As before, the all-wheel-drive 2017 R8 is based on a sister car from Lamborghini. This time, it is the new Huracan, which is a replacement for the discontinued Gallardo. Gone, for better or worse, are the original R8's sultry base V8 engine and distinctive exposed-gate manual transmission. With the new R8, you can have any powertrain you like as long as it's a screaming Lamborghini-derived 5.2-liter V10 paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. There are probably a few people who will lament the loss of the old-school manual, but there's so much greatness with the precise S tronic automated gearbox that's it hard to really complain.
Of more significance, in fact, is what has happened on the inside of the 2017 R8. The first-generation's cabin layout and features had become rather dated the past few years, so the 2017 R8's interior gets a full-strength dose of Audi's cutting-edge design and technology. The gauge cluster facing the driver is filled by the company's unique Virtual Cockpit, a high-resolution 12.3-inch screen that dynamically resizes the speedometer and tachometer to render infotainment functions in between. As with the new Audi TT, this solution obviates the need for a separate display elsewhere, so the R8's dashboard is refreshingly uncluttered. Also of note is the new steering wheel, which boasts Ferrari-style integrated buttons for ignition and driving-mode selection.
If you're shopping for a sports car in this price range, we envy the options before you. The current Porsche 911 Turbo has enjoyed incremental improvements during its run, and this includes further enhancements for 2017. If you like the sound and fury of a supercharged V8, the world-class Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a true performance bargain, while the Jaguar F-Type SVR coupe punches out 575 hp and comes paired with all-wheel drive. Arguably the car you'll want to pay the most attention to, though, will be Acura's hot new NSX, which packs a 550-hp gas-electric hybrid powertrain and the promise of Honda/Acura reliability and usability.
Clearly, there's no shortage of tantalizing choices here, but the 2017 Audi R8 certainly makes a strong case for being your everyday supercar.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 R8 includes antilock brakes, stability control, side airbags, knee airbags and head curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are also standard.
Somewhat surprisingly, advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation with automatic braking are unavailable.