Audi of America
Driving the Audi R8
The Audi R8 is known for its superb handling characteristics. While part of that is due to its mid-mounted engine, that's not the entire story.
To understand how a mid-mounted engine helps improve a car's handing, stand up. When you stand up straight, most of your weight is centered over your feet, making you stable and secure. Now, lean way forward, and try to walk. You start to teeter, and it's tougher to keep control -- especially if you're trying to walk fast.
It's the same thing with cars. A car's engine -- even if it's an all-aluminum super-light engine like the one in the R8 -- is by far the biggest chunk of weight the car carries. If you can keep that weight low and centered between the car's wheels (which act as its "feet"), then the car is that much more stable, especially at high speeds.
But the R8 has another handling trick going for it. The R8 comes standard with Audi's famous Quattro all-wheel drive system. Now, you might be thinking that all-wheel drive is best saved for snowy days, but it also gives a car stronger handling when the weather is dry.
All-wheel drive means all-wheel fun on dry days because it spreads the car's power through all four wheels. That means the car can shift power to the wheels that need it through the curves. On the R8, up to 35 percent of the power can be shifted to the front wheels, giving it better grip no matter the weather.
What may surprise you about driving the R8 is that it's actually comfortable. A lot of exotics are engineered for the track first and the road second. The R8 actually does well on both, which makes it slightly more practical than your average supercar. Of course, supercar lust isn't built on practicality. A lot of it is built on looks.
Keep reading to learn more about the R8's exterior styling, including the new R8 Spyder.