In-depth reviews

Audi R8 review

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£135,255 to £171,360
  • Supercar looks
  • Spine-tingling V10
  • Sharp handling
  • Limited storage
  • Running costs
  • Rivals are more engaging
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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 agreeable 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 soundtrack.

About the Audi R8

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 (new and used) 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 R, Nissan GT-R and Aston Martin Vantage.

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

0-62mph for the V10 Performance quattro takes 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 £132,000. The R8 Spyder convertible is around £9,000 more than the coupe, with the most expensive drop-top - the V10 Performance quattro Edition - costing more than £167,000. 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.

For an alternative review of the Audi R8, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [540] V10 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £117,225

Most Economical

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [570] V10 Performance 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £131,725

Fastest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI V10 Quattro Performance 2dr S Tronic [C+S]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £149,025
Executive editor

Paul was employed across automotive agency and manufacturer-side sectors before joining Auto Express in 2020 as our online reviews editor. After a brief sojourn at a national UK newspaper, Paul returned as executive editor where he now works closely with our commercial partners.

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