The Audi R8 came about as a production version of the Le Mans Quattro concept car. The name itself references Audi's R8 racecar that won several 24 Hours of Le Mans races and encompasses the brand's 70-plus years of racing history. Performance from the R8 road car starts with a stiff and lightweight all-aluminum space frame chassis. Much of it is similar to the space frame used for the Lamborghini Gallardo. The R8 is advanced in other areas as well, with a direct-injected V8 or V10 engine with dry-sump lubrication, two-mode active dampers and, of course, all-wheel drive.
Despite being Audi's highest-performing production vehicle ever, the R8 is surprisingly comfortable enough for daily use. The R8 also boasts a roomy and high-quality interior, though it is getting a bit dated as time goes on. As far as exotic sports cars go, the R8 is one of the most livable and one that is easy to recommend.
Current Audi R8
The Audi R8 is a two-seat midengine exotic sports car available in multiple trim levels: V8 coupe and convertible (Spyder), V10 coupe and convertible, and V10 Plus coupe.
The R8 V8 features a 4.2-liter V8 making 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. The R8 V10 gets a 5.2-liter V10 with 525 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The top-dog R8 V10 Plus coupe packs an even more powerful 5.0-liter V10 good for 550 hp and 398 lb-ft. All-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission with a gated metal shifter is standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (S tronic) with paddle shifters is optional. All are very quick, with 0-60 times ranging from just 3.4 to 4.5 seconds.
As with most vehicles that have the engine mounted behind the driver, the R8 possesses an abbreviated nose that is adorned with the current corporate Audi grille and LED headlights. The exotic look of the R8 coupe is further enhanced by "sideblades" (which can be either color-keyed or contrasting), that highlight the mid-mounted engine, and a glass engine cover that shows off the beautiful V8 or V10 power plant.
Standard equipment on the Audi R8 V8 includes 19-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension, full LED lighting, automatic climate control, heated power seats, leather and faux suede upholstery, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. An optional package features front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and interior storage nets. The R8 V10 includes all that, as well as different suspension tuning, premium leather upholstery, a navigation system and a Bang & Olufsen audio system. The R8 V10 Plus includes all the V10 coupe equipment plus a higher-output engine, carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fiber trim. To trim weight, it has a smaller fuel tank and deletes the adaptive suspension and power seats.
In reviews, we've found the R8 sublimely balanced in terms of handling. It is one of those rare vehicles with enough straight-line traction and cornering grip to match its high-performance engines. It's also a relatively practical sports car, mercifully free of those questionable design elements that make some other supercars impossibly taxing in real-world use. It doesn't have goofy scissor doors, for instance, and 6-footers will fit comfortably. The Audi R8 even rides astonishingly well, thanks to its two-mode adaptive dampers. Meanwhile, the interior is typical Audi, with top-grade materials and solid construction, but the MMI electronics interface is now a generation behind and mounted somewhat awkwardly under the display screen. If there is a downside, it would be the tiny trunk and limited interior cargo spaces that make the R8 a dubious choice for road trips.
Used Audi R8 Models
The R8 debuted for the 2008 model year with the 420-hp, 4.2-liter V8 engine only. Transmission choices were a traditional six-speed manual with a very cool gated metal shifter or Audi's six-speed R tronic single-clutch automated manual that was unrefined and caused lots of jerking about in mundane urban driving. The 525-hp 5.2-liter V10 arrived for 2010, while the following year saw the convertible "Spyder" debut and the V8 gain 10 hp. For 2012, the limited-edition R8 GT coupe was produced and it featured a 560-hp V10, a lighter curb weight and a stiffer suspension. Only 90 R8 GTs were made for the United States. There was no R8 for the 2013 model year.
These 2010 and later versions of the R8 4.2 and 5.2 are similar to today's models apart from differing in their head- and taillight designs and having the single-clutch automated manual versus the current car's smoother dual-clutch unit.
Read the most recent 2015 Audi R8 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Audi R8 page.