Vehicle Type: Performance Coupe / Convertible
History Description: When Audi’s mid-engine R8 performance car hit the road in 2009, it was pasted, in poster form, onto the bedroom walls of car buffs around the globe, while simultaneously earning a reputation for being an extreme performance machine with incredible driving dynamics and everyday usability.
This first-generation R8, which spanned model years 2010 to 2014 inclusive, was easy to drive. Had a decent trunk. Was tall-person friendly. Had a surprisingly comfortable drive. Could be used in winter. The list goes on; and for pricing similar to a hot Porsche 911, the R8 packed looks that’d attract a crowd of drooling teenagers faster than an overpopulated PokéStop.
Feature content included navigation, a Bang and Olufsen stereo system, Bluetooth, MMI Interface, driver computer, navigation, heated leather, automatic climate control, LED headlights, and plenty more. A back-up camera with distance sensors was available, too. All models are two-seaters with a trunk in the front, and a V8 or V10 engine in the middle.
Engines / Trim: In the used market, R8 4.2 indicates a model with the V8 engine, which should be sufficient for most drivers in terms of performance thrills. The 4.2L high-revving V8 spins up 420 hp, redlines at 8,000 rpm, and sounds pure exotic hot-rod. The R8 5.2 gets a 5.2L V10, pushes power output up to 520, revs higher, and is explosively fast.
If ‘R-Tronic’ shows up in the seller’s description, it indicates that the model has the ‘automatic’ transmission. A convertible or ‘Spyder’ model was available with either engine. Note that special models, like the R8 GT and R8 V10 Plus boasted unique feature content and boosted power output.
What Owners Like: Owners love the exclusivity, style, performance and bragging rights that come as part of the R8 experience. Relative ease of entry and exit, and an everyday-comfortable ride are noted. Some owners note that highway cruising fuel mileage is surprisingly thrifty, too. Finally, many owners report that the customization process, and various unique styling and feature content options, helped deliver added exclusivity.
What Owners Dislike: Limited cargo storage and a sometimes-fussy MMI interface are among the most common owner complaints. Rearward visibility can be challenging without the back-up camera system.
Here’s a look at some Audi R8 Owner Reviews.
The Test Drive: Start your visit with a used R8 candidate by inspecting the vehicle’s tires and brakes. Ensure the seller isn’t passing off a set of rubber or brake pads and rotors that are in need of replacement. Unevenly worn tires can indicate a larger problem with alignment, and grooves in the brake rotor surface are another trouble sign that a brake job is in the vehicle’s immediate future.
Approach any used R8 assuming that the seller is trying to pass off the replacement cost of tires and brakes onto you, until you, or a mechanic at an Audi dealer confirms otherwise. Given the complicated and low-volume nature of the R8, a pre-purchase inspection is best carried out at an Audi dealer, and should be considered mandatory.
The new generation: 2017 Audi R8 First Drive
Check all interior electronics twice – paying special attention to the MMI system and ensuring it activates, boots up and manipulates various functions properly. Confirm that the controller knob reacts to all inputs, and that all buttons do the same. Sometimes, issues can be fixed with a hard reset (cheap), and other times, they require MMI system replacement (not cheap).
Shift the manual transmission quickly, ensuring the clutch ‘bites’ hard, and works without slippage. Some owners report electronic dialing-back of engine power when shifting quickly if the clutch is slipping, which is intended to increase the lifespan of the clutch. As the R8 has a high likelihood of aggressive driving in its past, be on the lookout for signs of excessive clutch wear, noting that a slipping clutch typically emits a gunpowder-like smell when full throttle is applied in a low gear.
Avoid any model that’s been given extensive ‘upgrades’ beyond intake and exhaust work – as modified engine electronics or internals may adversely affect reliability in the short and long term. If the model your considering has aftermarket wheels, be sure they’re properly fitted, and of high-quality. Each wheel and tire should be inspected carefully, on both inner and outer surfaces, for signs of cracks, damage or other issues.
If equipped, engage the back-up camera and parking assist systems, several times, on the course of your test drive. Ensure both work as expected, and note the resolution and response time of the back-up camera engagement. Though relatively inconclusive, issues relating to the back-up sensors and reverse camera could be caused by faulty wiring, a bad module, or a bad ground that’s corroded or come loose. Note that a garbled back-up camera display image is another trouble sign.
Here’s a discussion in an Audi R8 Owners Forum where some existing owners lend a shopper some advice before he purchases a used R8. The gist? Checking for signs of shock-absorber leaks and poor general condition, especially with the available magnetic dampers, seems to be a mandatory pre-purchase check, given the potential for issues and pricey repair costs. The owners also stress the importance of a pre-purchase inspection, and especially, one that runs the air conditioner through its paces, as it can be pricey to repair associated components.
Here’s a great car to get an accident report on, as well as checking thoroughly for signs of damage and poor accident repair work. And, accident report or not, check the lower edge of the front bumper, and its underside, for signs of damage caused by bottoming out over curbs and speed-bumps, which could indicate careless driving.
Here’s another discussion which advises used R8 shoppers to check for aluminum corrosion (the aluminum version of rust) on the R8’s body panel edges, including the door edges, door sills, and hood edge.
And finally, another discussion where numerous owners encourage a potential R8 shopper to ‘go for it’, citing excellent drivability and reliable operation.
A final note: if you’re considering an R8, be sure to budget for a few extras. First? A trickle charger, for the battery, for when you’ll park the R8 for extended periods. Keeping the battery fully charged can help prevent frustrating electronics issues down the line. Second? A quality car cover, to keep your R8 protected from dust, dirt and scrapes if it’s going to spend the winter in your garage. Third? A full fluid change and tune-up, if service records are unclear. And fourth, some owners say that since the R8’s engine bay is an extra-hot place, many have had any rubber components (belts, ignition wires, hoses) changed preemptively to avoid problems, especially on higher-mileage units.
Finally, many owners recommend keeping some money aside in case the R8 you’re considering does require repair or replacement to a pricey part or component. Parts and labor to repair and maintain an R8 are not inexpensive.
The Verdict: If you find a good deal on a model you like, and can afford it while sparing extra funds for a quality tune-up, fluid change, trickle-charger and repair contingency fund, you’re likely on your way to enjoying one of the world’s most popular and easy-to-drive performance cars. A Certified Pre-Owned model, with any extended warranty available, is your safest bet.
Here’s a single recall.
Crash Test Results