2010 Audi R8 V10 5.2 FSI: First Drive

Congratulations Audi… and welcome to the supercar list!

2010 Audi R8 V10 5.2 FSI: First Drive

Supercar. It’s a word automotive journalists and enthusiasts alike, use to describe a unique automobile possessing the highest levels of performance. As it refers to production cars, I think too often we try and apply the term where it doesn’t belong.

FAST FACTS

1. The new 5.2-liter V10 engine generates 525hp and 390 ft-lbs of torque.

2. It takes just 3.8 seconds to hit 60 mph and races on to an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph.

3. Pricing for the new V10 model starts at $146,000, or $155,100 for the R-tronic automatic transmission.

For example, the Nissan GTR is an incredible sports car with massive amounts of horsepower and handling extraordinaire. It is a truly fast, fun-to-drive, exciting automobile without question. But is it a supercar? Not in my opinion.

In truth, there are only a small handful of cars qualifying for this level of recognition. The Ferrari F430 Scuderia and Porsche GT3 are two that rise above the crowd. At the far end of the price quotient, the Bugatti Veyron is another. After a recent test of the 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI, my list of supercars has just expanded by one more.

SUPERIOR POWER AND STOPPING ABILITY

Scary-fun is one way to describe several super-performing cars currently in the market.

The Dodge Viper SRT10 comes to mind as a prime example. In the same way a rollercoaster ride has you feeling elated and panicked all at the same time, this is one car you need to constantly be on top of or things can go seriously wrong in a hurry.

Unlike the vaunted V10 snake from Dodge, a sense of impending doom never enters your mind behind the wheel of the driver-friendly Audi R8 5.2 FSI. One of its greatest attributes is the fact this supercar is as easy to drive as an Audi S5.

Featuring a rear mounted 5.2-liter DOHC V10 engine with direct injection; it produces 525hp at 8000 rpm. Torque is equally impressive, though a somewhat less daunting 390 ft-lbs at 6500 rpm.

Mated to a 6-speed manual or R-tronic sequential manual (automatic), the Audi R8 5.2 FSI accelerates with blinding speed. Zero to sixty miles per hour blows past in a mere 3.8 seconds. Top speed is listed at 197 mph.

If this isn’t enough to shock your heart into action, defibrillate with the knowledge the V10 engine is electronically limited at the top end, meaning without regulation, it could go even faster.

Stopping power comes via large 4-wheel ventilated and perforated disc brakes equipped with ABS, EBD and BA, (brake assist). Push the pedal hard to the floor and braking from any speed to zero miles per hour is nearly instantaneous.

Tires sizes are immense. Ten-spoke Y design 19-inch alloy wheels are shod with 235/45/19 low profile rubber at the front and enormous 295/30/19 rubber in the rear. Stand behind the R8 5.2 FSI and the sight of that much rubber is sure to inspire longer drives than may be required to pick up the groceries… or get to the office. Don’t worry, your boss will understand.

CRISP HANDLING WITH QUATTRO ALL-WEEL DRIVE

The word “quattro” means four in Italian. Trademarked by Audi as a moniker for four-wheel drive, it has earned a reputation as the gold standard by which all similar systems are ranked. Originally introduced in 1980, today’s quattro cars and SUVs are a technological masterpiece. Designed for supreme control in all types of weather and driving conditions, the Audi R8 5.2 FSI takes all-wheel driving to the extreme. S-turns quickly become straight lines with only a slight twist. Arrow straight highways are nothing more than an excuse to put the pedal down and let the revs build to a crescendo.

On dry pavement, asphalt is consumed at an alarming rate. Miles fly by; an endless succession of weighted steering wheel maneuvers and gated gear shifting.

While my preference for the supercars of today is to paddle-shift from the steering wheel, the R8’s gated shifter is so good it reminded me that nothing beats the simple joy of driving “old school.”

A dominant automobile on waterless roads, it is in the rain where the Audi R8 5.2 FSI truly shines. Wet pavement offers little resistance to the power of quattro All-Wheel Drive mounted below a supremely powerful, high torque V10 engine.

Hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering increases wheel resistance slightly as speed increases. In this way, it provides pinpoint accuracy in even the tightest turn. All the while, near perfect weight balance and Z-rated tires channel away the wet. After a few hours, I found myself longing for dark skies filled with moisture and flashes of lightning. Something evil this way comes and it rides on Pirelli P-Zero rubber.

CREATURE COMFORTS HIGHTEN THE EXPERIENCE

Inside the passenger compartment, fine Nappa leather sport seats grab in all the right places. A 3-spoke “race” steering wheel is flat on the bottom, increasing thigh to wheel room for general driving. It also acts as a simple reminder for centering the steering wheel when driving fast.

Both the speedometer and tachometer are hooded to decrease glare. And shying away from exaggerated gadgetry, simple white on black gauges surrounded by a thin red line provide the necessary information. From a driver’s standpoint, it couldn’t be more user-friendly.

Standard features include automatic climate control, rain and light sensors, electronic cruise control and heated outside mirrors to name a few. Bluetooth phone capability and DVD navigation is included, as are heated seats and dual cupholders. For those times when the staccato of a singing V10 behind your head isn’t enough, Bang & Olufsen provide the sound.

THE VERDICT

It is safe to say that in today’s world no one needs a supercar. But desire, not need is the true driver of automobile sales at this end of the market, so throw that argument right out the window.

The Audi R8 5.2 FSI is a masterpiece of space age design and technology. Limited in numbers, it is proof positive a supercar doesn’t have to be terrifying to drive or completely out of reach to own. In fact, the R8’s starting price of $146,000 (a $30,000 premium over the V8 model) is well-below other exotics.

A supercar should be fast and fun to drive. The V10-powered R8 is all that, while being incredibly easy to drive. And with Audi’s incredible quattro setup, one could even call the R8 “forgiving.”

Simply put, the R8 5.2 FSI stands head and shoulders above the competition as one of the very best.

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