The R8 is the crowning jewel of Audi's lineup. A two-seat rocket closely related to the Lamborghini Huracán, the R8 is capable as a daily driver or a track-day monster. Last year saw the return of the rear-wheel-drive variant, which sees a power bump for 2022. Get it while it's hot—the R8's old-school powertrain is likely to go the way of the dinosaur soon.
We're glad the V-10 R8 is still around, even if it won't be for much longer. We tested the latest version in 2020. While the track dynamics aren't quite as polished as exotic rivals, the R8 offers a seductive blend of refinement and brutality.
The R8's magic has always been its ability to pull double duty. Many supercars can deliver blistering lap times, but few are as pleasant when bopping around town. Almost none can do both, and that's where the R8 sets itself apart.
That, and the noise. Audi's V-10 powerplant is an all-time great. When we tested the R8 as a contender for Best Driver's Car in 2016, race car driver Randy Pobst praised the engine's smoothness and power. Just as important, the naturally aspirated scream informs you (and everyone else) that you're the fastest thing on the road.
The Audi R8 is available in two states of tune. Both use a 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V-10 and are fast enough to curdle your insides.
For 2022, the rear-wheel-drive R8 gains 30 horsepower and 8 lb-ft of torque, placing total output at 562 hp and 408 lb-ft. At an EPA-estimated 14/23 mpg city/highway, the RWD R8 is the thriftier variant.
The all-wheel-drive powertrain is unchanged at 602 hp and 413 lb-ft. The R8's launch control is exceptional. In our testing, a Euro-spec 2017 model went from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. Fuel economy drops to 13/19 mpg city/highway.
Both powertrains are available with either the coupe or Spyder, and both get the same dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is generally good, but it can be hesitant to downshift. Compared to a Ferrari dual-clutch box or Porsche's PDK, it feels outdated.
Rumors have long circulated that the R8's powertrain is on the way out. As hybrid supercars become the norm, it seems only a matter of time before the R8 joins the new wave.
Audi has dropped hints about electrifying the R8, but so far, no details have been confirmed. The model will almost certainly continue in some form, possibly derived from the fascinating PB18 concept car.
That's not a bad thing. Hybrid and electric powertrains have proven effective in performance cars, and Audi has the racing pedigree to do the job right. We will miss the smooth howl of the V-10, though. Buyers who prefer unadulterated internal combustion should snap up this R8 before it's gone.
As a niche supercar, the R8 hasn't been vetted by federal or independent safety testers. You won't find Audi's suite of active driver assistance features here. Automatic high-beams and parking sensors are standard, though.
Like most supercars, the R8 was not built for runs to the hardware store. Its limited interior space is comparable to rivals like the McLaren 570S.
Unlike most modern cars, the R8 has no central touchscreen. The driver's 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster doubles as command center for climate control and media. Navigation is standard on every R8, and the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is the only available upgrade.
Two powertrains and two body styles make four possible R8 configurations. We're not sure the upgraded engine is worth over $50,000, but the Spyder is tempting at about $12,000 more than the base coupe. The drop-top makes that marvelous soundtrack even sweeter.
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