Audi's supercar gets its name from Audi's successful Le Mans racer. The R8 was introduced in 2006.
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Although the grille uses Audi styling cues, the R8 is like nothing else in the automaker's production line.
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The headlights are bi-xenon, while parking lights are white LEDs. The new Audi A4, launching this year, is also getting the LED treatment.
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The R8 uses the same chassis as the Lamborghini Gallardo, with which it shares 15 percent of its parts.
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The R8's tires are impressively big, with 295/30s in back and 235/35s in front. Front brake calipers use eight pistons, while the rear calipers get four.
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Our review car was coated in a color called Phantom Black Pearl Effect, which looked brownish to us. The panel behind the doors is black, no matter what color is chosen for the body.
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The taillights use LEDs, while blades in all the air vents and ducts add a stylish effect.
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Similar to its TT, Audi uses an automatic spoiler on the R8 that rises when the car hits 75 mph.
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The engine, mounted just behind the seats and in front of the rear wheels, is displayed under a glass cover.
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The R8 gets Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive standard and magnetic damping on the suspension, giving it incredible handling.
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The eight-cylinder engine uses two longitudinal banks and produces 420 horsepower. The engine uses Audi's direct injection technology.
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These seats are all you get, as the R8 is a two-seat coupe. As the engine is behind the seats, the cargo area is in front, although it is very small.
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All of the instrumentation, including the MMI controller for the navigation, audio, and phone system, is all focused toward the driver.
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For most of our driving, we set the center display to show the car's speed and watched that and the tachometer.
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The R tronic transmission is optional in the R8. It's a sequential manual gearbox originally developed by Lamborghini. In manual mode, it shifts very quickly, but it makes the car difficult to drive in automatic mode, with big rev drops between gears.
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We are on familiar territory with the navigation system, having seen it in other Audi models.
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To enter destinations, you have to input one letter at a time using this rotary interface, which can get tedious.
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Route guidance works just fine with this navigation system, although it's not quite as advanced as systems found in other cars.
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This six-disc changer is optional and mounted on the rear cabin wall, between the seats. The placement isn't particularly convenient, and it can't read MP3 CDs.
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If you want to play MP3 tracks in the R8, there are two SD card slots behind the LCD.
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We liked the audio quality from the base system, which uses seven speakers and a 140 watt amp, but there is an optional Bang & Olufsen system with a 465 watt amp.
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Audi lets you integrate a phone with either a cradle or Bluetooth.
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The phone integration is excellent. The system can download your phone's contacts, and you can manually program in entries.
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Audi has an excellent parking system, with a rear-view camera that shows where the car will go as the wheels are turned. There is also a sonar system to warn of obstacles.
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