There aren't many occasions when 420 horsepower would be considered underpowered, but in the exclusive sandbox where the Audi R8 plays, 420 horses aren't enough to distinguish you from that GT-R in the corner. To rectify this situation, Audi drops a Lamborghini-sourced V-10 behind the cockpit of the R8, turning the Audi R8 into a Ferrari-stomping supercar.
TheCarConnection.com read many reviews to prepare this report, and one thing quickly became clear during the research; as Car and Driver asserts, the new 2010 Audi R8 V-10 "is wickedly quick." Not that the V-8-powered R8 is slow-ConsumerGuide states that the "base" R8 still runs from "0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds with either transmission," but the V-10 cranks the performance factor up to 11. Automobile Magazine reports that the new V-10 engine in the R8 produces "525-hp" and "dishes up 391 instead of 317 lb-ft of torque," enough to push the Audi R8 along the "0-to-62-mph sprint [in] 3.9 seconds." Not only is the new V-10 strong, but according to Motor Trend it offers one of the broadest power curves in its class; they rave that the "output is astonishingly well distributed across the entire rev range, a consistent swelling from sub-2000 rpm to redline at a stratospheric 8700." For buyers interested in the eight-cylinder model, ConsumerGuide says that you won't be disappointed there, either, as the "torquey V8 delivers forceful but drama-free takeoffs" and "ample highway passing punch."
While Audi has clearly begun to draw even with the Ferraris and GT-Rs of the world in terms of acceleration and power output, its automatic transmission still lags behind those featured on its competitors. Automobile Magazine cautions that the six-speed auto, dubbed R-tronic, "responds jerkily and somewhat reluctantly to impatient throttle orders" when in Drive, and Motor Trend calls it "not one of the worst, but neither is it one of the best." Fortunately, the available six-speed manual on the Audi R8 is a world-class transmission, and despite Audi's initial projections it has proven to be the more popular choice. Automobile Magazine describes the gears as "perfectly spaced and mated to a creamy yet meaty clutch," offering "short throws with sensuous connectivity." Motor Trend also digs through the suggestive metaphor box, declaring that the Audi R8's manual transmission "has a wonderful mechanical intimacy" whereby you "can actually feel its shift improve as the transmission oil warms up."
While no supercar offers super-eco-friendly fuel economy numbers, the 2010 Audi R8 still leans toward the low end of the efficiency spectrum. The best EPA rating for the Audi R8 lineup comes on the V-10 model with the automatic transmission, which returns 13 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway, while the MT V-10 gets 12 mpg city and 20 mpg on the highway. The V-8 versions fare worse, surprisingly, earning a 12/19 mpg rating with the manual transmission and 13/18 mpg mark for the automatic. While these numbers can't match the Corvette ZR1 or Nissan GT-R, they blow the Ferrari F430's 11/16 mpg mark out of the water.
One of Audi's loftiest goals, and certainly one of its most impressive accomplishments, is to create a supercar that blends world-class handling with a ride quality that could be deemed "livable" for a daily driver. All of the reviews surveyed by TheCarConnection.com show that the Audi R8 is an unqualified success on both counts, and Automobile Magazine claims that the "5.2-liter V-10-powered R8 is the new leader of the pack" in terms of "total dynamic balance." Although the R8 features Audi's trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system, Car and Driver reports that it "behaves a lot like a rear-drive car," as the majority of the R8's power is directed to the rear wheels. ConsumerGuide, typically home to a more conservative reviewership, remarks that the Audi R8 boasts "prodigious dry-road grip and virtually no body lean," while Motor Trend simply says that "in fast corners it stays level and immensely well glued." That's largely due to the absurdly high 1.2g of lateral grip that the Audi R8 registers in skidpad tests, a number that would make even F1 cars sweat. Fortunately, Audi doesn't sacrifice ride quality in its quest to make the R8 one of the best-handling cars on the road; ConsumerGuide points out that the R8's ride is "surprisingly comfortable," and Car and Driver appreciates that Audi includes "standard driver-adjustable magnetic shocks [that] let you choose a sporty or more comfortable setup."