Used 2014 Audi R8 Convertible
Edmunds' Expert Review
With its iconic styling and accessible performance, the 2014 Audi R8 maintains its unique status as a midengine exotic sports car that you can drive every day of the week.
Since its debut for the 2008 model year, the Audi R8 has captivated the hearts of drivers and the public alike. With its rear-biased all-wheel drive, nearly telepathic responsiveness, lightweight aluminum-intensive construction and exotic pseudo-futuristic design, the R8 is the brand's first proper halo car for the United States. Of course, it hasn't hurt that the supercar has had a co-starring role in the Iron Man movie franchise as well.
At the core of every 2014 Audi R8 is a highly tuned V8 or V10 engine. While neither engine's output is exceptional for this class of car, they both sound exceptional and drive all four wheels through the R8's standard AWD system. One very positive development this year is the new "S tronic" dual-clutch automated manual transmission option. It replaces the car's previous "R tronic" single-clutch automated manual, which was notorious for its rough-shifting nature. Fortunately, Audi offers a traditional manual transmission for those who still like to row gears old-school style.
No matter who's doing the shifting, we've always loved how the Audi R8 drives. The engine's midship placement enhances the R8's responsiveness and visceral nature, and the steering, which is still hydraulic-assisted, provides great feel and responsiveness. Mostly, though, the R8 distinguishes itself from past and present supercars by providing all of this excellent performance without the sacrifices that other ultra high-performance cars require. Specifically, the R8 offers decent ride comfort, good outward visibility and comfortable seats. It's a supercar you can drive every day if you so desire.
Of course, there are some drawbacks, and they apply to the entire 2014 R8 lineup. Cargo space is limited, making the R8 a poor choice for a long road trip. And although Audi made a variety of changes this year, upgrading the car's electronics interface was unfortunately not one of them. As such, the outdated navigation system interface will have you pining for Audi's newer electronics suite.
Even with these drawbacks, the 2014 Audi R8 still shines brightly among exotic cars, including the ones that cost tens of thousands more. And keep in mind, there isn't a loser in this rarefied class. Whether you're shopping it against such comparatively affordable models as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, 2014 Nissan GT-R or 2014 Porsche 911, or higher-end exotics such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo, McLaren MP4-12C and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the R8 holds its own. It would be an appealing addition to any garage.
trim levels & features
The 2014 Audi R8 is a two-seat midengine exotic supercar available in V8 coupe and convertible (Spyder), V10 coupe and convertible, and V10 Plus coupe trim levels.
Standard equipment on the V8 coupe includes 19-inch wheels with summer tires, an adaptive suspension, cruise control, full LED lighting, automatic climate control, heated eight-way power seats (with four-way power-adjustable lumbar), leather and faux suede upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. The Convenience package adds front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, power-folding mirrors and interior storage nets. Carbon-ceramic brakes, a fully leather-upholstered interior (extra for diamond stitching), a faux suede headliner, a navigation system, an iPod interface (deletes the CD changer) and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system are also available.
The V8 convertible adds an electrically powered soft top and a retractable rear window that doubles as a wind deflector. The R8 V10 convertible has those features plus a V10 engine, different suspension tuning, different wheels, the Convenience package, premium leather, the navigation system and the Bang & Olufsen audio system. The R8 V10 coupe has all of these standard amenities as well.
The coupe-only R8 V10 Plus model includes all the V10 coupe equipment plus a higher-output engine, the carbon-ceramic brakes and an abundance of carbon-fiber trim pieces. But for further weight savings, it has a smaller fuel tank and deletes the adaptive suspension and power seats.
Further model-wide R8 options include a variety of carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim packages. The coupes can be equipped with alternate "side blade" finishes.
performance & mpg
The 2014 Audi R8 V8 is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 mounted behind the passenger compartment that sends 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque through an AWD system. A six-speed manual transmission with a gated metal shifter is standard, while a new seven-speed double-clutch automated manual, known as S tronic, is optional and includes steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. In Edmunds performance testing, the R8 V8 with the gated manual transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy rings in at 14 mpg combined (11 mpg city/20 mpg highway) with the manual and 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city/23 mpg highway) with S tronic.
Equipped with either transmission, the Audi R8 V10 boasts a 5.2-liter V10 that produces 525 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the V10 Coupe with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and the V10 Spyder, also with the manual, did it in 3.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 14 mpg combined (12 mpg city/19 mpg highway) with the manual and 16 mpg combined (13 mpg city/22 mpg highway) with S tronic.
The R8 V10 Plus boosts power output to 550 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. Either transmission is available. In Edmunds testing, an S tronic-equipped V10 Plus hustled to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (13 mpg city/22 mpg highway) or 14 mpg combined (12 mpg city/19 mpg highway) with the manual transmission.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, side airbags and knee airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard or optional, depending on the trim.
This year, to shed weight and aid in cooling, Audi has changed the design of the non-ceramic brake discs used on all models, except the V10 Plus. Before that change, in Edmunds brake testing, multiple Audi R8s have come to a stop from 60 mph between 104 and 106 feet, which is very good. Meanwhile, a 2014 R8 V10 Plus with the carbon-ceramic brakes came to a halt in 106 feet.
The 2014 Audi R8 rides firmly despite its adaptive suspension, and road noise is pronounced relative to most other Audis. But by exotic-car standards, the R8 is a remarkably comfortable and quiet daily driver. Low seating height notwithstanding, visibility is especially good in all directions. On twisting roads, the R8's preposterous power, quick reflexes and heroic grip conspire to make this 3,600-pound supercar feel as nimble as a lightweight roadster.
Speaking of power, the V10 adds an appreciable amount, as well as a uniquely racy soundtrack, but even the base V8 is one of the best-sounding and most tractable engines we've experienced. Unlike the slow-witted and duly criticized single-clutch gearbox offered in past years (and no longer available for 2014), the new dual-clutch automated manual is now the transmission of choice. Sure, the manual shifter is mechanically rewarding and visually stunning, but the quickness and infallibility of the automated manual is unbeatable in terms of true performance as well as comfort.
While the V10-powered R8 models have a performance advantage, it's hard to justify the additional outlay of cash in light of how slight the acceleration advantages are and how truly good the V8 versions are. Furthermore, unless you're spending an unusual amount of time at a racetrack, where hundredths of a second actually means something, we'd pass on the 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus as well. The V10 Plus' weight-reduction regimen reduces some of the R8's everyday appeal. Although well sorted for hard driving, its non-adaptive suspension doesn't deal as well with real-world conditions, and its carbon-ceramic brakes sometimes feel grabby and sound screechy.
There are several subtle changes to the Audi R8's interior for 2014. There's a thicker steering wheel rim with perforated trim and new shift paddles (S tronic only); available diamond-pattern stitching for the Napa leather seats; new gloss-black and genuine aluminum elements; and added leather trim in general. As in the past, the R8 has a finely crafted cabin with top-notch materials.
The lightweight R8 seats are comfortable for long-distance travel, and the driving position suits a wide range of people. We like the center stack's elegant swoop away from the driver, but this means that major controls require an inconvenient reach. Additionally, the navigation and audio controls are operated by an unintuitive, dash-mounted MMI knob and constellation of buttons located beneath the display screen. Compared with the electronic interfaces in the Mercedes SLS AMG and Porsche 911, the R8's is noticeably antiquated. One exceptionally clever idea, however, is the integration of the microphone for Bluetooth into the driver's seatbelt.
Audi says there's enough room behind the R8 coupe's seats for a pair of golf bags, but you'd have to be pretty hard-pressed for country club transport to try that. The 3.5-cubic-foot front trunk is awkwardly shaped and barely provides enough space for an overnight bag (a Porsche 911 feels like a minivan by comparison). As such, the R8 is not the best choice for a long-distance road trip.
The Spyder models' convertible soft top may be operated at speeds up to 31 mph. It takes roughly 20 seconds in either direction to transform. The Spyder's thermal-resistant leather seats effectively lower surface temperature, which is a nice attribute for open-top motoring.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
You may already know that Audi originally built the beautiful midengine R8 supercar to go after the Porsche 911.
But that was way back in 2007. Now Porsche is part of the extended Volkswagen family, along with Audi and Lamborghini, among others. With that in mind you would think Audi might back off from its original goal.
Audi didn't see it that way, though, and now the 2013 Audi R8's entry-level package finds itself sliding through gears with a new dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission, a little more power and a little more economy. It's an evolution, for sure, but one that comes with enough gadgets to make it every bit as interesting as the latest 911.
A Touch More Engine
The core of the base 4.2-liter V8 is essentially the same as it is in the 2012 model, with only mapping and software tweaks lifting it to 430 horsepower at the exact same 7,900 rpm power peak as before. The torque rating remains the same at 317 pound-feet between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm.
So, all in all, not much to see here.
That said, it's a lovely, dry-sump motor that does a brilliant job of belying its long-stroke layout to spin happily and freely out to the limiter at 8,250 rpm.
It's full of lovely stuff, too, with things like a forged crankshaft, forged con rods and forged aluminum pistons. It rests in an ultra-lightweight magnesium engine frame that is a stressed part of the chassis, and all of its oil, power steering and alternator drives run off the back of the engine.
A V10 engine remains an option as well. The standard tune delivers 525 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque and can be ordered with the new S tronic transmission or a manual in either coupe or spyder bodystyle. A new V10 Plus model has been added to the lineup as well. It comes only as a coupe and delivers 550 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It's lighter, too, by some 110 pounds thanks to standard ceramic brake discs, lighter carpet and various carbon-fiber parts like the front air dam, rear diffuser and even the side blades.
Finally, a Proper Automatic
While it will keep offering a six-speed manual for the die-hards, the seven-speed S tronic is not only smoother, but faster and more economical as well. And more expensive.
The seven-speeder is only 23.6 inches long (6 inches shorter than the old robotized manual) and hangs out the back of the engine (so it's almost the first thing destroyed if someone hits you from behind).
It's a dual-clutch setup, with gears 1, 3, 5 and 7 on one clutch and the rest on the other. Gears on both shafts are constantly hooked up and spinning, but only one clutch at a time is engaged. Seventh gear is the fuel economy cog, so the S tronic R8 actually hit its top speed in 6th gear.
It's a costlier thing to produce than the manual (no surprises there), so it will cost more. But it has launch control, which helps it to cut 0.3 second off the 0-62-mph sprint and the gearbox saves fuel, too, even though it's 55 pounds heavier than the three-pedal R8 V8.
The transmission is only half the battle, of course. Audi hasn't given the rest of the powertrain any significant alterations, so it keeps its viscous-coupling center diff for the all-wheel-drive system. When it's cruising or just pottering around, it feeds only 15 percent of the drive to the front wheels, but it can crank that up to 30 percent on demand. There is a mechanical limited-slip diff at the back, too, just in case all-wheel drive isn't enough traction.
There are double-wishbones all around and Audi has yet to bother the R8 with the electric power steering systems that soaked up so much of Porsche's engineering resources in the new 911's development. Instead, it stuck with power-assisted rack-and-pinion technology, complete with a 16.3:1 ratio.
The V8 rides on 18-inch wheels, with 235/45R18s up front and 285/35R18s at the back. Tire-pressure monitoring is standard, as is an ESP that can be on, flicked up a level for Sport and off altogether for track work. The up-and-down work is handled by fixed-rate dampers, though our test car had the optional magnetic adaptive dampers that are standard on the V10.
The brakes are truly impressive, with Audi adopting the layout of the RS 5's wave-cut discs for the V8. These started life in motorcycles and save about 4.4 pounds. The R8 clamps them with eight-piston calipers up front and four-piston units at the back. Carbon ceramics are optional, but it's a very expensive option, even if they chop out about 26 pounds and switch out the big caliper for a stiffer six-piston front caliper.
Still Easy To Tame
Fifty-seven percent of the 2013 Audi R8's weight hovers over the rear axle. What that weight distribution delivers to the R8 driver is sheer, unbridled agility. And you can't help smiling about it.
For all that, it's so civilized and so brilliantly organized that you'd have to be doing something extremely absurd to crash one. It is a forgiving car for the ham-fisted, but that doesn't compromise its ability to challenge the skilled to push it ever harder.
Its magnetic adaptive damping helps and it's something we'd heavily recommend. It comes with two suspension modes (Normal and Sport; Comfort is conspicuous by its absence) and is disconnected from the R8's "other" Sport button that tightens up the gearshift times, the throttle response and the ESP setup while punching out more decibels from the exhaust. So, on a bumpy road, you can still drive quickly in powertrain Sport while you're wafting along in Normal suspension modes. That's clever thinking.
The V8 won't rattle your windows on start-up either, and the standard mode is designed to give you some access to the wonderfully smooth and rich warble without it becoming a drone when you're cruising on highways. It's an engine so flexible that it's at home being dawdled in traffic or being flogged in the mountains. It's comfortable and strong at 2,000 rpm, and it's urgent and indulgent at 8,000 rpm.
The thing you don't notice is the S tronic seven-speeder. It's so utterly effective that it becomes invisible, especially when you're driving it around town. You don't feel new gears engage; you just hear a change in the engine note. It's better and smoother than most torque-converter automatics.
It flits through gears easily and without interruption and, in Sport mode, it adds a big, ribald throttle blip on the downshifts, too. The only quirk we could find was that, when we were in Manual mode trying to punch out of a corner on the engine's torque curve, it occasionally flared down to a gear we didn't ask for. Audi says it's working on it.
A Genuine Sports Car
Above all else, the 2013 Audi R8 is supposed to be a sports car. And it still is. Even though sports cars aren't supposed to ride beautifully, the R8 does, but it doesn't compromise that stuff it's supposed to do at its core.
It can be hurled deep into corners but the brakes, with their oddball wave pattern around the outer edge of the disc, are more than enough to smash its nose down toward the tarmac. It's not just the power of the brakes, but the stability of the chassis under extreme braking that's every bit as impressive.
The steering, on the other hand, is a slight disappointment. They might have targeted the 911, but the front end's feel coming into a corner as it nibbles away toward the apex or chomps its way out the other side is nothing like the Porsche can offer.
We can live with the shortfall in tactile feedback, but the bigger issue is just how slow the steering is in slow corners. It isn't by accident, because Audi knows these things punch down the Autobahn regularly and slow steering equals easy high-speed stability, but it's a compromise that will bite everywhere else in the world.
You regularly arrive at slow bends in the mountains and turn the wheel. Then turn it a little more. Then turn it even more again. Everything else about the car handles intuitively and instinctively — except the steering, and that slightly mars a brilliant chassis package. It doesn't slow it down; it's just a speck of mud on a diamond.
Nearly a Grand Tourer, Too
You don't buy an R8 so you can spread out in acres of leather, but there's a surprising amount of space inside the curvy, low-roofed cabin. The legroom isn't bad, even for the tall, and there's no shortage of headroom.
The biggest surprise is how comfortable the R8 has become. There's a pair of cupholders behind your gear-shifting elbow and the diamond-quilted stitching on the electrically operated leather seats looks as fabulous as it does on the roof and the doors. With the flat-bottomed steering wheel, the flawless stitching of the leather dashboard and the deep carpet, the 2013 Audi R8 is suddenly as much a grand tourer as it is a sports car.
Sure, its 3.5 cubic feet of luggage capacity is hardly cavernous, but that's hardly the point. It's good enough to stuff the largest acceptable carry-on bag, a computer bag and a couple of jackets inside it, which is more than enough for this kind of car. Besides, there's another 3.2 cubic feet behind the seats, if you can be bothered moving them forward and sliding your golf clubs past the door frames.
A Solid Second Effort
Like the original version, the revised 2013 Audi R8 works on many levels. In its normal mode, it's quiet enough to drive every day, and for a long way every day. Drive it calmly and it will respond with an equally calm cabin, ride and personality.
When you need to turn up the wick, however, this R8 responds better than ever. The combination of the new transmission, adaptive suspension and always usable power add up to a sweetie of a sports car. But don't tell Audi that. It was out to create a 911-eating bad boy. Hard to tell just yet if it has succeeded.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2014 Audi R8 Convertible Overview
The Used 2014 Audi R8 Convertible is offered in the following styles: V10 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 7AM), V8 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (4.2L 8cyl 6M), V10 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6M), and V8 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (4.2L 8cyl 7AM).
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