As a relative newcomer to the high-end exotic game, the Audi R8 has already earned a place beside the Porsche 911 Turbo and Aston Martin Vantage as one of the most desired cars in the world. And rightly so. With fantastic performance, stunning design and surprising livability, the R8 is a true everyday supercar.
You'll Like The 2014 Audi R8 If...
If you can afford a 6-figure price tag and want a supercar with concept-car styling, aggressive performance and a hospitable interior, the Audi R8 is an excellent choice. Perhaps more significantly, it’s an exotic that’s livable enough to be your daily driver.
You May Not Like The 2014 Audi R8 If...
Though Audi’s all-wheel-drive system in the R8 is highly rear-biased, purists who demand rear-wheel drive will need to look elsewhere. The R8 is also a newcomer to the supercar category. Buyers who want a car with a rich sense of heritage might feel a stronger kinship with the Porsche 911.
Updates for 2014 include refreshed front and rear fascias, standard LED headlights, a new dual-clutch transmission replacing the clunky old automatic and the addition of a range-topping V10 Plus model that boasts a 25 horsepower bump versus the standard V10 for a total of 550.
Despite the racy exterior the R8’s driver-oriented cabin is as luxurious and accommodating as one of Audi’s high-end sedans. During a multi-day journey through the Alps the 2014 R8 proved remarkably pleasant with much credit owed to the supportive and comfortable seats. For drivers who’d rather talk to their passenger than listen to the brilliant exhaust note, the cabin remains quiet enough for easy conversations. Otherwise, the interior layout is smartly arranged with controls placed within easy reach. Cargo space isn’t overflowing, but in the coupe there is two golf bags worth of space behind the front seats, supplementing the 3.5-cubic-foot compartment under the front hatch.
The 2-seat 2012 Audi R8 is wide and low, accommodating an engine that sits in the middle of the car. Buyers can choose between hardtop and convertible Spyder body styles, the latter lacking the former’s icon “sideblades” while featuring a power-folding top that operates in 19 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. Along with standard LED headlights, the 2014 R8’s taillights now feature a row of 30 LEDs that illuminate directionally outward when signaling, kind of like a Mustang but much cooler.
For all its power and performance the 2014 Audi R8 remains surprisingly easy to drive, even on a racetrack. The rear of the car likes to dance under very hard braking but during steady-state cornering the driver enjoys excellent grip along with slight and reassuring understeer, making it a formidable and fun track companion. On the street, that race-ready persona translates to precise and thrilling but manageable handling, enhanced by surprisingly civilized ride quality…for a supercar. In all environments the R8 sounds as good as it looks. The V8 is wonderful, but we are absolutely enamored with the prodigious power, brutal acceleration and raucous sound of the V10 engine in the Audi R8 5.2. A V8-powered R8 coupe will zoom from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, while those with the V10 can hit that benchmark in the mid-3-second range. Convertible R8s are a tick slower.
A 2014 Audi R8 4.2 coupe with manual transmission starts around $119,150 while the V10 model starts at $155,450, each including destination fees and a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax. Add an extra $13,500 to the bottom line for convertible Spyder models and an additional $9,100 if you favor the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. In its most expensive form, a loaded R8 V10 Plus coupe can reach beyond $185,000. At these prices, the R8 is comparable to Porsche 911 Turbo models and exotics from Aston Martin and Maserati. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price below for the most up-to-date pricing of the Audi R8 in your area. Down the road, we expect the R8 to have a slightly lower resale value than the Porsche.
The R8 comes standard with Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather/Alcantara seats, Bluetooth with a seatbelt microphone for voice commands, and a magnetic ride system that lets you chooses between comfort and sport modes. Versions with the 5.2-liter V10 come with a rearview camera, navigation and Nappa leather seats. Spyder versions have a power-folding fabric roof that can be opened or closed in 19 seconds, even while the car is in motion.
Audi R8 models can be further spruced up with add-ons like leather interior packages, diamond-pattern stitched seats, a package that clads portions of the vehicle in carbon fiber, and a black Alcantara headliner. V8 buyers might also be tempted by a very helpful parking-assistance package, which adds front and rear parking sensors as well as a backup camera, or the brilliant-sounding Bang & Olufsen audio system that is comes standard on the R8 V10.
S-TRONIC 7-SPEED DUAL-CLUTCH TRANSMISSIONThe slow shifts and jerky engagement of the R8’s previous R-tronic automated manual transmission always seemed out of step with an otherwise stellar car. In stark contrast, the new-for-2014 S Tronic dual-clutch automatic performs staggeringly quick yet smooth gear changes while simultaneously improving acceleration and fuel economy.METAL-GATED 6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSIONAs much as we like the new dual-clutch automatic, the Audi R8’s manual transmission is clearly the superior choice. It presents six well-chosen ratios and the metal gate surrounding the shifter provides a satisfying “clink” with every shift.
Under the Hood
The base engine is a 4.2-liter V8 that produces a perfectly thrilling 430 horsepower. Those who crave more horsepower or an even-more-visceral engine wail will prefer the optional V10, which churns out 525 horsepower in standard guise and 550 horsepower in the lightweight V10 Plus trim. Power is routed to the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system via a smooth and precise 6-speed manual transmission or a nearly as satisfying 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. All R8 models are subject to a gas-guzzler tax.4.2-liter V8430 horsepower @ 7,900 rpm317 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/20 mpg (manual), 14/23 mpg (automatic)5.2-liter V10525 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm391 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 mpg (manual), 13/22 mpg (automatic)5.2-liter V10550 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm398 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 mpg (manual), 13/22 mpg (automatic)
Lamborghinis and Ferraris are built to inspire desire, but the Audi R8 is built to drive. The German automaker’s sexy the 2-seat coupe or convertible has a posh interior loaded with technology and fitted with leather and Alcantara surfaces, resulting in a car that is as adept around a racetrack as it is soaking up endless hours of scenery. Two engine choices are available in the R8 coupe and convertible R8 Spyder: a stout 4.2-liter V8 or an even more potent, Lamborghini-sourced V10 that enables the Audi to better compete with the Porsche 911 Turbo and exotics from Italy. With a mid-mounted engine and standard Quattro all-wheel drive, the 2014 Audi R8 is a thrilling and capable supercar that looks the part.