2008: Audi R8
“Perhaps you could see this one coming, since the R8 has absolutely captivated the automotive world this past year. We’ll admit to being more than a little turned on from the first time we saw it, at the 2006 Paris auto show. Technical editor Don Sherman’s report after his initial drive of the R8 in the Nevada desert last winter confirmed our high expectations. When an R8 arrived in Ann Arbor in the spring, it set the whole office abuzz, such that we barely gave the car a chance to cool down over its four-day visit.
“But the R8 was perhaps most impressive during our Automobile of the Year test drive over the deepest backcountry byways of southeastern Ohio. By turns thrilling, poised, comfortable, fast, fluid, composed, and enormously capable, the R8 absolutely captivated everyone who got behind its flat-bottomed steering wheel. On that drive, the R8 proved itself to be a great real-world sports car, in the vein of the Porsche 911 Turbo. At the same time, it’s also an otherworldly exotic, with every bit as much presence as a Ferrari.
“Audi signaled its intention to build an ultra-high-performance, mid-engine sports car with its Le Mans Quattro concept back in 2003. That car proved to be a dead ringer for today’s R8, and yet how many people took it seriously at the time? It’s safe to say that no one would make that mistake today. The R8 is not only a thrilling new sports car, but it’s a rolling testament to a company that’s stronger than it’s ever been, one that’s entering its golden age right now.”