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2018 Audi R8

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2018 Audi R8 Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

The beauty of modern exotic cars like the 2018 Audi R8 goes far below the sexy skin. Rather than just occasional playthings for the rich, so uncomfortable in daily driving that they're taken out only on weekends, the Audi R8 exemplifies the modern exotic. It sacrifices none of the high-powered straight-line performance or track-specific handling expected from an exotic car costing in the $200,000 range. However, like its Acura NSX and Porsche 911 Turbo competition, the Audi R8 is just as comfortable when driven to and from the track, or even to the grocery store or on a daily commute. The Audi R8, all-new last year, is wider, faster and lighter than its predecessor, yet its elegant interior never lets you forget it's an Audi.

You'll Like This Car If...

Audi couples its reputation for high-tech, elegant and comfortable interiors with the kind of supercar performance normally associated with Lamborghini. It's a combination that results in a car that's simultaneously thrilling to drive, yet eminently comfortable for daily use.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While sharply styled, the Audi R8 doesn't have the universally beloved standout styling of a Ferrari or Lamborghini. And, despite Audi's many racing successes, that pedigree isn't as widely recognized. There's also no manual transmission. If you don't want all-wheel drive, you're out of luck.

How It Ranks
2018 Audi R8 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

All-new last year, the 2018 Audi R8 gets only a handful of updates this year. All models come equipped with Audi's smartphone interface that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new Black Optic package adds 20-inch 10-spoke wheels and other black trim. V10 models can be equipped with laser headlights.

Driving the R8
2018 Audi R8 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2018 Audi R8 lets you indulge in all the supercar excesses you can dream of, or simply cruise serenely. With its wonderfully quick steering and sharp suspension, the R8's...

... reactions to driver inputs make it feel light and agile. In no time -- well, a bit more than three seconds, anyhow -- you'll be exceeding the speed limit, and to a ridiculous degree if you refuse to back off the gas. Tickle the throttle in traffic, and suddenly that tight knot of cars is a group of distant dots in the rearview mirror. Its V10 engine and 7-speed automatic work harmoniously, letting the engine lope at sane highway speeds, or scream when you unleash that 610-horsepower beast. The responsive drivetrain, balanced handling and tenacious grip make road courses a pleasure, and using launch control actually snaps your head back as you reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.

R8 V10 PLUS
The standard R8 V10 puts out 540 horsepower, a lot by any measure. But if it's not enough, there's the R8 V10 Plus, with a 610-horsepower version of that engine. In addition, the Plus adds more performance modes in the Drive Select, sport exhaust, carbon-ceramic brakes and special racing seats.

STEERING-WHEEL CONTROLS
Buttons on steering wheels are nothing new, but the 2018 R8 takes it to extremes. In addition to cruise and audio controls, there's a bright-red start/stop button, Drive Select, sport exhaust, launch control and -- behind the rim -- paddles to manually shift the 7-speed automatic.

2018 Audi R8 Details
2018 Audi R8 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Audi interiors are always top-notch, and as the top-notch Audi, the R8 boasts a beautifully styled and intuitively laid-out cockpit. There's the 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, in case the V10's song somehow bores you. The supportive and comfortable seats are covered in Nappa leather, and the R8 now comes with Audi's MMI navigation system. The multi-function steering wheel incorporates many of the street/track functions, and Audi's excellent Virtual Cockpit replaces physical gauges with a high-res 12.3-inch display that shows information chosen by the driver. The R8 V10 Plus comes with racing-shell seats.

Exterior
2018 Audi R8 photo

The 2018 Audi R8 doesn't have the immediate emotional impact of exotics from Italy or England. Yet its distinctive grille and headlights make it unmistakably Audi. This generation R8 uses almost 50 percent of its parts with the R8 LMS race car, yet it's visually similar to its predecessor. The low, wide stance and choice of hard or soft top remain, although Audi has reduced the profile of the signature "blade" on the side to a more subtle contrasting air-intake panel. Opt for V10 Plus over V10, and you get ceramic brakes, a sport exhaust, carbon-fiber rear diffuser and fixed spoiler.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Only a supercar could offer a 5.2-liter 540-horsepower V10 as the "base" engine, here connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and quattro all-wheel drive. In addition, you get Audi's Drive Select variable drive modes, magnetic shocks and Audi's very cool and useful Virtual Cockpit in all R8 models. Audi's MMI infotainment interface also comes standard, as do Audi Connect and Google Earth-powered navigation. Even the side mirrors are high-tech: They're power-folding, power-adjustable, auto-dimming and heated. Also standard is a spoiler that rises depending on speed and 19.5-inch wheels. A 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is standard on the R8 V10.

Optional Equipment

Some people don’t want a "base" anything, even if it's a supercar, so Audi provides the R8 V10 Plus. Its V10 engine puts out 610 horsepower, it boasts a top track speed of 205 mph, and it comes with all sort of racy equipment: racing-shell seats, ceramic brakes, sport exhaust, enhanced aerodynamics. You can also get Dynamic Steering, which offers a variable steering ratio. Drive Select in the V10 Plus adds a performance mode that optimizes the car's performance based on dry, wet and snowy conditions. Also available are diamond-stitched leather, contrast stitching, 20-inch wheels, and of course the drop-top R8 Spyder.

Under the Hood
2018 Audi R8 Engine photo

There are two versions of one V10 engine available for the 2018 Audi R8. Base -- if you can call them that -- R8 models get a 5.2-liter V10 with 540 horsepower; the R8 V10 Plus comes with a 610-horsepower version. Both are connected to a quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system is also standard across the board. Fuel economy isn't great, and the R8 is subject to a gas-guzzler tax, but relative to competitors its 22 mpg on the highway isn't too bad, is it?

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

If you want to get into a 2018 Audi R8, you'll need about $166,000 to cover the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and the $1,250 destination charge. The R8 V10 Spyder starts at about $178,300, and the R8 V10 Plus comes in at a hefty $195,600. That's all before adding options of course, and they add up quickly; it's not hard to push the price of the V10 Plus well over the $200,000 mark. That's a lot, but it's competitive with the likes of the Acura NSX ($160,000) and Porsche 911 Turbo S ($189,000). Resale value for exotic cars depends on a variety of factors, but generally they hold their value well. Check the Fair Purchase Price to find out what the Audi R8 goes for in your area, but as an exotic, don't expect a lot of wiggle room.

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