In-depth reviews

Audi R8 review

The Audi R8 is a true supercar that's devastatingly fast, yet it's as easy to drive as a TT

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£114,435 to £157,840
  • Supercar looks
  • Spine-tingling V10
  • Sharp handling
  • Limited storage
  • Running costs
  • Rivals are more engaging

The Audi R8 is a supercar from a dying breed. As makers add turbochargers to their cars to meet ever-stricter emissions targets, the naturally aspirated engine is falling out of favour. In some ways, the R8 is a fantastic last hurrah. But, while the 5.2-litre V10 is a focal point of the car, there's much more to the R8 than simply a big engine.

It's as useable as an Audi TT on a daily basis, if you can live with the running costs, and its ease of use would put some superminis to shame. The quattro four-wheel drive means it has plenty of traction and grip, but unlike many fast Audis, it's enjoyable to drive on track, too. It's nimble and agile, while the V10 packs a punch that's accompanied by a thrilling V10 soundtrack, especially if you go for the R8 V10 Performance.

There's no doubt about how much of an impact the Audi R8 made when it arrived in 2006, and it's still one of the most desirable supercars for sale today. The current model is the second generation, which hit showrooms in 2015, this time just with V10 power and no smaller V8 variant. As before, there are coupe and convertible R8 Spyder models offered. A facelift came out in 2018, only improving the breed. 

The R8 has the looks, performance, handling and sense of occasion to make it a genuine supercar. It has a wide range of rivals, too, the closest of which is the mechanically similar Lamborghini Huracan. Other models to consider with the engine behind the driver include the Porsche 911, McLaren 570S/600LT, Honda NSX and BMW i8, while front-engined cars that are alternatives include the Mercedes-AMG GT, Jaguar F-Type SVR, Nissan GT-R and Aston Martin Vantage.

• Best supercars to buy now

All R8s are V10-powered with a twin-clutch seven-speed auto gearbox. The Performance and Carbon Black models deliver 611bhp with quattro four-wheel-drive as standard, while Audi also offers a 562bhp quattro version and a rear-wheel-drive variant with the same lower output.

0-62mph for the V10 Performance is 3.1 seconds, and this is easily achievable courtesy of the standard-fit launch control system, while a top speed of 205mph means that this R8 is the fastest production Audi ever built.

The sharp looks of the R8 Mk2 were given a subtle tweak as part of a 2018 facelift, while the minimalist cabin was given some adjustments, too. You still get Audi's great Virtual Cockpit as standard, which means all of the cabin functions aside from the air conditioning are controlled via steering wheel buttons and a large screen where the dials would normally sit.

Prices for the R8 start at around £116,000. The R8 Spyder is around £9,000 more than the coupe, with  the most expensive V10 Performance Carbon Black convertible costing just over £164,000. All models are available in coupe and Spyder body styles. However, you can pay even more if you raid the extensive options list, which allows you to add different packs or individual options, but either way means the price can escalate quickly.

Don't expect running costs to let you off after shelling out all that cash, either. That V10 likes to drink - especially if you use the revs to hear that glorious soundtrack - but with a lot of cars gaining turbochargers to help reduce emissions, for some it's a price worth paying to hear this last hurrah for the naturally aspirated petrol engine.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [540] V10 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £114,435

Most Economical

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [540] V10 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £114,435

Fastest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI V10 Quattro Performance 2dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £141,240

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