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2017 Audi R8

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2017 Audi R8 Expert Review

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The Audi R8, all-new for 2017, is a shining example of the civilized supercar. It used to be that exotic cars focused more on high-powered straight-line performance or track-specialized handling, but offered little in the way of the regular driving experience. That has changed. Cars like the Audi R8, Acura NSX and Porsche 911 Turbo reach 60 mph in around three seconds, have striking good looks and incredible grip, yet you can drive them to and on the track, with near-equal joy in both arenas. The resculpted R8 benefits from a combination of Audi's racing technology and road-car savvy. The new car is wider, lighter and faster than the previous generation, with an elegant Audi interior infused with cutting-edge luxury technology.

You'll Like This Car If...

Audi is known for its tech-savvy, elegant interiors and a good balance between performance and comfort. The R8 has all of that contained in a supercar that can compete with Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, yet is very easy to live with.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Not everyone loves the R8's styling, and it doesn’t stand out on the road like a Ferrari or Lambo. Despite Audi's longtime racing success, some don’t feel it has the same pedigree as its Italian rivals. If you want a manual transmission or don’t want all-wheel drive, look elsewhere.

How It Ranks
2017 Audi R8 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2017

The 2nd-generation R8 has a new frame, significantly updated engines -- now more powerful and more efficient -- and a redesigned body. New Quattro all-wheel drive can emulate rear-drive feel, the new-for-R8 Drive Select offers up to five driving modes, and there's a bevy of new tech in the cabin.

Driving the R8
2017 Audi R8 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The Audi R8 lets you pick the tempo: make things as serene or as raucous as you like. The R8's reaction to driver input is wonderfully quick and the car...

... feels light and agile. While it is very easy to exceed the speed limit on straight stretches of freeway, it's just as easy to cruise along at a reasonable clip at a relaxed pace, and the refined R8 offers a comfortable ride. With one slight tilt of the right foot, any traffic that once surrounded the Audi is suddenly a group of small dots in the rearview mirror. The V10 engine and 7-speed automatic work very quickly to do what the driver wants. At the track, that extremely responsive powertrain, plus fantastic handling and oodles of grip make road courses a true pleasure, and using launch control actually snaps your head back as you reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.

R8 V10 PLUS
If the R8 V10's 540 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque aren’t enough, there's the R8 V10 Plus, with 610 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. While the R8 V10 offers Drive Select, the Plus adds more performance modes, sport exhaust, carbon-ceramic brakes and special racing seats.

STEERING-WHEEL CONTROLS
The R8's steering wheel serves as the hub for most of your high-performance driving needs. In addition to the start/stop button, there's also a button for the sport exhaust, one for launch control, and Drive Select. Behind the wheel are paddle shifters, standard on every R8.

2017 Audi R8 Details
2017 Audi R8 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Inside the R8's low-slung cockpit is an elegant interior with the tech features and intuitive layout of one of Audi's upscale sedans. The driver and sole passenger can enjoy a 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, while nestled in seats covered in Nappa leather. For the first time, the R8 comes with Audi's MMI navigation system. The driver enjoys a multi-function steering wheel that controls many of the street/track functions, and the gauge cluster is Audi's virtual cockpit, a high-res 12.3-inch display that shows information chosen by the driver. The R8 V10 Plus comes with racing-shell seats.

Exterior
2017 Audi R8 photo

The R8 doesn’t have the emotional, lust-at-first-sight curves of other supercars, but looks unlike any other exotic on the road. While the 2017 Audi R8 now uses a new frame and shares almost 50 percent of its parts with the R8 LMS race car, changes to the exterior design are relatively subtle. It continues to have the low, wide stance it's had since the beginning, with a choice of hard- or soft-top. Opt for a 2017 V10 Plus over a V10, and you get ceramic brakes, a sport exhaust, and carbon-fiber rear diffuser and fixed spoiler.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

You know you're in supercar territory when a 5.2-liter, 540-horsepower V10 is the standard engine. Also standard in the R8 V10 are Quattro all-wheel drive, Drive Select, magnetic ride, and a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The Audi Virtual Cockpit is in all R8s, as are MMI, Audi Connect and Google Earth-powered navigation. Side mirrors are power-folding, power-adjustable, auto-dimming and heated. The R8 V10 also comes with twin-trapezoidal exhaust ports, a spoiler that rises depending on speed and 19.5-inch wheels. A 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is standard on the V10, optional on the V10 Plus.

Optional Equipment

Step up to the R8 V10 Plus, and your Audi supercar's 610-horsepower V10 will provide a top track speed of 205 mph. The lighter-weight V10 Plus comes with racing-shell seats, ceramic brakes, sport exhaust and more. From there, you can add Dynamic Steering, which offers a variable steering ratio. In the V10 Plus, Drive Select adds a performance mode that optimizes the car's performance based on dry, wet and snowy conditions. Other boxes you can check include diamond-stitched leather, contrast stitching and 20-inch wheels. An R8 Spyder is also available, with a top that can drop in 20 seconds.

Under the Hood
2017 Audi R8 Engine photo

The previous-generation R8 had a V8 engine as its standard offering and a 6-speed manual transmission. Both of those are gone, and all R8s are now powered by a mid-mounted V10 backed by a 7-speed quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The V10 Plus has 70 more horsepower and weighs about 110 pounds less, making it the model for pure speed, but with fewer comfort features. The 2017 Spyder uses the 540-horsepower version of the V10, but it wouldn't be a surprise if a V10 Plus Spyder joined the team. Audi R8s are subject to a gas-guzzler tax.

5.2-liter V10
540 horsepower @ 7,800-8,700 rpm
398 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 mpg

5.2-liter V10
610 horsepower @ 8,250-8,700 rpm
413 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 mpg

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

The 2017 Audi R8 V10 starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $165,450, and goes up to $192,450 for the least expensive V10 Plus. If open-air, open-road assaults are your thing, the R8 V10 Spyder starts at $176,350. Skipping the optional $6,000 Camouflage Green Matte paint, you can spend as much as $205,000 on an R8 V10 Plus, but unless you are going to spend significant time at the track, stick with the R8 V10. You'll still get to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, plus you get more comfort features and about $30K of extra walking-around money. The Acura NSX starts just under $158,000. Pricing for the Porsche 911 Turbo starts at about $160,000; with 40 more horsepower (but still less than in the R8 V10 Plus), the 911 Turbo S starts at $189,000. Fair Purchase Pricing for the R8 seems to be consistent with the MSRP, regardless of model.

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