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Used car tests

Used Audi R8 (Mk2, 2015-2023) review: a V10-powered masterpiece

A full used buyer’s guide on the Audi R8 covering the R8 that was on sale between 2015 and 2023

Verdict

When we drove the original Audi R8 V8 coupé, we claimed that it was “a masterpiece that’s stunning to look at and wonderful to own”, with the V10 even more impressive. By the time the Mk2 arrived, Audi had nothing left to prove, and yet it still raised the bar significantly, with a car that was even more accomplished dynamically, while still being safer, faster and more refined. But cars such as the R8 are on borrowed time, which is why we won’t see anything like it again from Audi. That’s a shame, but it means that now is a good time to find a really good one, look after it, and watch it rise in value – maybe by enough to offset the running costs.

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When Audi unveiled the original R8 in 2006, it really set the cat among the pigeons. Here was a car that was ferociously quick and looked sensational, and yet it was as easy to drive as Audi’s more mainstream saloons and hatchbacks.

While the original R8 was available with a choice of V8 or V10 engines, the Mk2 car only came with the latter. That meant even the entry-level model could do almost 200mph, with its incredible acceleration made all the more accessible because four-wheel drive was fitted as standard.

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Now the R8 Mk2 is no more, because after an eight-year production run, it was axed last summer. There will be no direct replacement, so if you want one of the most usable supercars ever built, now is the time to track down your perfect R8.

History

The R8 Mk2 coupé arrived in summer 2015, with either 532bhp or 601bhp 5.2-litre V10 engines, the latter sold as the V10 Plus. By the end of 2016, the first examples of the R8 V10 Spyder had been delivered in the UK. At first only the 532bhp engine was available, but by summer 2017 there was also a Spyder V10 Plus, too.

All R8s featured quattro four-wheel drive until March 2018, when the 532bhp rear-wheel-drive V10 RWS coupé and Spyder went on sale, limited to 999 units globally. All 4WD R8s got more power from spring 2019, producing 562bhp, or 611bhp for the V10 Plus, which was renamed the V10 Performance. By January 2020 the RWS was a standard part of the range, and from October 2021 it had 562bhp.

Which one should I buy?

The regular V10 is all you need, but the Plus/Performance editions are likely to hold their value better, because collectors will gravitate towards those. Whatever you buy, it’s essential that the car has a complete service history.

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All R8s have adjustable suspension, LED headlights, heated seats, navigation and digital instrumentation, plus front and rear parking sensors. The V10 Plus adds ceramic brakes, high-beam assist and Nappa leather-trimmed bucket seats.

This left plenty of opportunities to spend extra money on options such as exclusive paint finishes, adaptive damping, dynamic steering, laser headlights and upgraded interior trim, along with a beefed-up Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, so pin down the exact spec of any potential purchase.

Alternatives to the Audi R8

The Lamborghini Huracán is related to the R8, with both cars sharing the same 5.2-litre V10 engine, but the Lambo has much more presence and costs significantly more to buy and run. This is also true of the Ferrari 488 and F8, both of which feature V8 engines, but with twin turbochargers to serve up phenomenal performance.

The McLaren 720S offers plenty of drama and excitement, plus relative comfort and usability, while the Ford GT is a left-field (and hugely expensive) option that came only in left-hand-drive form. The Mercedes-AMG GT and Jaguar F-Type are front engined, and while the latter might seem a bit low-rent in comparison, it’s seriously fast and relatively affordable. Finally, the Porsche 911 should also be on your list, because it’s incredibly fast, beautifully built and usable, plus there are plenty to choose from.

What to look for

Warranty

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The warranty ran for three years/60k miles, with four-year/75k-mile and five-year/90k-mile warranties available at extra cost.

Brakes

Squeal can be a problem with steel brakes (so not on the carbon-ceramic-braked V10 Plus/Performance cars). It subsides as the brakes bed in.

Dashboards

Some US owners have had problems with their leather-faced dashboards delaminating, but cars in the UK seem to be okay so far.

Suspension

The magnetic ride dampers can leak. Some R8 owners fit pattern parts, but rebuilt originals are available from magrides.com.

Buyer beware

Although you could use an R8 every day, few people do. As a result, most of these cars have covered a low mileage, but don’t be fooled, because they can be hard miles, on track or potentially ‘off road’. So check for crash damage and signs of abuse very carefully.

Interior

The R8’s interior is every bit as premium as you’d expect, with high-quality materials everywhere. It’s also just as user friendly as Audi’s more mainstream models, with a switchgear layout that’s intuitive, and digital instrumentation that’s easy to read at a glance.

Don’t let the Audi badge fool you, because this isn’t a practical car. There’s only seating for two and the front boot (there isn’t one in the back) is only capable of stowing 112 litres. While the coupé does get a 226-litre cargo area behind the seats, this space is reserved for housing the convertible rag-top mechanism in the Spyder.

Prices

We found around 180 R8s for sale. Two-thirds were coupés, with the same proportion being the high-powered V10 Plus/Performance edition. One in 10 R8s is a rear-wheel drive edition.

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Coupés are more affordable than Spyders, while RWS models are generally worth less than regular production RWD cars, because they’re older.

To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

The R8’s servicing regime is much like Audi’s more mainstream models, so owners can choose between fixed or flexible schedules; the latter is the default. The former is limited to 12 months or 9,600 miles, while under the flexible system, you can go for up to two years or 18,600 miles between maintenance.

Services alternate between Minor and Major, and costs vary according to when the car was registered. Minor prices are £470-£620, while the Major is £760-£900. Once an R8 reaches its third birthday, there’s a new pricing structure and these charges can shrink to around £450 and £780 respectively. On top of this, the brake fluid needs to be renewed every two years, at a cost of £72, but because the V10 engine is chain driven, there are no cambelts to replace.

Recalls

A total of three recalls so far for the R8 isn’t too much to worry about, especially as only one of them involved a significant number of cars. That was the first campaign, which was issued in September 2018 and affected almost 1,000 R8s made up to November 2017. The problem was potential gearbox-oil leaks, because of a faulty breather pipe.

Recall number two, in April 2022, was also because of a gearbox-oil problem, this time because just one R8, made in January 2021, left the factory without enough lubricant in its transmission. The most recent recall was issued in October 2022, and once again it affected just one R8. This time the campaign was due to a faulty passenger-airbag gas generator. The solution was to change the entire airbag unit.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The R8 is too niche to have appeared in our Driver Power New or Used Car surveys. There are also no owner reviews on carbuyer.co.uk, so the only evidence we have of owner satisfaction is anecdotal from owners’ forums. The result of scouring these is predictable, with owners loving their cars’ performance, value, usability and build quality. Reliability is also good, but running costs can be very high.

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