Never after lunch

2010, Audi, R8

"Just tell me when you're ready" two-time Lemans winner Allan McNish said to me. I'm ready, I replied. I thought I was.

"What do you like about the R8 Rtronic?" I asked Allan McNish as we went around Infineon race track at 120 miles per hour in a 2010 Audi R8 V10 Rtronic.

"I come from the old stick shift background, but I haven't used a stick shift in years. We use paddle shifters when we race. The beautiful thing about paddle shifters is you can change gears halfway through the corner. With a stick shift you would be fumbling around with one hand on the wheel." McNish told me all this as he took the corner a "little deep in the curve". To his benefit, I went around the same corner at 55 that he went around at 120 mph.

McNish also uses diesel to win the races at Lemans. We talked about how many less stops the car made for fuel and how much quieter it was than the gasoline injected cars. McNish favors diesel so much he owns a diesel Audi at home.

A favorite part of the car for McNish was the chassis. "The car hugs the road and will let you know when you are doing something wrong. It will tell you that you might not want to do that again."

I also talked to Heinrich Timm, the head of the Aluminum and Lightweight Design Center in Neckarsulum, Germany.

Timm designed the Audi Space Frame (ASF) in the early 1980s, on the orders of Ferdinand Piech. ASF technology has already found its way into six Audi models: the first- and second-generation Audi A8, the Audi A2, the latest TT and TT Roadster, and the high-performance Audi R8 sports car that we drove at the Infineon racetrack. The Lamborghini Gallardo and the Gallardo Spyder also trace their roots to the Aluminum and Lightweight Design Center.

Timm's family were farmers. As a child Timm designed and built his on games on his parent's farm. They wanted him to become a farmer, but Timm wanted to continue to design and build.

In order to build an aluminum car Timm had to forgo the spot welding that steel cars use. Timm had to find a way to mold the parts together that would have the strength of steel. He was also concerned about noise, vibration and harshness. One would not buy a vehicle if it were thirty percent noisier.

Timm went back to items one saw on a farm: things such as corn and birds. A corn has a leaf, and a node, then another leaf. This makes the cornstalk stronger and this concept was implemented in the structure of the Audi space frame.

Bird's are incredibly lightweight when you consider the acrobats they do in the air. Timm explained that if you look at the inside of a bird's bone, there is another bone inside the bone. Reinforcement for the sill was based on the design of a bird's bone-in-bone. The A-pillar is based on the head of an elephant.

There are two engine models for the 2010 R8: A 4.2 liter V8 spark-ignition engine with FSI Direct Injection, 4-valve technology, two light-alloy cylinder heads both with double overhead camshafts (DOHC), naturally aspirated.

The engine in the 4.2-liter puts out 420 horsepower @ 7,800 rpm and 317 lbs.ft. of torque @ 4,500 - 6,000 rpm.

R8 4.2 FSI (V8) quattro (6-Speed Manual) $114,200

R8 4.2 FSI (V8) quattro (R tronic) $123,300

Add $1,200 for destination charge.

The second engine model is a 5.2 liter V10 spark-ignition engine with FSI direct Injection, 90 degree cylinder angle, 4-valve technology, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), intake manifold with charge movement flaps, naturally-aspirated.

The engine in the 5.2-liter puts out 525 horsepower @ 8000 rpm and 391 lbs.ft. of torque @ 6500 rpm.

R8 5.2 FSI (V10) quattro (6-Speed Manual) $146,000

R8 5.2 FSI (V10) quattro (R tronic) $155,100

Add $1,200 for destination charge.

Adding extra horsepower isn't a problem. The R8 shares the same platform with the Lamborghini Gallardo, which gets over 550 horsepower.

The Audi R8 has a new iPod interface that is standard for 2010, as is carbon fiber on the doorsills, exterior mirrors and body kit. LED lights are optional on the V8 and standard on the V10. Parking Assist System is an option on the R8.

Consider getting the Sepang Blue if you get the V10. You can only get Sepang Blue on the V10, so you might as well scream while screaming down the street with the 115 extra horsepower.

I will always take a ride with McNish, but maybe next time I won't go with him on the track right after lunch.

By Lou Ann Hammond

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Images of the 2010, Audi R8

2010 Audi R8
2010 Audi R8
you can't spot weld aluminum
you can't spot weld aluminum
back to the basics of life
back to the basics of life
Allan McNish with the Sepang blue R-tronic
Allan McNish with the Sepang blue R-tronic