German precision and handling combines with Italian power to create a superb supercar that's also fit for daily use.
The Audi R8 stands alone in its brand: it's a mid-engine supercar amongst a crowd of front-engine luxury sedans and coupes. For the 2014 model year, the R8 gets some enhancements and refinements that help make it the best R8 we've tested.
The best change for 2014 is the replacement of the previous S Tronic transmission with a new dual-clutch unit. No longer balky and uncooperative, the R8's dual-clutch is now the preferred gearbox--unless you really want to row your own gears. Nearly sentient in its prediction of downshifts and its steady, rapid upshifts, even skipping gears to respond directly to multiple downshift requests, the new gearbox is now a must-have for all but the purists. For the purists, there's still a six-speed manual.
Also new this year is the V10 Plus model, which raises the standard R8 V10's 525 horsepower to a slightly more exhilarating 550 horsepower. That's still not outrageous in these days of 650-plus horsepower muscle cars, but combined with the weight savings over the standard V-10-powered car, the R8 V10 Plus is as nimble as the V-8-powered R8. Together, the extra power and lightness make it a standout performer, particularly when paired with the new dual-clutch transmission.
The entry R8 is still a 420-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8-powered Coupe, paired with a convertible, or Spyder. The 525-horsepower, 5.2-liter V-10 Coupe and Spyder likewise carry into 2014. All 2014 R8s share updated appearance and interior features, mostly minor tweaks, but collectively, a visible refinement of design.
Comfort and convenience items in the interior are typically coupe-minimal, but at the same time, more than merely adequate. Audi's MMI navigation with real-time traffic, Bluetooth, and excellent audio cover the expected bases. The seats and space in the cabin will encourage you to enjoy the time you spend there. And though the cargo space is a bit limited, it's still one of the most practical supercars or super sports cars around.
The 2014 Audi R8 hasn't yet been crash-tested by the official agencies, but with Audi's full design and specification of a modern safety suite, including dual-stage airbags, knee airbags, head and thorax airbags, stability control, rearview camera, and more to help reduce the effects of an impact.
Rated as high as 14/23 mpg city/highway with the 4.2-liter V-8 and dual-clutch transmission, or as low as 12/19 mpg with the 5.2-liter V-10 and manual transmission, the Audi R8 isn't exactly green, even for a car of its performance caliber.