Review

Audi R8 coupe

Price  £119,500 - £134,500

Audi R8 coupe

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Head-turning looks
  • V10 engine sound
  • Predictable handling at high speeds
Cons
  • Limited storage space
  • High running costs
  • No cheaper V8 option

At a glance

The greenest
5.2 FSI quattro S tronic 2dr £119,500
The cheapest
5.2 FSI quattro S tronic 2dr £119,500
The fastest
Plus 5.2 FSI quattro S tronic 2dr £134,500
Top of the range
Plus 5.2 FSI quattro S tronic 2dr £134,500

"The second generation of the popular Audi R8 supercar has returned with a bang."

The latest Audi R8 has arrived and its magnificent 532bhp 5.2-litre V10 engine should help it take the fight to rivals such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and Mercedes-AMG GT.

Two versions of the car are available; the standard model already mentioned and an even more powerful R8 Plus, which has the same V10 engine tuned to produce 602bhp. Both R8s come with Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system as standard, meaning they generate huge amounts of grip in corners, and a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-cutch automatic gearbox is a great match for all the power of the V10.

The R8 benefits from Audi's expertise in interiors, offering occupants a slick, minimalist dashboard design with plenty of high-quality materials in the form of leather, carbon-fibre and aluminium. Audi's ‘Virtual Cockpit’ was first seen in the latest Audi TT and the second-generation R8 gets it too, so all driving information is now presented on a TFT screen rather than traditional dials.

It will come as no surprise to hear that the R8's large, powerful engine and starting price of £120,000 mean neither buying nor owning the car are cheap experiences. However, if you’re in the market for a supercar, the R8 is undoubtedly an appealing package thanks to its striking looks, excellent build quality and impressive performance.

The R8 offers two people a small boot and enough storage space for a long weekend but as with running costs, the R8 is true to its sports car credentials in terms of practicality. As long as you don’t need to transport lots of luggage or more than one other person, the car is easy enough to live with on a day-to-day basis thanks to the automatic gearbox, which makes traffic less tiring than it can be in sports cars with heavy clutches.

Though the R8 Plus is the most powerful of the two, the 532bhp of the standard R8 offers more than enough performance and excitement for most people. We would only recommend spending extra on the R8 Plus if you plan to take the car on a track regularly, as it's one of few environments in which you can actually exploit all of the car's performance.

The latest Audi R8 is just as brilliant as the original but looks sharper and feels more cutting-edge. If you have £120,000 to spend on a sports car, as well as the big budget needed to run one, the R8 should definitely be on your shortlist.

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.2 / 5

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

4.6 / 5

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

4.1 / 5

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

2.5 / 5

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

4 / 5

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

3 / 5

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.

Last updated 
27 Apr 2016
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