The Audi R8 has evolved since its introduction in 2007, to say the least.
A decade ago the R8 was a “budget supercar” with a V8 that produced a reasonable 414 horsepower. R8 Buyers could spec either a 6 speed gated manual (oh so good), or the single clutch R-Tronic automatic.
Then came the introduction of the V10 in 2009, and the R8 crept closer to true supercar territory – both in price and performance.
And the overwhelming transmission favorite it must have been, because for 2017 it’s the only one available. Oh, and the V8 is gone too. It’s as long gone as the R8 pricing that once rounded toward the $100,000 mark instead of $200,000.
Yep, the R8 is all grown up and prepped for a fight with just about anything short of a hypercar. The 610 horsepower V10 Plus engine propels the R8 to 60 in 2.6 seconds (original Bugatti Veyron takes 2.7 seconds), and a frenetic quarter mile of 10.6 seconds @ 129.8 mph.
So the R8 has officially abandoned its roots as the “sensible” supercar. Is that a good thing?
You won’t often find us in opposition to performance advancement, but there’s something a bit lamentable about the fact that Audi have decided to go this direction with the R8.
Back in 2008 the V8 R8 won Motor Trend’s Best Handling Car, and then followed that up with a 2nd place finish in the 2009 Best Driver’s Car contest. There were these awards as well. The driving attributes that won the R8 those contests had nothing to do with mind-bending acceleration – see Randy Pobst’s Laguna Seca hot lap & interview below.
But apparently the current market favors big supercar numbers and there’s no question that the 2017 R8 delivers those. Just about its only performance fault, as described in the Motor Trend video below, is a tendency to understeer on track. A trait that can be largely addressed by passing on the Pirelli P Zero tires in favor of the available Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, a full-fledged street/track tire.
As for the 2017 R8’s styling, we’re undecided. The new model’s angularity will take some getting used to, as will the abundance of mesh grilling. Certainly it’s not anywhere near as elegant as the original R8 design.
These two Motor Trend videos draw the sharp contrast between the 2017 R8, and the original back in 2007-2008.