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In-depth reviews

Audi R8 review - Interior, design and technology

Dramatic lines and a mid-engine layout mean the R8 is a real head-turner inside and out

The original R8’s dramatic styling was a such a hit, it came as no surprise that Audi didn’t mess with the winning formula for the second generation. At a glance you might struggle to tell it apart this facelift model from its predecessor.

Look more closely, however, and you’ll find that the R8 has been subtly enhanced in all areas. As with the brand’s latest models, such as the TT, the shape of this mid-engined flagship is defined by sharp creases and a bold angular grille at the front. The contrasting colour ‘blade’ air intakes behind the doors are smaller than before, while the range-topping V10 Performance has extra visual impact courtesy of its carbon-fibre bodywork additions that include a fixed rear wing, mirror housings and rear diffuser.

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This cutting-edge design continues inside, where the sweeping, wraparound dashboard puts the driver right at the centre of the action. The facelift has retained Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit, with its configurable TFT screen instrument layout that's operated via the multifunction steering wheel or rotary dial on the centre console. 

Another highlight is the three-spoke steering wheel, which houses a red starter button, plus the Drive Select switch and the controls for the sports exhaust and Performance modes. It gives the car a real racer-for-the-road feel.

The top-notch fit and finish is more than a match for a Porsche 911's, even if the cabin isn’t quite so easy to live with day-to-day; the minimalist dash means you have to access various sub-menus on the Virtual Cockpit to enter a sat-nav destination or retune the radio. Still, Audi’s Exclusive customisation service lets you select unique colours and finishes for the seats and trim inserts.

Quality is extremely high, although we prefer the way the climate controls are integrated into the vents on the TT, rather than in a separate row, as they are in the R8. Bucket seats are standard on the V10 Performance model and hold you firmly in place, but are soft enough for longer trips.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [540] V10 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £113,000

Most Economical

  • Name
    5.2 FSI [540] V10 2dr S Tronic RWD
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £113,000

Fastest

  • Name
    5.2 FSI V10 Quattro Performance 2dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £139,805
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