This is the fourth and final post in the series of blog posts about my #WantAnR8 weekend. Below are links to the previous blog posts:
- #WantAnR8 Experience Part One: Winning
- #WantAnR8 Experience Part Two: The Big Day
- #WantAnR8 Experience Part Three: Nightfall and Meeting Mt. St. Helens
Leaving where I left off in the previous blog post, I was coming back from a nice trip up to Mt. St. Helens and the clock had already struck 15:00. I only had less than an hour left with the beautiful, and now bug splattered, Daytona Gray R8. The fuel gauge was also showing about a quarter of a tank left, so I meandered my way to a decently priced petrol station near where I live and filling it back up. I continued to drive it around a bit more to bring the fuel level roughly to where I had gotten it.
By that time, I was about a mile from home and the clock was ticking: 15:55. I started heading back and as I drove part way into the complex’s parking lot, I saw a white A5 cabriolet with New York plates. The guys that were sent by Audi to pick up the R8 had arrived early. I pulled into my parking spot and was greeted by the two guys. I started the process of taking out my stuff from the R8, made sure there wasn’t any personal items that were left in the front storage bay. I was given a chance to say good-bye to the R8 and to take a couple of pictures.
The longer I made the good-bye, the more I didn’t want to give back the R8. So, after a couple of shots, I gave them the key. Crying a bit on the inside, I took a couple of additional farewell photos.
And with that, it was gone. The 36 hours that I had with the R8 was amazing, but all good things must come to an end.
The time that I had with the R8 also gave me a chance to do a longer term (well, longer than the 20-30 minutes that I had with an R8 before) review of the R8 V10 with the R Tronic gearbox. The gearbox has either been disliked or hated by many car reviewers due to it’s clunky gear changes and it’s approximately $9,100 premium over the manual gearbox. Since I knew that the R Tronic is a single-clutch automated manual gearbox, I lifted off of the throttle when I changed gears with either the paddles or the gearbox knob. This allowed nearly smooth shifts going up from 2nd to 3rd and on up; also, downshifting using the same technique was pretty smooth going down. The only time that that technique didn’t always work and sometimes led to rougher gear changes was going from 1st to 2nd or from 2nd to 1st.
If I left the automated part of the gearbox to do its job without input from the paddles or knob, the gear changes did get clunkier if I kept the throttle down while the gearbox changed gears. This was even more evident in Sport mode and when flooring the accelerator. Now, if I slightly lifted on the throttle on anticipating a gear change, it smooths it out for the most part. The way I see it, if you are driving a high-performance car or a supercar, there has to be a minimum level of attention and involvement that the driver has to have. An automated manual gearbox will never be the same as a slushbox, in which requires nearly no cranial activity and provides equally no amount of excitement.
Were I to order an R8, it would either have a proper manual gearbox (that gated shifter is not only beautiful but also makes the best sounds when changing gears) or go with the new S Tronic gearbox. Oh, and it has to be in Sepang Blue with the Oxygen Silver blade, piano black inlays and black Alcantara headliner. With that said, I wouldn’t turn down an R8 with the R Tronic gearbox if one were given to me. Otherwise, I would have to hand back my Audi evangelist card.
As far as the rest of the R8 is concerned, there were three little problems with the car that I had. First, the brakes squealed when coming to a stop about half of the time. It was that way when I got the R8. Secondly, the driver side window controls would stick up or down on use. The third problem is that I wished there was a way to tunnel in more of the engine or exhaust noise into the cabin. With the windows up, the engine and drivetrain sounds were quite muted and only higher frequencies really made it through.
The seats, even with the stiffer side and thigh bolsters (compared to my S5′s seats), were quite comfortable for long cruises and when having fun in tight turns. The steering feel was tight and very accurate. There is no play and it just responds to every teeny, tiny input. At low speeds or when backing out of a spot, it required some effort but it was manageable. Also, don’t let those small windows between the side windows and the side blade fool you… they don’t really help. Of course, set the side mirrors appropriately will help eliminate the larger blind spots.
I was surprised at how much could fit into the front cargo area and the cargo shelf behind the seats. A medium sized laptop bag and the kit that the film crew’s sound guy used to record audio during the short jaunt down to Audi Wilsonville fit with some room to spare. The Bang and Olufson speakers did their jobs well, but were not employed a whole lot.
The V10 definitely drank petrol when making full use of the 525 horses and 391 torques, or just plain driving in a lower gear just to hear the symphony playing behind you. When just cruising down the freeway at the speed limit, I was able to squeeze out about 19 MPG according to the read out (which I usually knock about 10% off for a more accurate amount). The average petrol drinking rate of the R8 over the 36 hours, including several periods of idling with the film crew and quick blasts up and down hills, was closer to 14 MPG per the readout.
The R8 was a joy to drive and wasn’t that much more difficult to drive than an S5 with a Tiptronic gearbox. Of course, the S5 cannot compete with an R8… well, at least without some persuasion (read: APR supercharger for the 4.2-litre V8).
I really want to thank Audi for the whole #WantAnR8 experience: I feel so lucky and so humbled for being picked as a #WantAnR8 contest winner! I would also like to thank the #WantAnR8 queen, Julie McCoy, for starting the whole thing. Huge kudos also go out to Sir I Am Audi, Scott Mitchell, and not just for the hoodie. It was with some persuasion and nudging by Scott that helped me start the Audi For Life blog and online presence. A shout out is also in order to both Paul Meyers and Andy White of M80. Last and not least, a thank you to all of the friends and fans that I have made over the past years. You guys have also helped me grow Audi For Life to where it is today.