Under the Hood
The original R8 was offered with either a V8 engine or a V10, but the second-generation model is V10-only for the time being.
The 10-cylinder in question is a Lamborghini-derived naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter unit that makes 540 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm. Linked exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission controlled by shift paddles, the V10 sends the R8 from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 199 mph. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system helps put the power to the ground.
Enthusiasts after more grunt can order the R8 V10 plus. It's equipped with an evolution of the V10 massaged to pump out 610 horsepower at a screaming 8,250 rpm and 413 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm. The extra power lowers the R8's zero-to-60 time to 3.2 seconds, and it allows the coupe to hit 205 mph.
To keep fuel economy in check, both models pack a start/stop system, a coasting function built into the transmission and Audi's cylinder on-demand technology, which seamlessly turns the V10 into a straight-five when its full output isn't needed.
Looking the Part
Staying true to tradition, the R8's design is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It features a sharp-looking front end characterized by a wide rendition of Audi's trademarked Singleframe radiator grille with honeycomb inserts, angular headlights, and a deep bumper with two large air ducts accented by blade-like inserts.
Out back, the R8 features a pair of thin, elongated tail lamps, a discreet spoiler that automatically extends, a sizable air diffuser and two air vents that mirror the ones found up front.
The evolutionary treatment continues inside the R8, where the cockpit's basic layout is largely carried over from its predecessor. The coupe is fitted with Audi's Virtual Cockpit, a digital and fully configurable instrument cluster that was inaugurated by the third-generation TT. The driver can configure the high-resolution 12.3-inch screen to display a wide variety of data including navigation directions, acceleration and lateral forces, as well as vital information about the car and its surroundings.
Every R8 ships with Audi's MMI infotainment system. MMI groups the coupe's entertainment, connectivity, and navigation functions into a single unit.
Another notable high-tech feature offered on the R8 is Audi connect, a software that provides a Wi-Fi connection and lets passengers find places of interest, travel information, weather reports, fuel prices, and even access satellite images from Google Earth. Audi connect is free for six months, and a paid service after that.
Standard and Optional Features
The R8 comes standard with automatic LED headlights, high-beam assist, LED tail lamps, power-folding, heated, and auto-dimming mirrors, LED lighting in the engine compartment, automatic A/C, a multi-function steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery, 18-way power-adjustable sport seats, power windows, a 550-watt sound system with 12 speakers, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and a HomeLink transceiver.
Highlights from the list of option packages include the Diamond Stitch Leather package, which bundles -- you guessed it -- diamond-stitched leather seats and a diamond-stitched Alcantara headliner. Standalone options include carbon ceramic brakes, dynamic steering, contrast stitching, and red brake calipers.
Dual front, side/thorax, curtain, and knee airbags are fitted as standard. Traction and stability control systems and electronic brake assist are also included.
Those in the market for an exotic performance car like the R8 should also consider the tastefully-styled Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the potent Porsche 911 Turbo as well as the Nissan GT-R, which can't match he Audi's interior refinement but is blindingly quick.
The V10 Plus model squares off against high-end supercars like the McLaren 570S, and the Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2.