Audi's signature R8 exotic sports car is fully redesigned for the 2017 model year. The new car still looks very familiar, but there are plenty of changes elsewhere that help boost the car's performance and everyday appeal.
Audi is still borrowing basic hardware for the R8 from Lamborghini, but now the Huracan is the source rather than the Gallardo. Though the R8 remains all-wheel drive, there have been some key drivetrain changes for 2017. The base V8 engine is gone, so the previously optional 5.2-liter V10 powerplant is the only choice. And the traditional manual transmission is gone, along with its throwback gated metal shifter, leaving only the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The R8 comes in two trim levels, V10 and V10 Plus. The base V10 edition's engine is rated at 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, while the power behind the V10 Plus is boosted to 610 hp and 413 pound-feet of torque. The mightier engine vaults the R8 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds; the base version is just a bit behind at 3.5 seconds.
If the R8's exterior was not in need of change, that wasn't the case inside, where the speedy Audi was a snapshot of mid-2000s design. For 2017, the R8 employs Audi's Virtual Cockpit instrument panel, a 12.3-inch display screen in front of the driver that shows a virtual analog speedometer and tachometer, with infotainment functions displayed between those gauges.
This eliminates the need for a display in the middle of the dashboard and gives the R8's cockpit a streamlined, focused atmosphere, without the visual distraction of that commonplace LCD screen. Audi has followed Ferrari's lead by adding the starter button and drive mode selector to the steering wheel, in the fashion of modern race cars. There is also a 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system for audio entertainment, which thankfully now includes USB inputs to connect your phone.
What is surprisingly missing for such a high-end model, however, are increasingly common advanced safety technologies such as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and collision mitigation with automatic braking. But we're guessing that with one full-throttle blast of the V10 engine, you're not going to be too worried about that. Use the additional information on Edmunds to help you find the perfect 2017 Audi R8.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.