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Audi R8 2020 review

The R8 Audi's supercar looks angrier than ever
EXPERT RATING
7.8
The Audi R8 is a true supercar and a cut-price Lamborghini - but which would you buy?

Supercars can sometimes be seen as the divas of the auto world – delicate, over-the-top, not very good with reality. Well that may be the case for some supercars but not Audi's R8. It's affordable by supercar standards, easy to drive and still very, very fast.

Now the updated R8 has arrived, looking fiercer than ever, but remaining one of the smartest supercar buys on the market. But did you know there are two types of R8? Both have very distinct personalities and I lived with them for two days – in the reality of road works and also ideal country roads.

Here's everything you need to know...

Audi R8 2020: V10 RWD
Safety rating
Engine Type5.2L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12L/100km
Seating2 seats
Price from$246,400

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   10/10

There are two grades in the Audi R8 range – the entry-point R8 V10 RWD which has rear-wheel drive (RWD), and the R8 V10 Performance Quattro which has all-wheel drive (AWD).

Both obviously have V10 engines, it's a naturally aspirated 5.2-litre petrol unit (so no turbos here), but the RWD makes less power and torque at 397kW and 540Nm, while the Performance produces 449kW and 560Nm.

The V10 is mounted behind the driver's seat but ahead of the rear axle making it mid-engined car. The engine even has its own window and you can see it in there with its face pressed up against the glass.

The V10 Performance Coupe and Spyder are both a smidge quicker at 330km/h. The V10 Performance Coupe and Spyder are both a smidge quicker at 330km/h.

There are two body styles as well – the Coupe and Spyder (convertible, roadster, just another word for a retractable soft roof). We'll get to the prices in the next section, but let's talk about the more interesting numbers such as top speeds.

The V10 RWD in coupe form can reach 324km/h and the Spyder can hit 322km/h while the V10 Performance Coupe and Spyder are both a smidge quicker at 330km/h.

Those are all go-straight-to-jail speeds in Australia, so if you're tempted to fact check my numbers then do it on a racetrack. Audi holds excellent track days – I've done them and you'll not only get to drive the R8 as fast as you can, the instructors will help you improve your advanced driving skills, too. Do it, it could save your life.

The V10 RWD in coupe form can reach 324km/h and the Spyder can hit 322km/h. The V10 RWD in coupe form can reach 324km/h and the Spyder can hit 322km/h.

Acceleration from 0-100km/h is rapid – 3.7 seconds and 3.8 seconds for the V10 RWD Coupe and Spyder respectively, while the V10 Performance Coupe and Spyder can nail it in 3.2 seconds and 3.3 seconds.

The V10 engine has a cylinder-on-demand feature which can shut down five of the cylinders while cruising on a motorway, say at 110km/h. It's a fuel-saving system, but keep in mind this V10 loves petrol and lots of it – I've hidden that all the way down the bottom of this review.

Shifting gears in all R8s is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

The entry level R8 RWD Coupe lists for $295,000, while the Spyder version is $316,500. The R8 V10 Performance Coupe is $395,000 and the Spyder is $416,500.

It's in my view the best value supercar on the market. The Lamborghini Huracán Evo shares the same 5.2-litre V10, the transmission and the chassis (like Audi it's part of the Volkswagen family) and starts at $460K.

A Ferrari 488 Pista is pushing $600K, but the McLaren 570S is closer in price at $395,000 – although I find the R8 much less stressful and completely different to drive – read about that below.

Coming standard on the R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder are a full leather interior (new) with heated and power adjustable RS sports seats. Coming standard on the R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder are a full leather interior (new) with heated and power adjustable RS sports seats.

Let's talk features. Coming standard on the R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder are laser LED headlights (new to the R8 for this update), 20-inch cast aluminum wheels (also new), a full leather interior (new) with heated and power adjustable RS sports seats, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker stereo (new, too), sat nav, digital radio, proximity key and wireless device charging (new).

The R8 V10 Performance Coupe gets all of the features above but swaps the wheels for lighter, milled alloy rims, ditches the steel brakes for ceramic (pricey to replace, though), and adds other mechanical extras over the entry car such as Audi's magnetic dampers, plus a carbon-fibre reinforced polymer front swaybar.

What's missing? A central media screen would be good so your passenger can pick the music or follow the sat nav. Audi calls it a 'driver-focused cabin', but the Huracán has a media screen in the centre console.

I think there's a bit of advanced safety equipment missing, too – but that's in the section down further.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

Lamborghini styling can look over the top, McLarens can sometimes appear delicate and fragile, and Ferraris seem to be everywhere, and even for me, begin to blend into one.

The R8, though, looks exactly how an Audi supercar should look – understated, tough and serious. Have you seen that Audi advert with the R8 on a dyno not wearing any pants? That sounds ridiculous but Google it because it sums up what the R8 is – a real car with a raw race car underneath, that's meant to be driven comfortably on the road and hard on a race track and the styling indicates that intent with little in the way of fanfare.

  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD 2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD

Well, there is that big window at the back which shows off the engine and the 'side blades' that surround the large vents carved into the side of the car to cool the engine.

The latest update has taken the design from the second-gen car which arrived in 2016 and added a new grille, front bumper, door sills and vents in the rear bumper. It's a more angular, sharper, and busier design with more vents and winglets than ever.

  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe
  • 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe 2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro Coupe

The R8 V10 RWD and R8 V10 Performance are close to identical in their styling. You can pick the Performance by its gloss carbon front spoiler, side sills, mirror caps and rear diffuser. The RWD has gloss black elements instead.

Which looks best: the Coupe or Spyder? That's a personal thing, but I reckon race cars need to have a hardtop roof, so it's the coupe for me, please.

Built using the 'Audi Space Frame' which weighs only 200kg, the R8 is 4426mm long and just 1240mm tall, but at 1940mm across it has a wide, planted stance.

  • What’s missing? A central media screen would be good so your passenger can pick the music or follow the sat nav. (RWD Coupe cabin pictured) What’s missing? A central media screen would be good so your passenger can pick the music or follow the sat nav. (RWD Coupe cabin pictured)
  • Audi calls it a 'driver-focused cabin', but the Huracán has a media screen in the centre console. (Performance Quattro Coupe cabin pictured) Audi calls it a 'driver-focused cabin', but the Huracán has a media screen in the centre console. (Performance Quattro Coupe cabin pictured)

What's it like to drive?   9/10

A race circuit is the best place to test the performance of an Audi R8. I've been lucky enough to have done this in the past, but for this update of the R8 the Australian launch was held on public roads and included a convoy of RS models such as the RS 6 Avant, RS 7, RS Q3 and TT RS.

Even then I think I was 'stitched up' because I began the day in the R8 V10 Performance Coupe but spent almost the entirety of my allocated time in roadworks at 40km/h before swapping to an RS Q3.

So, while I can't honesty comment about the dynamics on this updated R8 V10 Performance Coupe I can tell you that having driven every iteration of the R8 since 2012 that it's a weapon, with helicopter-like visibility out of that large front window.

The lack of AWD makes the front end feel more pointable, and the car feel more like a traditional sportscar. The lack of AWD makes the front end feel more pointable, and the car feel more like a traditional sportscar.

If, like me, you think turbos are 'cheating' (superchargers are fine), then you'll love the linear power delivery of the R8's naturally aspirated V10, and while I love front-engined sportscars, nothing beats a mid-engined car for the feeling of balance and lightness in the nose while having the sound of thousands of explosions going off just behind your back.

Having AWD is not just great for acceleration and perfect traction from Audi's quattro system, I think it's a good safety feature in a supercar, and while only your judgements can stop things going pear shaped, the system will be there to help on slippery roads.

The following day was different. I was in the R8 V10 RWD, the country roads were superb and while it wasn't a racetrack it was enough to get a hint of the capabilities of the RWD R8.

While the R8 V10 RWD feels the same to sit in with the same great view, it feels different to drive than its faster sibling, in a good way. While the R8 V10 RWD feels the same to sit in with the same great view, it feels different to drive than its faster sibling, in a good way.

While the R8 V10 RWD feels the same to sit in with the same great view, it feels different to drive than its faster sibling, in a good way. First there's the noticeable power difference – more than 50kW and 20Nm less – but also the lack of AWD makes the front end feel more pointable, and the car feel more like a traditional sportscar that pushes from behind rather than pulling from the front. Less power, but more fun.

The RS cars in our test convoy were all awesome machines, but stepping out of even the RS6 Avant and slipping down into the R8 cockpit was like getting into a UFO – it's so far ahead dynamically of any other Audi that all I could do was laugh like an idiot. Corners which were making an RS 7 really struggle, were handled effortlessly by the R8. And in a straight line it's a bullet in a barrel.

The Performance has the better brakes: 380mm ceramic discs with six piston calipers up front and 356mm discs with four piston calipers at the rear. The RWD has steel discs – 365mm with eight piston calipers up front and 356mm discs with four piston calipers in the rear.

The Performance has the better brakes: 380mm ceramic discs with six piston calipers up front and 356mm discs with four piston calipers at the rear. The Performance has the better brakes: 380mm ceramic discs with six piston calipers up front and 356mm discs with four piston calipers at the rear.

Keep in mind if you are planning on track days, you'll find the ceramic discs costly to replace, and beside the stopping power of the steel ones is excellent.

And yet, on pot holed course bitumen the ride is a lot more comfortable than you might think and having driven the Performance in traffic it's a much nicer place to sit than the claustrophobic cabin of a McLaren 570S. You could honestly use the R8 daily.

I began the day in the R8 V10 Performance Coupe but spent almost the entirety of my allocated time in roadworks at 40km/h. I began the day in the R8 V10 Performance Coupe but spent almost the entirety of my allocated time in roadworks at 40km/h.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The R8 is a two-seater supercar and practicality isn't high on its 'to do' list with limited cabin storage in the form door pockets almost as small as my jeans pockets, two cupholders hiding under a trapdoor in the centre armrest, a hidey hole in front of the shifter containing a wireless charger and two USB ports and the glove box.

As for the boot – there are two: one in the nose with a 112-litre cargo capacity and another behind the mid-mounted engine with 226 litres.

Room for people, well you and a friend, is excellent. I'm 191cm (6'3") tall with a 2.0m wingspan and found the footwell deep and spacious, while head and shoulder room is also good.

As for the boot – there are two: one in the nose with a 112-litre cargo capacity and another behind the mid-mounted engine with 226 litres. As for the boot – there are two: one in the nose with a 112-litre cargo capacity and another behind the mid-mounted engine with 226 litres.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   5/10

ANCAP has not tested the Audi R8 so there's no star rating available. What we can tell you is that the R8 has a low level of advanced safety technology – there's no AEB, no adaptive cruise control, no rear cross traffic alert, nor blind spot warning, nor lane keeping assistance. That's the reason why the score is so low here.

The R8 does have electronic stability control and ABS, and active roll over protection, plus six airbags, although the Spyder doesn't have curtain airbags.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

That's like asking how many calories are in this pavlova that I'm about to push into my mouth? Seriously if you're asking then you shouldn't be eating it – or driving the R8.

But just for the record, according to Audi the RWD R8 uses 12.0L/100km in Coupe form and 12.2L/100km in Spyder guise after a combination of urban and open roads, while the AWD R8 of course will use more at 13.4L/100km for both Coupe and Spyder.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The R8 is covered by Audi's three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which not only falls behind in duration compared to mainstream brands but also its direct rival Mercedes-Benz which now has five-year, unlimited kilometre coverage.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km but unlike other Audi models there isn't a three-year or five-year plan available.

Either way the R8 is a true supercar, but one that doesn’t have to be driven gingerly as though something may break off. Either way the R8 is a true supercar, but one that doesn’t have to be driven gingerly as though something may break off.

Verdict

The Audi R8 V10 RWD and V10 Performance Quattro have their own personalities. I'm a big fan of the lower-powered rear-wheel drive car, but the Performance is the ultimate here with better brakes and that 330km/h top speed. Either way the R8 is a true supercar, but one that doesn't have to be driven gingerly as though something may break off.

Pricing guides

$414,000
Based on 3 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$414,000
Highest Price
$424,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RWS 5.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $214,500 – 271,260 2020 Audi R8 2020 RWS Pricing and Specs
Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro 5.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $278,300 – 351,890 2020 Audi R8 2020 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Plus 5.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $304,100 – 384,450 2020 Audi R8 2020 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Plus Pricing and Specs
V10 Spyder Performance Quattro 5.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $347,800 – 439,780 2020 Audi R8 2020 V10 Spyder Performance Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Engine & trans10
Price and features9
Design9
Driving9
Practicality7
Safety5
Fuel consumption7
Ownership6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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