The Audi R8 is the German automaker’s first supercar, via their high performance division: Audi Sport GmbH. The mid-engine, 2-seat sports car uses Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, and is is based on the Audi Space Frame, also used in the Lamborghini Gallardo.
The R8 has a choice of 2 engines: the 4.2 FSI V8 engine and the 5.2 FSI V10 engine borrowed from the Gallardo. In the 20012, the HP was 420 and 525 respectively. Forget the single-clutch automatic paddle shifters, the gated 6 speed manual is the transmission of choice for collectors and drivers alike. That horsepower in a 3,362 lb car gives it a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds with the V8, and just over 3 seconds in the V-10.
The car is special for two reasons: First, the design by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig, which is a Germanic beauty. The car is inordinately wide, with its 3/4 views showing off its businesslike lines to best effect. Note the lighter car art bottom shows off more details than the darker colors. The interior is also a lovely design, sporting just the right balance of ergonomics and complexity.
But the strongest aspect of the R8 is its handling: It’s very nicely balanced, never feels unsettled or disturbed, even when you enter a turn too fast. There are no surprises, unless you do something terribly ill-advised. The Quattro AWD system was originally designed for managing the snow and wet, but translates well to high performance driving on a track. The steering and turn in are precise, and the quattro AWD system makes short work of any oversteer, providing wonderful control through corners. Jacky Ickx, the 6-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, described the R8 as “the best handling road car today.”
The bigV-8 sits right behind you, and (like Ferrari) the sweet spot of the power band is high in the rev range: from about 5,200-8,200 rpm it comes on hard. It wants to rev high, a very different experience than an American Muscle car. The V8 sounds fantastic, and there is plenty of power on tap.
Introduced in 2006, the 2012 was a modest cosmetic refresh, and fixed some issues including air conditioning leak and tendency for some structural parts to crack under stress. 2015 saw a new body and a dual clutch automatic.
The 2006-07 MSRP began at the bargain price of $110k; that began rising and by 2012 it was over $130k. Today, new models go for over $200k. (See recent sales here). About 2,000 are made each year, with less than 1,000 coming to the US. Buyers want to look for the sweet spot in the depreciation curve: The 2012 range in price from $70k-100k, with the manuals and the spyders both garnering more dollars. Same body style up to Later models still go for way over six figures: A 2018 Audi R8 V10 Spyder with just 100 miles with a new price of $218,400 sold for $157,000.