After a substantial list of changes for 2014 to make Audi’s fantastic mid-engined two-seat sports car even more competitive, there are few surprises for the R8 in 2015; returns in delectable coupe and soft-top Spyder formats.
Located right behind the cockpit, the 4.2-liter V8 provides plenty of revs and 430 horses; Lamborghini V10 continues with 525 horsepower and 550 horses in Plus model; smooth seven-speed automated manual or awesome six-speed manual with exposed shift gate; Quattro, of course.
Audi’s recent refresh of its R8 sports car could be considered nearly perfect. The LED lightpipes (around the headlights) are more angular, and the grille is just different enough to be fresh. The proportions are the same and with the soft-top Spyder, the R8 gets the nod as the Ultimate Tanning Machine. The roof stows in 19 seconds, letting in all that glorious engine noise. Aside from the obvious, the Spyder also loses the coupe’s “side blades” that direct air into the mid-mounted powerplant. And instead of a back window that displays the engine, the Spyder has a body-colored cover with pods that flow nicely into the seatbacks. Otherwise, the Spyder is mechanically identical to the coupe, which gets a 430-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 as the base engine, with the high-revving 525-horsepower Lamborghini 5.2-liter V10 available as an option. Audi’s excellent coupe-only V10 Plus model, which gets an extra 25 horsepower and a little more torque, along with dropping about 130 pounds in the process, is worth the extra bucks. It’s the most track-focused R8 of the bunch, thanks to plenty of carbon-fiber bits, including the side blades, front splitter, rear spoiler and diffuser. There’s also a smaller fuel tank, lighter manual seats and — most importantly — carbon-ceramic brake discs that not only resist fade spectacularly, but are nearly as light as a feather. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and the seven-speed electronically operated sequential is smooth to operate. Power still routes to Audi’s rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive system. From the optional — we would say necessary — 465-watt 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system to the LED headlights with their clear-glass covers, the R8 is a near perfect blend of form, function, luxury and, of course, performance. Zero-to-60 mph is in the 4.5-second range for the V8, while Audi claims the V10 can reach that velocity in less than 3.9 seconds (or four seconds flat in the slightly heavier Spyder). The Plus lops another couple tenths off the regular V10’s time, as does ordering the seven-speed gearbox.