2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI — Review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
The 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI could be construed as a budget supercar — if such a thing exists. But you wouldn't know it from the performance, which is world-class.
The R8 is essentially a slightly detuned version of the Lamborghini Gallardo, but costs the equivalent of a second mortgage less. In the face of other, more expensive competition, the R8 5.2 FSI offers clinical precision in lieu of a boisterous personality.
Under the Hood
The R8 5.2 FSI can run zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and if you're brave enough, the car will carry you all the way to 196 mph. Those are figures good enough to put the car solidly in the company of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.
Audi offers two gearboxes for the R8 5.2 FSI — a 6-speed manual and a somewhat dated automated manual gearbox, dubbed R tronic. The 6-speed manual transmission incorporates a metal gated shifter, which may give up a few hundredths of a second in shift time, but brings priceless personality and satisfaction to the R8 once again. The 6-speed R tronic gearbox is unquestionably fast — offering shift times in the 0.1-second range — but is a relatively dated single-clutch system.
Both transmissions are bolted to a quattro all-wheel-drive system with a slightly modified torque bias — the 5.2 FSI defaults to 15 percent front and 85 percent rear, as opposed to 10/90 in the 4.2 FSI. Audi reworked the quattro system to account for the greater torque of the V10 engine. Despite the slightly reduced rear bias, there's plenty of rearward torque, allowing the rear end to be playful without all of the terror typical of overpowered lightweights.
The dash and center stack are minimalistic, with bare-essential controls within finger reach. A flat-bottomed steering wheel fits well with the design, and houses controls for the audio system, while a red-trimmed sport tachometer and speedometer dominate the gauge cluster.
On the Road
When it comes to gearbox selection, stick with the 6-speed manual. With precise shifts and gear ratios that make the most out of every engine revolution, the gearbox is what we want out of a car with the R8's athletic intentions. While the R tronic will give your left leg less of a workout, we would really rather see a dual-clutch gearbox in its stead. In-traffic shifts aren't nearly smooth enough for a vehicle at this price point, and on track the abrupt nature of the single-clutch shifts can upset an otherwise perfect balance.
The combination of a titanic engine and complex all-wheel-drive system doesn't do anything to benefit fuel economy. Still, with 12 mpg city/20 mpg highway in manual trim and 13/20 mpg in R tronic guise, the R8 is certainly ahead of the supercar curve.
Right for You?
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.