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 really stands out via its interior, which is roomy and of high quality while also maintaining a modern design flair that is not normally associated with high-performance exotics.
Current Audi R8
The Audi R8 is available in both coupe and convertible body styles and also features a choice of two midmounted engines. The R8 4.2 Quattro features a 4.2-liter V8 that produces 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. The R8 5.2 Quattro gets a 5.2-liter V10 good for 525 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an all-wheel-drive system that has been tuned for rear-wheel-biased power delivery. Transmission choices are a standard six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed "R Tronic" single-clutch automated manual.
A coupe-only special edition R8 GT 5.2 is also available, but hardly attainable. Besides a $50,000 premium on top of the anything-but-regular R8 5.2, only 90 examples are destined for American shores. For the extra cost, you get a lighter curb weight, less sound insulation and a stiffer suspension. The GT utilizes the same 5.2-liter V10 but power output is increased to 560 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. The R Tronic automatic is the sole transmission choice.
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 bi-xenon headlamps. The exotic look of the R8 is further enhanced by a series of 12 LED lights that underscores the headlamp housings and act as daytime running lights. The styling of the aluminum body consists of chiseled flanks that lead your eye to the "sideblades" that highlight the mid-mounted engine. The rear styling is accented by a glass engine cover and additional use of LED lighting.
Standard equipment on the Audi R8 is comprehensive, with only a short list of available options. Standard features include active dampers, 19-inch alloy wheels, and power and heated leather/Alcantara sport seats. Major options include a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, navigation and upgraded leather upholstery and different finishes for the sideblades. These items are standard on the 5.2.
With the exception of the track-tuned GT, 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 dignified sports car, mercifully free of those elements that make other supercars impossibly taxing in real-world use. It doesn't have goofy scissor doors, and 6-footers will fit comfortably with room to spare. The Audi R8 even rides astonishingly well, thanks to its two-mode adaptive dampers. Meanwhile, the interior is typically Audi, with solid controls and an ergonomic design. If there are any downsides, it would be a tiny trunk and the automated manual transmission, which doesn't shift smoothly.
Used Audi R8 Models
The R8 debuted for the 2008 model year with the 420-hp, 4.2-liter V8 engine only. The 525-hp 5.2-liter V10 arrived for 2010. In 2011 the V8 gained 10 hp and the convertible "Spyder" debuted. The following year, the limited-edition R8 GT was introduced.
Read the most recent 2014 Audi R8 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Audi R8 page.