Audi R8 coupe
"The popular Audi R8 offers a pure supercar experience with few of the usual drawbacks"
- Predictable handling
- Head-turning looks
- V10 engine sound
- High running costs
- Lack of steering feel
- Limited storage
The Audi R8 is a mid-engined supercar that competes with similarly exclusive models like the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GT. It comes with a 564bhp 5.2-litre V10 engine and a super-quick automatic gearbox, making it one of the fastest road cars currently on sale.
Three versions of the car are available: the standard four-wheel-drive model, and an even more powerful four-wheel-drive R8 Performance, which has the same V10 engine tuned to produce 612bhp. These power outputs swelled slightly for a mid-life facelift, which also saw the R8 given Audi's latest family face and some suspension tweaks. The popularity of a rear-wheel drive special edition R8 launched in 2018, also means a two-wheel drive version is now available permanently, with 533bhp.
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 digital screen rather than traditional dials. Unlike most Audi's, the R8 doesn't have a central infotainment screen, placing the emphasis firmly on the driving experience.
It will come as no surprise to hear that the R8’s large, powerful engine and starting price of over £125,000 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 Audi Exclusive programme allows owners to customise their cars through a number of options, including the ability to have graphics or lettering displayed on the car's carbon fibre 'side blades'.
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 luggage space, and some rivals are more practical. As long as you don’t need to transport lots of luggage or more than one other person, the R8 is easy enough to live with on a day-to-day basis thanks to its automatic gearbox, which makes traffic less tiring than it can be in similar cars with a sensitive clutch.
Although the R8 Performance is the more powerful of the two, the 564bhp of the standard R8 offers more than enough performance and excitement for most people. We’d only recommend spending extra on the R8 Performance if you plan to take the car on a track regularly, as it's one of the few environments in which you can actually exploit all of the performance on offer.
The latest Audi R8 is as brilliant as the original, but with sharper looks, and it feels more cutting-edge. If you have this much money to spend on a sports car, as well as the budget needed to run one, the R8 should definitely be on your shortlist.