Audi R8 coupe
Price £119,500 - £134,500
- Head-turning looks
- V10 engine sound
- Predictable handling at high speeds
- Limited storage space
- High running costs
- No cheaper V8 option
At a glance
"The second generation of the popular Audi R8 supercar has returned with a bang."
Its cracking 5.2-litre V10 engine produces 532bhp in standard configuration, while the hardcore Plus version ups that figure to 602bhp. The R8 has Audi's famous quattro four-wheel-drive system as standard to provide loads of grip on the road or race track, while the slick seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox snaps into gears with lightning speed.
Inside, you’re cocooned in leather, carbon-fibre and aluminium. The minimalistic dashboard wraps around you and all of the information you could ever need is presented on a ‘Virtual Cockpit’ screen in the dash.
That hugely powerful engine and prices starting from £120,000 means the Audi R8 is far from cheap to run or buy, but for the money you get futuristic-yet-familiar looks, pristine build quality and a top speed of 205mph.
Although it's not practical, the R8 does at least come with a small boot and enough storage space for a weekend away, while the automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive system mean it's undemanding in everyday traffic.
We’d choose the Plus version in a heartbeat, simply because when you’re paying this much for a supercar, you might as well go for the best one you can. The additional power provides the ultimate bragging rights, but may only be noticeable if you take the R8 on a trackday.
The Audi R8 has returned with a bang and it's as brilliant as the original version was on launch in 2007 – but only if you can stump up at least £120,000 and have enough spare cash to run it from day to day.
MPG, running costs & CO2
A £130,000 supercar like the R8 will never be cheap to run
No matter which way you look at it, the R8 won’t be cheap to run. Its enormous 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine is a technical masterpiece, but still has a less-than-stellar fuel economy figure. It can return up to 23.9mpg, while the more hardcore Plus version is capable of up to 22.8mpg.
CO2 emissions of 275 and 289 grams per kilometre for the standard and Plus cars respectively mean that you’ll pay a whopping £505 in annual road tax, while the maximum insurance group of 50 means the R8 won’t be cheap to cover, either.
In comparison, the Jaguar F-Type R in four-wheel-drive form is capable of around 25mpg, while the Porsche 911 Turbo, which also has four-wheel drive, can manage up to 29.1mpg.
On the plus side, Audi is promising an all-electric R8 e-tron at some point, which should be able to do 300 miles on a single charge.
Engines, drive & performance
Characterful and powerful engine is teamed with excellent grip and handling
If you want drama from your supercar, the Audi R8 won’t disappoint. The 5.2-litre V10 engine comes in two power outputs: 532bhp in the standard model or 602bhp in the Plus. Either one will set your pulse racing and barks into life the moment you press the starter button. 0-62mph is dealt with in just 3.2 seconds and the R8’s top speed is a dizzying 205mph.
Regardless of which version you choose, the R8 has Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. For extra involvement, you can shift gears yourself using the paddles on the steering wheel, but the automatic changes are lightning-fast. The quattro system ensures excellent grip when cornering hard and gives even the most nervous drivers some confidence when piloting the R8 in less-than-perfect conditions.
The R8 shares its chassis is with the Lamborghini Huracan, but we think the Audi actually handles better, as it feels much more agile at speed. Its steering is light and precise, but feels artificially heavy, as if the power assistance has been set too high. Other than that, though, the R8 is a very balanced and incredibly quick car.
Interior & comfort
Impressive build quality and Audi’s clever Virtual Cockpit feature boosts the R8’s interior
Audi’s typically brilliant interior quality is present in the latest R8, which simply oozes supercar luxury. You sit low in the sports seats and the dashboard wraps around you. There’s carbon-fibre and brushed aluminium inserts everywhere and the gearlever looks like the throttle from an aircraft.
The standout feature of the dashboard has to be the Virtual Cockpit system, which was first introduced on the Audi TT coupe. It consists of a large 12.3-inch screen where the instrument cluster would usually be found. This can display things like the speedometer, infotainment and satellite navigation system all in one place. This means that a lot of controls are centred on the steering wheel – which could take some getting used to.
Other than that, the dashboard is minimalist and clutter-free; the climate controls among the only buttons on the dash itself, but they’re very robust and feel great to use.
Practicality & boot space
There are some storage spaces in the cabin, but the boot is very small
You don’t buy a £120,000 supercar for its practicality, but even compared to its rivals, the Audi performs poorly. Since it’s strictly a two-seater, there’s no room behind the seats for any odds and ends other than a small shelf, but thankfully there are a few generous cubbies in the centre console and some door bins.
The boot is located in the nose of the car, but it’s not exactly generous. There’s enough space for a pair of small weekend bags, but little else. The space itself is quite deep, but its narrow opening and shape limits the items you can actually put in it.
Reliability & safety
Tried-and-tested parts and a reputation for safety count in the R8’s favour here
Audi normally does very well for reliability and build quality in our Driver Power owner satisfaction surveys and the brand scored third place for the latter in the latest 2015 edition.
Although new, this R8 shares its mechanical parts with the Lamborghini Huracan, while some of the interior technology, like the Virtual Cockpit, has already appeared in other Audi models.
In terms of safety, the car’s strong body shell should help protect occupants in a serious crash, while the usual suite of airbags, traction control and electronic stability control means the R8 should be very. The quattro four-wheel-drive system provides excellent grip in sharp corners, which should help even novice drivers out of the odd sticky situation.
Price, value for money & options
Good value when compared to other supercars, but be careful with options
The so-called ‘entry-level’ R8 will still set you back around £120,000 without any options, with the full-fat Plus model coming in at around £15,000 more. Options include a huge choice of alloy wheels, various paint finishes that include ‘Audi exclusive’ options and the ability to change the colour of the side blades. Opt for 20-inch alloy wheels and ‘Gloss Carbon’ side blades on your standard R8 and that’ll set you back a further £5,000.
Audi also offer packages that can help enhance the styling, interior and handling of your R8. The Sport Plus pack, yours for around £3,500, throws in Audi’s Magnetic Ride, Dynamic Steering and sports exhaust systems. Other packs include the Sound and Comfort packs, which throw in a Bang and Olufsen stereo and Napa leather racing seats respectively.
We’d advise that you don’t get carried away with the options list – you could potentially add a further £20,000 to the list price if you’re not careful.
The standard car already offers good value for money compared to other supercars. For example, the Lamborghini Huracan, which shares parts with the R8, is around £50,000 more expensive.