Cool car of the week: Audi R8

(Photo: Tom Jensen/FOX Sports)
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Thanks to the 2017 Audi R8, I’ve figured out what I’ll buy when I finally win Powerball.

The R8 is a fabulous sports car and the halo car for Audi and all of its fine German technology.

Armed with a 5.2-liter, 540-horsepower V-10 engine mounted in the center of the car and connected to a 7-speed S Tronic transmission and Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive systems, the R8 has serious supercar street cred.

The numbers, as you would expect, are stellar: Accelerating from a standing start to 60 miles per hour takes just 3.5 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 199 mph.

Mash the throttle at almost any speed and the engine responds instantaneously with a sudden rush forward and loud, but sonically pleasing roar. This is the kind of car that you dreamed about actually driving when you were video games as a teenager — pure performance and outstanding reflexes make the R8 a delight to wheel at speed.

Realistically, to extract anywhere near the level of performance the R8 is capable of, you need to put it on a racetrack, where its limits can be tested to the fullest. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to a track, so I can’t opine about its handling at the ultimate limits of its adhesion, but I’m confident and comfortable in saying that they must be quite good.

My time with the R8 consisted mostly of suburban and highway driving, not the car’s ideal environment. That said, for a car with the R8’s performance capabilities, it was very easy — surprisingly easy, in fact — to live with as a daily driver.

While getting in and out of the low-slung R8 takes a bit of work, particularly if you’re not small or naturally limber, once you’re inside, the cockpit is a very comfortable and inviting place. Even at 6’4”, I had more than enough headroom, and visibility wasn’t a problem, either.

The thick and meaty steering wheel has the starter button built in, which is very cool, and the seating position is excellent for hard driving. All the controls fall right in hand and are easy to operate, something that isn’t always true in expensive car.

As far as the exterior goes, suffice to say the R8 is a head turner. Even in the relatively low-key white paint scheme the test car came in, it drew attention and admiration everywhere it went.

Of course, none of this goodness comes cheap.

The R8 starts at $162,500, which, coincidentally, is the median home price in both the state of South Dakota and Tallahassee, Florida.

Our tester also came with the carbon exterior package ($5,500), carbon interior package ($3,400), diamond-stitch leather package ($5,000), 20-inch wheel package ($1,500), dynamic steering ($1,400) and red brake calipers.

Add in the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax and $1,250 for destination charges and our tested carried a sticker price of $183,050, or the same as the median home price in Atlanta.

Still, if you can afford it, the R8 is tremendous fun to drive. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s worth every penny of the price and that makes it a good value.

Base price/as tested: $162,900/$183,050
Type: All-wheel drive, mid-engined sports car
Engine: 5.2-liter V-10
Horsepower: 540
Torque: 398 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 7-speed S Tronic
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,649 pounds
0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
Top speed: 199 mph
Mileage: 14 mpg city/22 highway

(Photo: Audi)
(Photo: Tom Jensen/FOX Sports)