Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Audi R8 review - Engines, performance and drive

The V10 engine sounds fantastic, but the R8 remains an extremely useable supercar

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.9 out of 5

Price
£135,255 to £171,360
Find your Audi R8
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Hassle-free way to a brand new car
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Extensive use of aluminium in the R8’s structure has allowed Audi's engineers to reduce weight by around 15 per cent over the old car, while the familiar, naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 has been tweaked to deliver an astonishing 611bhp in the R8 Performance. This powerplant is paired with a seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic gearbox that drives all four wheels via a new quattro transmission.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Press the red starter button on the steering wheel, and the V10 barks into life with enough noisy violence to set off car alarms and startle passers-by - if it’s attention you’re after, then this engine delivers it in spades. The entry rear-wheel-drive model's 550Nm torque figure means it can’t match its rivals for mid-range muscle, but it’s got them well beaten for aural drama.

From its deep growl at low revs through to the thrilling metallic howl as you close in on the 8,500rpm red line, it sounds every bit as exciting as you’d expect from a supercar. Go for the optional Sports exhaust, and there's even more volume added to the glorious mechanical orchestra.

Maximum torque arrives at 6,600rpm, so the R8’s driving experience is dominated by the screaming V10. At the track, we've clocked an R8 from 0-60mph in a mere 2.9 seconds – that’s two-tenths quicker than Audi’s claimed time. Having short ratios and a razor-sharp throttle response means the R8 surges relentlessly forward no matter what gear you’re in. And while it doesn’t have the ferocious top-end bite of a McLaren 570S, the Audi is still sensationally quick.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Purists will mourn the lack of a manual gearbox, but the twin-clutch S tronic auto is so capable in every situation that it's easy to forgive and forget. At low speeds you barely feel the shifts, but fire through a full-bore upshift in performance mode and Audi has engineered a little kick in the back to make the full-throttle driving experience that much more visceral. The twin-clutch box rips through shifts, and it delivers delicious throttle blips on the way down, too.

The Drive Select system allows you to choose between Normal, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic driving modes, and Performance models add a setting that can tweak the stability control’s intervention to suit the road conditions. The steering is light and super-sharp, and although the R8’s steering lacks the beautifully weighted feel of a Porsche 911, even in its sportiest setting, it does let you place the car with laser-guided accuracy.

There's a devastating amount of grip in high-speed corners – noticeably more than in the last R8, in fact. There’s also great body control and strong traction, but switch off the electronic safety net in the quattro models, and the four-wheel-drive system can shuffle 100 per cent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels for lurid powerslides. Surprisingly, the R8 feels more agile on the limit than a Huracan, even though both cars are pretty much the same under the skin.

Of course, if you dial down the powertrain and dampers and go at a more sedate pace, then the R8 is no harder to pilot than a TT around town. Visibility isn’t quite as good as you'll find in a 911, but it's better than in the Honda NSX. On the motorway, the engine spins at a heady 2,900rpm at 70mph, plus there’s a fair amount of tyre roar, so it's not the most relaxing. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

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.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range
Kia EV3 - front
News

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range

Kia expands its electric line up with the EV3 – taking plenty of inspiration from the flagship EV9
23 May 2024
Citroen C3 review
Citroen e-C3 - front
In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review

A clever rethink of the small, affordable car theme, the C3 and its all-electric e-C3 twin have the potential to really shake up the market
22 May 2024
Renault Scenic review
Renault Scenic UK - front
In-depth reviews

Renault Scenic review

The Renault Scenic takes a pragmatic and polished approach to zero-emissions motoring
21 May 2024