Audi R8
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Overall

Audi’s fantastic mid-engined two-seat sports car gets the longest list of changes yet; returns in delectable coupe and soft-top Spyder formats.

Drivetrain

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 new Plus model; new smooth seven-speed automated manual replaces clunky six-speed version; Quattro, of course.

Although Audi began showing pictures of revised R8 some time ago, it’s only recently that the whole picture is becoming clearer. And it really is just about perfect. The LED lightpipes (around the headlights) are more angular now, 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 just 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. For 2014, Audi reveals its 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. 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 A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but the six-speed electronically operated sequential has been replaced by a smoother seven-speed unit. 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.

Base price (incl. destination): $115,900 (V8); $129,500 (Spyder V8); $152,200 (V10); $165,700 (Spyder V10); $171,500 (V10 Plus)
Type: Two-door sports coupe/roadster
Base engine (hp): 4.2-liter DOHC V8 (430)
Optional engine (hp): 5.2-liter DOHC V10 (525; 550, V10 Plus)
Layout: Mid-engine, all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; seven-speed sequential manual (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 14/23 (V8)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 3,580