A Lamborghini for the working rich.
Even in its sixth year, the mid-engine R8 is still capable of turning heads at rotational speeds that rival its engines’ lofty redlines: 8200 rpm for the 4.2-liter V-8, 8700 rpm for the 5.2-liter V-10. With either engine, this aluminum masterpiece is as spectacular to drive as it is to look at. Both the V-8 and the V-10 models offer a six-speed manual that is a pleasure to master, as its metal external shift gate makes a satisfying clack-clack when you row through the gears. Previously, the R8’s paddle-shift automatic was a jerky, single-clutch unit that sapped everyday usability. No more. Finally, Audi has upgraded the R8 to the seven-speed, dual-clutch S Tronic. The S Tronic is also fractionally quicker than the manual: 4.3 seconds to 60 mph in the V8 coupe versus 4.6 for the manual, and an astounding 3.6 seconds from 0 to 60 mph in the V10 coupe versus a still-incredible 3.9 seconds with the manual. There are few cars that compete with the R8’s presence, exclusivity, and performance. Imbued with a bit more of all three is the R8 V10 Plus, which has a 550-hp version of the V-10, additional standard equipment, and various unique visuals. If you prefer your supercars topless, unfortunately the V10 Plus is not an option (it’s coupe only) but the R8 Spyder can be had in both V8 and V10 form.
Ferrari 458 Italia
new for 2013
Last year’s top-dog GT was a limited edition and is gone. The new Plus V10 is now the ultimate R8. It gets a 25-hp boost, as well as special equipment inside and out. The neatest feature might be the LED illumination of the engine compartment — it’s available on other R8s as an option. All models get LED headlights, LED rear turn signals, a black-framed grille, and a larger rear diffuser.
Front, side, and knee air bags; traction and stability control; and ABS are standard. A rearview camera is available.
Overweight despite aluminum
Lacks the panache of a Ferrari
Base Price Range: $118,450–$213,650
TRIM LEVELS: R8 V8, R8 Spyder V8, R8 V10, R8 Spyder V10, R8 Plus V10
BODY STYLES: Coupe, convertible, 2-passenger
ENGINES: 4.2L V-8, 430 hp, 317 lb-ft
5.2L V-10, 525/550 hp, 391/398 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 7-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: (trunk/behind seats) 3.5/3.2 cu ft