- Gorgeous, aggressive exterior styling
- Sonorous V-10 soundtrack
- Comfortable as a daily driver
- Small frunk; limited headroom
- Thirsty for 91 octane fuel
- Some suboptimal track behavior
Audi R8 Expert Review
- Revised exterior styling
- Extra power from V-10 engine
- Updated steering and suspension
- Model-specific Michelin tires
- New interior color options
- Wireless phone charger
The R8 is Audi's iconic mid-engine supercar. With a V-10 engine mounted behind the driver, the R8 represents the pinnacle of Audi's performance and styling capabilities. Despite its track-ready capabilities, it's also comfortable enough for everyday cruising. The first-generation R8 debuted in 2006 and positioned Audi as a legitimate contender in the supercar realm. Now in its second generation, the R8 was significantly updated for 2020.
Audi gave the R8 a facelift for 2020, making it even edgier and more aggressive in the process. At the front, the grille is wider and flanked by Y-shaped strakes that at least look aerodynamic. Open mesh now spans the width of the rear end, with two large exhaust outlets at each lower corner. The V-10 engine was massaged for a bit more power. Steering and suspension improvements and new model-specific Michelin tires combine for more precise handling. There are some new interior color choices, and a wireless phone charger is added.
At the heart of the R8 is a 5.2-liter V-10 shared with the Lamborghini Huracan. In the R8, it's available in two states of tune: 562 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque standard or 602 hp and 413 lb-ft in the R8 Performance. Meanwhile, in the hot Huracan Evo, it's cranked to 630 hp and 443 lb-ft. In any case, that power is made as the tachometer swings toward a redline above 8,000 rpm. Shifting duties are handled by a rapid-fire seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with traction reined in by a performance-tuned AWD system.
MotorTrend testing of a 2017 R8 Spyder (slightly less powerful at 540 hp and 398 lb-ft) produced a 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds, with a quarter mile time of 11.5 seconds at 122.7 mph. However, at Best Driver's Car 2016, an R8 V10 Plus (now known as Performance) did the 60 sprint in a blistering 2.6 seconds, and dispatched the quarter mile in just 10.6 seconds at 130.3 mph. With hotshoe Randy Pobst working the controls, that car sliced through Laguna Seca Raceway's 11 turns in 1:34.23. According to Audi, both variants max out above 200 mph.
It'll take a degree of commitment, but yes, the R8 is something of an everyday supercar. Its small frunk and limited headroom make it unsurprisingly impractical (check out the Audi RS 6 if you need more space for cargo and people), but the R8 isn't as punishing on real-world roads as some other sports cars of this caliber. We think the standard non-Performance R8 is the one to get for daily duties, as we found it to be a compelling gran turismo that's still eager to carve through a twisty road.
Just look at the thing. From its 2006 debut the R8 has been a design icon, and its signature "sideblade" gives the car distinction and appeal. Of course, its specialness also comes from the driving experience, which we've equated to clenching a steel fist inside a soft leather glove. To celebrate the car's specialness, Audi created the R8 Decennium edition for 2020. Limited to 222 units, the R8 Decennium is distinguished by bronze finishing on the wheels, engine intake manifold, and interior seat stitching, plus abundant carbon fiber.
As Audi forges forward with electrification across its lineup, a noisy, thirsty supercar seems out of place, and it doesn't appear that development on the R8 will continue. Nonetheless, rumor has it that the R8's successor may be all-electric. Potentially previewed by the PB18 concept, the car (likely to include E-Tron somewhere in its name) might prove to be even higher performance than any gas-powered R8—talk about combining efficiency and emotion.