So we had an R8, one of two fleet vehicles on the entire West Coast. We'd read the Brits' assessment of what they called the German Lamborghini, and we read the American books' exclusive R8 vs. 911 shootouts, none of which turned out to be so exclusive after all.
We've all seen the numbers, heard the conjecture, the speculation. Nothing you see on paper can actually prepare you for the R8. Or necessarily does it justice.
We decided to take it on a whirlwind tour of Los Angeles to gauge public reaction. Saturday evening sunset on Santa Monica pier usually draws a pretty big crowd. You can drive right out onto the planks and park, but we pull the R8 into an unoccupied corner and wait for people to gather.
Nobody on the pier seems to have a clue. Most people just know it's exotic, and the camera phones swarm. One guy even comes out of nowhere and starts filming with a little digital video camera. I wave amicably, hoping for my 15 minutes on the 11 o'clock news.
My heart drops as the police take a good long look on their way out, but they don't make me move, however illegally parked I may be. Not long after they leave, a firetruck pulls alongside and a burly fireman walks up to the driver's window. He looks the spitting image of Michael Clarke Duncan. You know, the huge guy in The Green Mile who looks like he could rip your arms off and beat you over the head with them. I touch the window button, the glass glides silently into the door.
"I was told to commandeer a car, so I picked this one." Seeing my utter terror, he can't keep a straight face. Breaking into a huge gleaming grin, he shakes my hand and invites us back to the station.
We take a brief segue to the fire station and BS with the guys a little bit, then continue our journey. Driving through Hollywood, it's clear people still want to gawk, but in this part of town nobody wants you to know they're gawking. More stealthy glances than overt rubber-necking. A few guys who know exactly what they're looking at approach and strike up conversations. One of them catches us staking out a club across the way on Sunset Boulevard. He even volunteers to block traffic for us while we park in the valet lane. We think he's joking-until I look over my shoulder and see him standing in the middle of the street, directing traffic around himself into the middle lane.
This guy is crazy.
Bottom line-pick up an R8 and your popularity will improve, exponentially so. Even if it is only with the guys (consider yourself warned).
From The Hip
+Amazing engine, incredible exhaust note, amazing looks
-Car guys won't leave you alone
2008 AUDI R8
Longitudinal mid-engine, all-wheel drive
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve
Peak Power: 420 hp @ 8250 rpm
Peak Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.6 sec.
Top Speed: 187 mph