The ultimate road-going R8?

Introduced in 2015, the second-generation Audi R8 was facelifted for the 2019 model year. The mid-cycle upgrade arrived rather soon, suggesting that the supercar might be redesigned in three years or so. The facelift brought a sportier exterior, a mildly altered interior, and important changes under the hood. Likewise, the R8 V10 Plus model was renamed the V10 Performance.

Sharing 50 percent of components with the R8 LMS GT3 race car shown at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, the revised R8 looks more aggressive than ever. It’s also significantly more powerful than before, with up to 30 horsepower added to the 5.2-liter V-10 engine. It’s also the first R8 to surpass 200 mph in every trim, including Spyder models. Although it was originally believed that Audi might add a new GT model to the lineup, the sportier car spotted testing in Europe turned out to be just the regular facelift. Let’s find out more about all of that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8.

Audi R8 Exterior

  • Based on LMS GT3 race car
  • Flatter, wider grille
  • Revised bumper vents
  • Wider diffuser
  • Front hood slats
  • New wheels
  • Full-width rear grille
  • Revised diffuser
  • Round exhaust pipes
2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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You don't need to make a big effort to notice why the revised R8 looks more aggressive and draws styling cues from the LMS GT3 race car.

This is more than obvious up front, where the grille became flatter and wider at the center.

But it’s not just the grille that the R8 borrowed from its race-spec sibling. The shape of the bumper vents are also very similar. Whereas the old R8 has almost rectangular intakes, the new R8 sports sharper openings angled toward the center grille. Sure, the road cars doesn’t feature the massive winglets of the LMS GT3, but small, triangular outlets, this time around with no real use, round out the lower corners of the bumper.

Down below, the splitter was widened to cover the entire width of the bumper. Above, three thin slits bridge the gap between the front hood and the grille. Also taken from the race car, these elements are actually a tribute to the original Audi Ur Quattro of the 1980s. The headlamps seem to be same as far as shape and size go, but additional slits separate them from the grille’s body-colored frame.

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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There’s nothing much to talk about onto the sides other than mildly reshaped side skirts, which are a bit more aggressive now, and new 19-inch wheels. Behind the rims you’ll find steel discs painted in red as standard. You can opt for black discs though.

Around back, Audi replaced the side vents with a grille that stretches over the entire width of the fascia.

The element is also a bit flatter, as the diffuser in the bumper has been drawn upward for a more race-inspired look. The diffuser itself is a bit different, although it maintains the shape and size of the old model.

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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Arguably the biggest change here are the exhaust pipes.

The rectangular outlets integrated into the body are gone, replaced by bigger, round pipes placed into their out frames on each side of the diffuser.

Finally, you can now choose from three exterior packages depending on the engine variant. These packages add various highlights to the front splitter, the side skirts and the diffuser. The V10 model comes standard with highlights in high-gloss black, while the V10 Performance version features matte titanium accents. Audi also offers a high-gloss carbon package for both cars. You can also select the Audi rings and badges painted in high-gloss black, as well as two new metallic colors, Kemora Grey and Ascari Blue.

Audi R8 Interior

  • Same old interior
  • New upholstery colors
  • New stitching
  • Still modern
  • Lots of Audi Exclusive features
2019 Audi R8 Interior
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Audi was rather brief in describing the interior, saying that the "new look" includes the "Audi R8 interior with its driver focus and new color and stitching options." This pretty much means that the cabin carries over unchanged.

Fortunately, Audi changed quite a few things inside when it redesigned the R8 back in 2015 and the supercar still looks fresh.

Highlights include a flat-bottom steering wheel with controls mounted on the crossbars, a digital instrument cluster behind it with and carbon-fiber detailing on the sides. The clean center stack and console keep things simple so you can focus on the road ahead. Yes, this means that the R8 still doesn’t have a big infotainment screen on the dashboard. Granted, it’s rather unpleasant if you’re using this vehicle as a daily driver, but it keep the R8 a true performance car rather than an appliance on wheels.

2019 Audi R8 Interior
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The virtual cockpit, which includes a 12.3-inch screen, shows a wide variety of information, including data you'd usually get in an infotainment display placed on the center stack.

Both the MMI navigation system and the MMi touch wheel are standard. The Audi Connect module gives the passenger the ability to connect his smartphone or table to the car using the Wi-Fi hotspot.

When it comes to materials covering the cabin, you get the same options. There’s an Alcantara and Nappa leather combo for a sportier look or the optional full Nappa leather for the classier appearance. As usual, you can customize the cabin using a range of features from Audi Exclusive, such as different colors for the leather and stitching, and various trim choices, including carbon-fiber.

Audi R8 Drivetrain

  • Revised 5.2-liter V-10
  • Base model with 570 horsepower
  • V10 Performance with 620 horsepower
  • 0 to 62 as quick as 3.1 seconds
  • Top speed of up to 205 mph
  • Standard all-wheel-drive system
2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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While many facelifts carry over with no changes output-wise, the R8 is actually notably more powerful following this upgrade.

The base model now comes with 570 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque on tap.

That’s an extra 30 horsepower and seven pound-feet that Audi obtained by upgrading various internals. However, the R8 isn’t exactly quicker, needing the same 3.4 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start. This figure is for the coupe, while the Spyder is a tenth-second slower at 3.5 clicks.

But while it’s not quicker, the new R8 is faster. And for the first time ever, all versions of the car hit the 200-mph mark. In this case, the base model reaches 201 mph in coupe form and 200 mph as a convertible.

Moving over to the range-topping R8 V10 Performance, the power increase isn’t as significant.

The optimized valve train with titanium components added only 10 horsepower and 15 pound-feet, rounding off the new output at 620 horses and 428 pound-feet of twist.

The extra grunt makes the V10 Performance three tenths quicker than the base model. Specifically, the coupe hits 62 mph in 3.1 seconds, while the Spyder gets there in 3.2 clicks.

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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The Performance variant is also faster, topping out at 205 mph with a roof and 204 mph with the canvas top folded behind the seats.

One final important upgrade is the new particulate filter, which reduces emissions more effectively.

With environment restrictions become more stringent, Audi needs to cut down carbon-dioxide emissions to be able to keep the R8 in dealerships with a big V-10 engine under the hood.

Like before, all R8 models are fitted with an all-wheel-drive system that diverts up to 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels. This takes place in normal driving conditions for a more dynamic experience. However, when things get slippery, up to 100 percent of the power can be diverted to the front wheels for better traction.

Audi R8 Suspension

  • Upgraded suspension
  • More stable and precise
  • Revised driving modes
  • Ceramic brakes
  • Reduced stopping distance
2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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Audi made some changes to the suspension too. The Germans claim the supercar is now more stable and precise, but doesn’t mention the specific upgrades that were made. However, Audi mentions that the optional dynamic steering and the electromechanical power steering have been improved too.

In addition, the company’s performance division, Audi Sport, revised the profiles of the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, which includes comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual, so that they stand out even clearer than before. So you’ll notice bigger differences between them.

The V10 Performance model now comes with the additional dry, wet, and snow driving modes standard.

These settings adapt the dynamic parameters of the drivertrain to the friction coefficient of the road. The system works in conjunction with the revised Electronic Stabilisation Control to help the V10 Performance model brake from 62 mph to a standstill up to 1.5 meters earlier than before. The stopping distance from 124 mph is also up to five meters shorter.

Stopping power comes from ceramic brakes. The calipers are finished in either grey or red, depending on the model. Audi also offers an anti-roll bar for the front axle made from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and aluminium. Not only it improves performance, but also cuts weight by around two kg.

Audi R8 Prices

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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The outgoing model retails from $164,900 in coupe form and from $177,100 in the Spyder variant. The V10 Plus, which will be renamed the V10 Performance, starts from $194,400 and $208,100, respectively. Expect the sticker to increase by no more than $5,000. Audi still offers a rear-wheel drive version of the coupe, called the V10 RWS and priced from $138,700, but there’s no word on an updated variant of this model yet.

Audi R8 Competition

Porsche 911 Turbo

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi R8 is usually compared to the Porsche 911 Turbo, even though the latter has a different layout and a smaller engine. While the 911 Turbo is less powerful than the R8, it’s quicker due to its lighter weight and better dynamics. The 911 Turbo S hit the streets with a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter flat-six rated at 580 horsepower. But even though the Porsche is significantly less powerful than the R8 V10 Performance, it’s quicker, needing only 2.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. Besides being quicker, the 911 Turbo S is also more affordable, retailing from $190,700 before options.

Read our full story on the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo.

Ferrari 488 GTB

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Granted, the 488 GTB is a superior supercar in just about every aspect, but it also competes in a more expensive segment. This works against Audi though, as the 488 GTB not only benefits from a badge with superior heritage, but it also boasts a more appealing design, better fit and finish, and a more powerful drivetrain. The 488 GTB draws juice from a turbocharged V-8 engine that replaced the all-motor unit in the 458 Italia. The mill cranks out 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of twist, which is enough to push the coupe from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. More impressively, the GTB is one of the fastest Ferraris on the company’s Fiorano track, having lapped it quicker than both the 458 Italia and the mighty Enzo. Its top speed is similar to the R8 at 205 mph. The 488 GTB is pretty expensive though, coming in at around $350,000.

Read our full review of the 2018 Ferrari 488 GTB.

McLaren 720S

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Developed as a replacement for the 650S, the 720S is by far the most aggressive looking supercar in this comparison. Inspired by the P1, the 720S has an organic look that stands out among similar vehicles. Its interior is also heavily oriented toward track racing, featuring a no-nonsense driver’s compartment and a rotating instrument cluster that becomes narrow for track duty. It also has the performance to obliterate everything in its path, with the 4.0-liter V-8 tuned to deliver a whopping 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. The 720S is among the quickest sports cars on the market, needing only 2.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. Its top speed is also superior to the competition, being rated at 212 mph. More good news comes from the pricing department, as the 720S is more affordable than the Ferrari 488 GTB at $284,745. Granted, it’s notably more expensive than the Audi R8, but it’s also a better car in every way.

Read our full story on the McLaren 720S.

Conclusion

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
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While I’m a bit disappointed that rumors about Audi working on a new GT version of the R8 didn’t come true, I must admit that this facelift exceeded my expectations. Not only it looks a lot like the LMS GT3 race car, which is awesomely cool, the revised R8 is also a bit more powerful. Compared to most facelifts out there, Audi actually put some effort into its supercar. Sure, some notable interior upgrades would have been great, but the facelift brings just enough new features to keep the R8 relevant for at least two more years. With rumors claiming that there won’t be a third-generation model, it’s good to see a bit more power and a more aggressive exterior. And why not, maybe Audi is actually planning a new GT model.

  • Leave it
    • No interior upgrades
    • Still kind of expensive

Further Reading

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi R8.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi R8 Spyder.

2011 Audi R8 GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2011 Audi R8 GT.

2018 Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus.

Audi Could Be Adding a New Take on Its Logo
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Read more Audi news.

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