out of 10

With supercar looks and performance, the 2014 Audi R8 is unique in the company's range, and not just because it's mid-engined--and not just because Audi decided to skip the R8's 2013 model year entirely and land right in 2014.

Although familiar features like quattro all-wheel drive are standard, the 2014 Audi R8's performance sets it apart from the rest of the brand, even the impressive and capable RS range.

In base V-8 form, a 430-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8, the R8's acceleration is brisk and consistent. Handling is nearly exquisite, with just a slight bias toward understeer. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while an all-new (and brilliant) dual-clutch transmission is available. We'd opt for the dual-clutch's telepathic downshifts over the joy of rowing our own cogs, but Audi expects about 40 percent of buyers to take the manual route.

Next in the range is the R8 V10 coupe. With 525 horsepower on tap, the V10 immediately feels stronger. The sound of the V-10 engine at...

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