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INSTA-REVIEW: 2008 Audi R8 - First Drive

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It’s gRRR 8!

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President and Co-Publisher

SEE ALSO: Audi Buyers Guide

CALISTOGA, CA – October 22, 2007: Timed perfectly for one of the most beautiful Indian summer days I can remember, I traveled into the San Francisco area this morning to start day-1 of a two-day Audi ride-and-drive media junket that will go from South SF to Calistoga in Napa Valley, back down to Infineon Raceway and then a return to San Fran.

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Billed as the “Audi Fall Performance Collection,” three vehicles are being featured: RS 4 Cabriolet, S5 Coupe, and the sizzling hot R8.

Having been one of the first journalists to arrive at the route starting point, I had the pick of the litter. Naturally I took and R8; the solid black R8 shown above and to the right.

Johann de Nysschen
I’ve heard lots about the new R8, and had the opportunity to hear Johan de Nysschen, Audi USA’s Executive Vice President, talk about the vehicle on multiple occasions. In fact, the last occasion was at a Western Automotive Journalists’ dinner at which Johan was the guest speaker. His principal message at that time was that Audi was ready to break out of its “also-ran” position in North America, and assume the same dominant role that the brand enjoys in other parts of the world. Audi’s intention, Johann explained, was to accomplish this by doing two things; enlarging its marketing efforts and introducing dynamic new products (as if the TT, 4, 6, and 8 models weren’t enough to prove that Audi is a great producer of great cars). The R8 would be, Johan promised, an example of the breakthrough new products.

So with all of this in mind, I put aside everything else, including – believe it or not – the chance to go to the Tokyo Motor Show, which begins tomorrow (if you take into account the change in time). And, I specifically came to this event because I will be riding with Johann in the R8 while he drives and talks about the car. Of course, I’ll be videotaping that entire conversation and it’ll be presented as one of The Auto Channel’s exclusive ROAD TRIP episodes. However, because of how fantastic the car is, I couldn’t wait until the video interview to express my thoughts.

I’ve long maintained that Audi (and VW) cars are the best driving cars in the world. Not everyone likes the esthetic looks of Audi vehicles compared to Mercedes or BMW or Lexus, and while I don’t agree, I can appreciate their opinion. But, as I said, from a driving perspective Audi had the others beat. The R8 does nothing but enhance my enthusiasm for driving an Audi. The R8 is as comfortable, nimble and easy to maneuver as any of their sub-super cars, and with the incredible power of its 420-hp V8 engine, the R8 is the best thrill-ride I’ve ever been on.

Moreover, whatever reservations some people have had with the looks of past Audi (and VW) product, the R8 is a unanimous beauty pageant winner; that is if you count all the waves, thumbs-ups, smiles, double and triple-takes and traffic-stopping stares that the car got as I drove through San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa and St Helena as indications of public approval. The excited conversations that I had with a toll-booth operator and a fairly large crowd that gathered around the car when I stopped for lunch at Dean & Deluca's confirmed that the thumbs-ups I was getting were indeed thumbs, and not middle fingers.

So, there you have it, my first impressions of the Audi R8 and a couple of glossy photos to whet your appetite until I shoot the video piece with Johann. As I am in wine country and I will undoubtedly be indulging in some of California’s finest tonight, cheers to you for reading this little review.

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Take an exclusive RoadTrip with in the Audi R8, pt 1

Take an exclusive RoadTrip with in the Audi R8, pt 2

Take an exclusive RoadTrip with in the Audi R8, pt 3