This two-seat mid-engine sports car is named after Audi's Le Mans-winning racecar, and for 2011, it's available as a hardtop coupe and new R8 Spyder roadster. Like the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo with which it competes, the R8 has a mid-mounted engine. It features a weight-saving aluminum body and Quattro all-wheel drive, and the coupe has an optional V-10 engine that's more powerful than the standard V-8. The Spyder comes only with the V-10.
New for 2011
A limited-edition GT model uses carbon fiber to trim 180 pounds, and it features a 560-horsepower version of Audi's 5.2-liter V-10 engine.
The R8's front end is dominated by air-intake grates and Audi's trapezoidal grille. Distinguishing features include sideblade air intakes behind the doors that route air to the engine. Rectangular LED taillights are standard, and a power-extendable rear spoiler provides additional downforce at high speeds.
V-10 model get larger side air intakes, unique rocker panel shaping, "V 10" front fender badges and a larger rear diffuser. Exterior features include:
- 19-inch alloy wheels standard
- Optional carbon fiber sideblade
- Optional LED headlights
- Transparent canopy in rear allows view of the engine
- Quad exhaust pipes on V-8 models
- Dual exhaust tips on V-10 models
The R8's two-person cabin has standard sport seats covered in leather or Alcantara simulated suede and leather. A navigation system with Audi's Multi Media Interface system is available. MMI controls vehicle settings via a knob and buttons on the center of the dashboard. Audi says there's room for two golf bags behind the rear seats. V-10 models get different instrument-cluster labeling. Interior features include:
- Standard six-CD changer
- Flat-bottom steering wheel for easier entry and exit
- Standard Bluetooth hands-free phone interface
- Homelink garage-door opener now standard
- Available carbon fiber interior trim
- Available Bang & Olufsen audio system
- Available rearview camera
Under the Hood
The standard 4.2-liter V-8 engine makes 420 hp and 317 pounds-feet of torque. The base 5.2-liter V-10 makes 525 hp and 391 pounds-feet of torque. The version in the R8 GT makes 560 hp, and Audi claims a top speed of 199 mph.
The R8 has an adaptive four-wheel-independent suspension. Similar to General Motors' Magnetic Ride Control, the Audi Magnetic Ride system can pass an electrical charge through the shocks' fluid to instantly change its damping properties. One of two modes — one geared toward performance and the other designed for comfort — can be selected by the driver. Mechanical features include:
- Quattro all-wheel drive
- Standard six-speed manual transmission
- Optional R tronic sequential manual with automatic mode
- R tronic can be shifted by console lever or steering-wheel paddles
Standard safety features include:
- Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with traction control
- Electronic stability system
- Seat-mounted side-impact airbags
- Knee airbag
- Front seat belt pretensioners
Audi adds a roadster version of its R8 supercar for the 2011 model year with the debut of the R8 Spyder, which hits U.S. dealerships in summer 2010. Unlike the R8 coupe, which comes standard with a V-8 engine, the R8 Spyder is only offered with a 5.2-liter V-10 that makes 525 horsepower.
That's quite a few ponies, and it results in some impressive performance figures. Audi claims the R8 Spyder can rocket from zero to 62 mph in just 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 194 mph.
The curvaceous lines of the R8 coupe haven't been compromised in its transformation to a convertible, and although the vents stretching rearward from the driver and passenger seats are neat design cues, it's a shame you can't see the midengine like you can in the hardtop R8. LED headlights are standard, as are 19-inch wheels.
For times when top-down motoring just won't do, the R8 Spyder has a power-operated soft-top that Audi claims can open or close in a swift 19 seconds. You don't have to be completely stationary for the top to work, either, as it's functional up to about 30 mph.