Used 2015 Audi R8 Convertible Review
Highlighted by its iconic styling and unusually accessible performance, the 2015 Audi R8 maintains its special status as a midengine exotic sports car that you can drive every day of the week.
Some exotic cars look amazing for a year or two, then appear as caricatures of themselves, pinned to a bygone era. That's not the case with the enduringly appealing Audi R8. Even eight years past the original debut, the 2015 R8 still rubberizes necks and inspires breathless social media posts. And from behind the wheel, it still cashes the check written by those daring looks. Think of the R8 as almost everything that Audi does well -- all-wheel drive, smooth and powerful engines, benchmark interiors -- distilled into one potent pill.
The R8 has some genuine Italian ancestry, sharing certain structural and mechanical elements with the dearly departed Lamborghini Gallardo, and those supercar genes are readily apparent as soon as you hit the open road. Boasting aluminum-intensive construction, with the engine located amidships and the all-wheel-drive system biased toward the rear, the R8 provides the kind of telepathic responsiveness one would expect from a smaller, more elemental sports car. Power flows from a high-revving V8 or V10, the latter sourced from Lamborghini, and the standard transmission is a throwback exposed-gate six-speed manual. For those who want the convenience of an automatic, the dual-clutch automated manual known as S tronic provides lightning-quick, perfectly executed shifts on demand (and better fuel economy to boot).
As enthralling as the R8 is to drive at a racetrack, we've always loved how it drives in mundane situations, too. Specifically, it offers decent ride comfort, exceptional outward visibility and comfortable seats, plus barely perceptible gearchanges with S tronic in automatic mode. It's a supercar you could easily drive every day, and that's not true of all contestants in this class. Of course, if you're considering the R8, chances are you've already got a daily driver or three, but it's nice to know the versatility's there if you want it.
As you might expect of an eight-year-old two-seater with an engine behind the headrests, there are some drawbacks. Storage space is at a premium for one thing, making the R8 a poor choice for a long road trip unless you're flying solo. And although Audi has given the R8's MMI electronics interface a few updates over the years, it's an older design that's much less ergonomic and advanced than the latest iteration available in other Audi models.
Even so, the 2015 Audi R8 shines brightly among exotic cars, including those that cost tens of thousands more. Whether you're shopping it against the 2015 Porsche 911 with its umpteen different models, the stunning but less capable 2014 BMW i8 hybrid, or higher-end exotics such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Lamborghini Huracan and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT, the R8 retains its relevance as dream car of the highest order.
trim levels & features
The 2015 Audi R8 is a two-seat midengine exotic supercar available in Coupe and Spyder (convertible) body styles. The Spyder models are equipped similarly to their Coupe counterparts, but they add a power-operated soft top and a retractable rear window that doubles as a wind deflector. There are five available trim levels: V8, V10, the Coupe-only V10 Plus and V10 Competition, and the Spyder-only V10 Carbon.
Standard equipment on the V8 includes staggered-width 19-inch wheels with summer tires, an adaptive suspension, heated power-folding side mirrors, a speed-activated rear spoiler, cruise control, full LED exterior lighting (headlights, engine compartment and taillights), automatic climate control, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer with a lap timer, heated eight-way power seats (with four-way power lumbar support), leather and faux suede upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connection and a seven-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
Options on the V8 start with a DVD-based (yes, really) navigation system, an iPod interface (which deletes the CD changer) and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Extended premium leather trim is also available, optionally with diamond stitching and a faux-suede headliner (the latter is also a stand-alone option). A parking system adds front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Red brake calipers can be specified unless you want the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, whose calipers only come in gray. The Black Optic package adds titanium-finish 19-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior details (including the exhaust tips).
The V10 trim gets different suspension tuning, different wheels, the parking system and a handful of the V8's optional interior luxuries as standard (premium leather upholstery, faux-suede headliner, navigation and Bang & Olufsen audio). The V10 Carbon (Spyder-only) features a higher-output version of the V10 engine, the ceramic brake package, and carbon-fiber trim on the door sills, engine compartment, spoiler, diffuser and mirror housings. Otherwise, the V10 shares the V8's options list with the exception of an exclusive sport exhaust for S tronic models.
The coupe-only V10 Plus also features the higher-output engine, a front diffuser, the carbon-ceramic brakes and an abundance of carbon-fiber trim pieces. But for further weight savings, it has a smaller fuel tank (19.8 gallons), reverts to the base stereo and deletes the adaptive suspension, heated power-folding mirrors and power seats (though power lumbar is still included). The power seats and upgraded stereo can be added back at extra cost, and the leather upgrades are also offered on V10 Plus, as is the sport exhaust (S tronic only).
The limited-edition R8 Competition (coupe only) offers the highest-output V10 available in the R8 lineup along with several aesthetic exterior trim upgrades that include matte-carbon "sideblades," sport exhaust and the aforementioned red brake calipers.
performance & mpg
The 2015 Audi R8 V8 is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 mounted behind the passenger compartment that sends 430 hp and 317 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. A six-speed manual transmission with an exposed-gate metal shifter is standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual, known as S tronic, is optional and includes steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. In Edmunds performance testing, the R8 V8 Coupe with the six-speed manual went from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for both body styles rings in at 14 mpg combined (11 city/20 highway) with the manual and 17 mpg combined (14/23) 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 (12/19) with the manual and 16 mpg combined (13/22) with the automatic.
The R8 V10 Plus and V10 Carbon boost 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.
Finally, the R8 V10 Competition (coupe only) tops the range with 570 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It is equipped exclusively with the S Tronic transmission, and Audi estimates that it will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, side airbags and knee airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional with the V8 and standard with the V10.
In past Edmunds brake testing, multiple Audi R8s have come to a stop from 60 mph between 104 and 106 feet. Meanwhile, a 2014 R8 V10 Plus with the carbon-ceramic brakes came to a halt in 106 feet. That's respectable, but still a few feet longer than the amazingly short distances some rivals can register.
The 2015 Audi R8 rides firmly but assuredly thanks to its adaptive suspension, though road noise is pronounced relative to most other Audis. By exotic-car standards, however, it's a remarkably comfortable daily driver. Low seating height notwithstanding, outward visibility in the R8 is especially good in all directions. On twisting roads, the R8's exquisitely refined 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 R8 V10 adds an appreciable amount, as well as a uniquely racy soundtrack. But even the V8 is one of the best-sounding and most tractable engines we've experienced. Unlike the slow-witted and duly criticized single-clutch R tronic gearbox offered in past years, the dual-clutch S tronic automated manual is admirably quick and easy to use around town. The classic manual shifter is so rewarding to row, though, that you're going to have a hard time turning it down.
Unless you spend an unusual amount of time at the racetrack, where hundredths of a second actually means something, we see little reason to pay the premium Audi charges for the R8 V10 Plus and Competition. Despite the fact that the V10 Plus model earned an "A" rating from us, its weight-reduction regimen also reduces some of the R8's everyday appeal, and the value proposition is questionable at best. Although well-suited to 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.
The R8 has a finely crafted cabin with top-notch materials. The lightweight seats are comfortable for long-distance travel, and the driving position suits a wide range of people -- not a given in this class. We like the center stack's elegant swoop away from the driver, but this means that some controls require an inconvenient reach. Additionally, the navigation and audio controls are operated by a rather finicky dash-mounted MMI knob and a constellation of buttons located beneath the display screen. Compared with the electronics interface in a Porsche 911, for example, the R8's is noticeably antiquated.
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).
The Spyder models' convertible soft top can 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.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.