By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 7/9/2012
The 2012 Audi R8 is indeed a supercar fit for a super hero but, unlike some others in this group of elite vehicles, it's not a compromise to drive. Yes, the R8 has incredible performance, but it also ladles on the luxury. The 2-seat coupe or convertible from the German automaker has a posh interior that is loaded with technology and fitted with leather and Alcantara surfaces. Two engines choices are available in the R8 coupe and R8 Spyder: A stout 4.2-liter V8 or a an even more potent, Lamborghini-sourced V10 that lets the Audi better compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo and exotics from Italy. The engine location is in the middle of the car and all R8s feature Audi's quattro all-wheel drive for better handling and traction.You'll Like This Car If...
If your idea of a supercar is one with concept-car styling, aggressive performance and an interior filled with creature comforts, the Audi R8 is an appealing choice. Perhaps more significantly, it's an exotic that's easy to live with on a daily basis, a car that is at home on both road and track.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you choose the R tronic automatic transmission, know that shifts take some time and its indecisiveness can be annoying in rush-hour traffic. Purists who must have rear-wheel drive will need to look elsewhere, though Audi's all-wheel-drive system in the R8 is highly rear-biased.What's New for 2012
R8 models with the 4.2-liter V8 get a 10-horsepower increase to 430. Audi R8 GT versions of the coupe and convertible arrive in limited editions with less weight, more power and bigger price tags.Driving It Driving Impressions
Even with the "least" powerful engine – a 430-horsepower V8 – the 2012 R8 feels responsive and powerful. Downshifting is rarely necessary, as torque is plentiful and spread throughout the rev range. As good as the V8 is, we are enamored with the prodigious power, brutal acceleration and the sheer sound of the V10 engine in the Audi R8 5.2. Driving enthusiasts capable of working a clutch will find the manual transmission – complete with a metal gate – more satisfying than the surprisingly unrefined optional R tronic automatic. Regardless of which transmission you choose, the Audi R8 is as fast as it looks. 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 just 3.7 seconds. Convertible R8s are a tick slower and GTs slightly faster. The R8 benefits from an electronic differential lock (EDL), and uses speed-dependent electromechanical power steering. Audi's rear-biased all-wheel-drive system keeps the car planted and the large front and rear brakes make quick work of bringing it to a stop.Favorite Features
Both the mid-mounted V8 and V10 engines are fine partners for the 2012 Audi R8 and, because they sit under a glass panel instead of a metal hood, they can be gazed upon like automotive jewelry.
METAL-GATED 6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
The Audi R8's transmission has well-chosen ratios, but the icing on the cake is the metal gate that surrounds the shifter and provides a satisfying "clink" as each shift is completed.
Though it still boasts performance intentions, the R8's cabin is as luxurious and accommodating as those found in Audi's high-end sedans. Inside are supportive, 10-way Alcantara/leather seats and an ingenious seatbelt-mounted microphone system that allows for hands-free talking. Controls are within easy reach of the driver, particularly the metal-gated shifter on models with manual transmission. Not surprisingly, cargo space isn't exactly copious, but there is space for two golf bags behind the front seats, in addition to the 3.53-cubic-foot luggage compartment under the front hatch.Exterior
The 2012 Audi R8 sits wide and low with a forward cabin to accommodate the engine in the rear. The R8 features a curvaceous hood and roof that form one sweeping arc. Spyder versions of the R8 have a black fabric power-folding top that can open or close in 19 seconds while the car travels at speeds up to 31 mph. When folded, the top is protected by a carbon fiber cover. One of the R8's most notable design features is the vertical "sideblade" that stands out even more with its contrasting color. LED running lights give the 2012 R8 a sinister look and sit flush with the giant air intakes below. Audi's design of its supercar works well today and should continue to stand out for many years to come.Notable Standard Equipment
The R8 comes standard with Audi's signature quattro all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather/Alcantara seats, Bluetooth seatbelt microphone and a magnetic ride system. Versions with the 5.2-liter V10 have a rear-view camera, navigation system, Nappa leather seats and a superb, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system. Spyder versions have a power-folding fabric roof that can be opened or closed in 19 seconds, even while the car is in motion.Notable Optional Equipment
Audi R8 models can be further spruced up with package-based options, including one that covers more of the interior in leather, another that clads portions of the car in carbon fiber and one that fits the car with ceramic brakes. The packages can add on several thousand dollars each, with the brake package alone costing nearly $10,000 extra. To get navigation on the V8-powered R8, you'll need to check the box for the $2,000-plus nav package.Under the Hood
The R8 comes with a choice of two high-revving engines: A 4.2-liter V8 that makes 430 horsepower or a V10 that cranks out 525 horsepower. In the limited-edition GT models the V10 has been tuned to make 560 horsepower. Transmission choices are a wonderfully smooth and precise 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic that can be reluctant and puzzling in traffic. All R8 models are subject to a gas-guzzler tax.
430 horsepower @ 7,900 rpm
316 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/20 mpg (manual), 13/21 mpg (automatic)
525 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm
391 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 mpg (manual), 13/19 mpg (automatic)
A 2012 Audi R8 4.2 coupe with manual transmission starts around $118,500, including destination and a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax. An R8 with the V10 starts at just over $153,000. R8 Spyder convertibles start at just under $132,000 with the V8 and nearly $167,000 with the V10. Adding an automatic transmission to any models adds about $9,000. A loaded R8 5.2 coupe can reach beyond $185,000 and the equivalent version of a Spyder can eclipse $200,000. 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 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.