox is optimized for track performance. Though it's the choice for track driving, it can shift roughly in leisurely driving. Jalopnik remarks that the R-tronic transmission "is fairly unpleasant in city traffic." However, it nails down shifts faster than the most experienced drivers and blips the throttle expertly on downshifts to maintain control.
The reviewer at Cars.com expresses 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 reports that the former "delivered ponderous upshifts in normal driving." Many reviewers like snicking the manual's gears better and say the sound of the metal gear lever and gate make driving all the more exciting.
Compared to the Lamborghini Gallardo, which shares some mechanicals with the R8, Audi's sportscar is a relative lightweight. The 2009 R8 weighs only about 3,400 pounds and has a near-perfect (rear-biased) weight distribution to take advantage of the engine's mounting, but according to ForbesAutos, "it outweighs the Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche 911."
The 2009 R8's advanced suspension system makes its ride a "pleasant surprise, comfortable beyond anyone's expectations for a car like this," says Cars.com. This includes front and rear wishbones and an adaptive mechanism that adjusts for varying road conditions. ForbesAutos 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. "Still, the R8 gets restless on patchy pavement and can jolt over potholes and sharp bumps," notes ConsumerGuide. This, no doubt, can be attributed somewhat to the 2009 Audi R8's 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires.
Audi's trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system is there as a "confidence-inspiring safety net." 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. Automobile reports that the 2009 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. Kelley Blue Book concurs: "As would be expected, the brakes are up to the task, with 15-inch discs with eight-piston calipers in the front and 14-inch discs with four-piston calipers in the rear."