The 2017 Audi R8 exotic sports car isn't the only fully redesigned Audi this year that looks an awful lot like its predecessor (ahem, A4). But in the R8's case, at least, that might be more of a compliment than a criticism. After all, the first-generation R8 was so Hollywood cool that it served as Iron Man's steed, and it was still turning heads when it bowed out in 2015. The challenge, as Audi saw it, was to preserve the R8's curb appeal while adding contemporary technology and even more performance to its repertoire.
As before, the all-wheel-drive 2017 R8 is based on a sister car from Lamborghini. This time, it is the new Huracan, which is a replacement for the discontinued Gallardo. Gone, for better or worse, are the original R8's sultry base V8 engine and distinctive exposed-gate manual transmission. With the new R8, you can have any powertrain you like as long as it's a screaming Lamborghini-derived 5.2-liter V10 paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. There are probably a few people who will lament the loss of the old-school manual, but there's so much greatness with the precise S tronic automated gearbox that's it hard to really complain.
Of more significance, in fact, is what has happened on the inside of the 2017 R8. The first-generation's cabin layout and features had become rather dated the past few years, so the 2017 R8's interior gets a full-strength dose of Audi's cutting-edge design and technology. The gauge cluster facing the driver is filled by the company's unique Virtual Cockpit, a high-resolution 12.3-inch screen that dynamically resizes the speedometer and tachometer to render infotainment functions in between. As with the new Audi TT, this solution obviates the need for a separate display elsewhere, so the R8's dashboard is refreshingly uncluttered. Also of note is the new steering wheel, which boasts Ferrari-style integrated buttons for ignition and driving-mode selection.
If you're shopping for a sports car in this price range, we envy the options before you. The current Porsche 911 Turbo has enjoyed incremental improvements during its run, and this includes further enhancements for 2017. If you like the sound and fury of a supercharged V8, the world-class Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a true performance bargain, while the Jaguar F-Type SVR coupe punches out 575 hp and comes paired with all-wheel drive. Arguably the car you'll want to pay the most attention to, though, will be Acura's hot new NSX, which packs a 550-hp gas-electric hybrid powertrain and the promise of Honda/Acura reliability and usability.
Clearly, there's no shortage of tantalizing choices here, but the 2017 Audi R8 certainly makes a strong case for being your everyday supercar.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 R8 includes antilock brakes, stability control, side airbags, knee airbags and head curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are also standard.
Somewhat surprisingly, advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation with automatic braking are unavailable.
2017 Audi R8 models
The 2017 Audi R8 is a two-seat midengine exotic sports car offered in coupe form only. There are two trim levels: V10 and V10 Plus.
Standard equipment on the V10 includes 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, automatic high beams, LED engine-compartment lighting, adaptive magnetic-ride suspension dampers, adjustable drive settings (Drive Select), front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming power-folding heated side mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, 18-way power seats (with adjustable side and leg bolsters), automatic climate control, a synthetic-suede headliner, Audi Connect online services with mobile WiFi, Audi's MMI infotainment system, a navigation system, voice controls, a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument and infotainment display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with satellite radio, dual USB ports and an auxiliary input jack.
Options on the V10 include 20-inch wheels, larger carbon-ceramic brakes, red-painted brake calipers, variable-ratio steering, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim and extended leather upholstery (with or without diamond stitching).
The R8 V10 Plus gets a 70-hp boost and also comes standard with the carbon-ceramic brakes, a sport suspension with conventional (non-adaptive) dampers, a carbon-fiber exterior trim package (including a fixed rear spoiler), an additional "Performance" mode for the Drive Select system, a smaller fuel tank, sport exhaust, a sport steering wheel, partial power sport seats with fixed seatbacks (no recline) and a relatively basic five-speaker audio system.
If you want the extra power but wish you could have the base model's luxuries, you're mostly in luck. The V10 Plus can optionally be equipped with the 18-way power seats, extended leather upholstery and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. Also optional are the 20-inch wheels and variable-ratio steering. You're stuck with the smaller gas tank and conventional suspension, however.
The 2017 Audi R8 is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 mounted behind the seats beneath a transparent engine cover. In the base V10 model, it generates 540 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque, while the V10 Plus levels up to 610 hp and 413 lb-ft. All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automated manual transmission ("S tronic") are standard across the lineup.
According to Audi, the regular R8 V10 can accelerate to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds, while the V10 Plus cuts that down to 3.2 seconds.
We haven't yet subjected a 2017 Audi R8 to full Edmunds testing. Based on other initial tests, the R8 looks to be exceptionally capable, with 0-60-mph acceleration occurring in less than 3 seconds and racecar-like grip and composure. The V10 also produces a beguiling howl at high rpm that's unlike the typical V8 auditory broadside. But check back soon for our detailed evaluation covering the new R8's ride, handling, interior noise, outward visibility and more.
The R8's cabin has always offered an ergonomic control layout and fine materials, particularly compared to other exotic sports cars. However, the first-generation model was hampered by anachronisms like an early version of the MMI infotainment system that utilized a relatively clunky dashboard-mounted control knob. Thankfully, the new R8 gives up nothing inside to any other Audi model. Following the latest TT's lead, it employs the innovative Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, which groups all driving and infotainment functions into a single high-resolution screen in front of the driver. Also, the MMI controller now has the ability to recognize inputs scrawled via fingertip, and it's located on the console between the seats, where it falls readily to hand. The downside to this driver-centric system, however, is that the passenger has little ability to look at or adjust those infotainment functions.
The R8's two available seat designs occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. The base 18-way power chairs are both supportive in spirited driving and comfortable for touring, but the racing seats that comes standard in the V10 Plus lose the power functions (except height) and aren't even able to recline. If you plan to take your R8 to the racetrack on a regular basis, these seats may hold appeal, but we're glad that Audi makes the more luxurious seats an option for less aggressive V10 Plus buyers.
Audi pegs the 2017 R8's cargo capacity at just 8.0 cubic feet, which includes both the front trunk (remember, the engine's in the back) and a small space behind the seats. That's stingy even by supercar normsOptions
Adjustable Steering Wheel
Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
Auxiliary Audio Input
Daytime Running Lights
Driver Adjustable Lumbar
Driver Air Bag
Driver Illuminated Vanity Mirror
Driver Vanity Mirror
Front Side Air Bag
Knee Air Bag
Leather Steering Wheel
Passenger Adjustable Lumbar
Passenger Air Bag
Passenger Air Bag Sensor
Passenger Illuminated Visor Mirror
Passenger Vanity Mirror
Power Door Locks
Power Folding Mirrors
Remote Trunk Release
Rollover Protection Bars
Steering Wheel Audio Controls
Transmission w/Dual Shift Mode
Universal Garage Door Opener
Variable Speed Intermittent Wipers
10 Cylinder Engine
All Wheel Drive
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