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4T : R8 2012 Reviews & Road Tests

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23 October 2012


“I’ve just ordered an R8,” I say over dinner while trying my best to wrestle down a Cheshire cat-like grin. My tablemate looks at me with a raised eyebrow

“4.2?” he inquires.

“Yes.”

“Good. And of course you went with Daytona Grey.”

“No… Red.”

I get a funny look from across a choice cut of filet. My friend knows Audi well. He works for them actually, and that probably explains it. You see, most R8s are grey… or silver, or black, or maybe white. There’s irony in the fact that the car is featured prominently in Fifty Shades of Gray, because Audi R8s most regularly can be found in nearly as many neutral shades. Also, if Fifty Shades qualifies as “mommy porn”, then the Audi R8 damn well qualifies as “car porn”.

My friend also has an R8. Surprise. It is Daytona Grey. The color is fantastic of course, but red seemed a more standout move in my case. Blame it on a mid-life crisis as I’ve recently turned 40, or blame it on wanting to try something different without doing something crazy like yellow or orange that could hurt the car’s resale or prove polarizing at events where we’re bound to take it.

At about this point, like several people who’ve approached our editorial team about the car at shows, you’re probably less surprised by the color and more likely to question us about the engine choice. Maybe you’d order a V10, or even a GT. I’d argue back that the 4.2 is better suited for daily life and in the real world – more efficient, plenty of power on tap and it’ll beat you up less on depreciation.

The guy I’m having dinner with, one Tom Kristensen… yes, that Tom Kristensen, would disagree with those lobbying for a V10. “The V8 has better balance,” he’s told me on at least one previous occasion, since the chassis was designed first for this engine. I’m in hardly any place to argue. I’ve done a few track days. He’s won the 24 Hours of Le Mans eight times… more than any other driver. If this were cards, it’d be a gross understatement to say he’s got trump.

Funny thing about the Audi R8, it also seems to be the Teflon exotic. The car was barely on the market when the wave of the great recession hit the super luxury car segment like a tsunami. An approachable exotic in nearly every sense of the word, the car fared well because Audi’s brand positioning was a bit more smart than more gluttonous badges with prancing fauna. Pricing was attainable for this type of car, and smart placement in movies such as Iron Man has helped propel the R8 to lofty pop culture status. Even more impressive, the car’s design remains cutting edge and also timeless, even as it enters the twilight of a production cycle and a facelift is imminent. Is it any surprise that Audi enthusiasts and so many more are enamored with the car?

So there you are. I ordered this 2012 R8 late last year. In about six months I went from #wantanR8 to #gotanR8 – in many ways a dream come true. And while cars we’ve added to our fleet in the past have dipped into the Audi Exclusive order guide, I felt no need here. Of course, the Audi Exclusive order guide is even deeper for the R8 than it is for nearly any other car hailing from Ingolstadt, but the sheer depth of choices on the published order guide was more than enough to chew over for my “first R8”.

Those familiar with the R8 internally will tell you we built a bit of a rarity. Turns out the 4.2 is often an aspirational car, with people stretching their budgets to make the plunge. V8 models tend to get built with less optional equipment. V10s on the other hand… owners of these cars tend to reward themselves handsomely by checking many boxes on the list. Though more conservative in our engine choice, we approached the options rather liberally. The only thing light about our approach was a generous helping of carbon fiber.

Here’s the spec. Our R8 4.2 coupe with manual 6-speed transmission based in MY2012 order guide money at $114,200. From there we added Audi Carbon Ceramic Brakes ($9,900), Carbon Fiber Sigma Exterior Package with front spoiler lip and rear diffusor made from the black woven stuff ($8,100), Enhanced Leather Package ($5,500), Carbon Fiber Sigma engine compartment inlays ($3,600), LED headlights ($3,500), Carbon Fiber Sigma interior inlays including Monoposto, driver leg rest, door handle and door inlays ($2,500), Carbon Fiber Sigma sideblades ($2,300), Audi navigation system plus with Audi Music Interface ($2,200), Convenience Package with Audi parking system plus including rearview camera and sensors front/rear, Audi hill hold assist, storage package and power folding exterior mirrors with auto dimming ($2,100), Bang & Olufsen sound system ($1,800), Carbon Fiber Sigma exterior mirrors ($1,400), black Alcantara headliner ($1,300), matte titanium 5-arm double spoke wheels ($500) and finally black leather package with contrasting red stitching ($250). Add to that Gas Guzzler tax of $3,000 and Destination Charge of $1,250 and our R8 netted out at $163,400.

Over the next few months we’ll be documenting what it is like to live with this Audi R8. To be clear, this will not be a project car. We won’t be endeavoring to add forced induction, re-think the suspension or dial up the diameter of the wheels. There are cars where this makes sense like those in our Feature Car section and we even hope to do an R8 project car in the future, but this is not that car. With this series we will be focused more on the daily life of R8 ownership.

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