Audi’s famous — and exclusive — paint finish returns to the spotlight with the R8 Panther

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Audi’s bringing back the rear-wheel-drive R8 as a regular production model and because — for the most part — we’ve been good boys and girls this year, Audi’s also giving the U.S. market the added treat of a limited edition model called the R8 Panther Edition. The special edition R8 is exclusive to the Land of the Free, and, among other exclusive goodies, the R8 Panther wears a special paint color that Audi rarely uses. No doubt the Panther Black crystal effect paint solidifies the R8 Panther’s special edition status, just as it did on the RS5 Panther Edition that debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Only 30 units of the R8 RWD Panther are headed to the U.S. where they’ll be sold through select dealerships beginning this month. Each unit of the R8 RWD Panther will carry a starting price of $186,495, including the $1,495 destination charge on top of a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

  • 2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V10
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    532
  • Torque @ RPM:
    398
  • Displacement:
    5.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    201 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Why is this special edition Audi R8 called the Panther?

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Exterior
- image 957366

The special edition R8 takes its name from the rarely used paint color that the RS5 also wore this time last year. You might’ve remembered it from the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. It also used the “Panther” nomenclature, and to great effect, too.

Just like the RS5 Panther Edition, the R8 Panther Edition wears Audi’s Panther Black paint finish.

Lore has it that the Panther Black paint finish isn’t some new concoction by the automaker’s paint experts. It’s been used on Audi models of yesteryear, albeit on very rare occasions. It’s essentially a vaulted pigment that’s only used in the rarest of rare occasions. The Panther Black paint finish looks more like a shade of dark purple up close with a crystal-like effect thrown in for good measure. It’s very fancy in an elegant way, kind of like looking at the stars in a clear night sky.

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Exterior
- image 957358

Of course, not everything on the exterior is covered in the exclusive paint finish. The mirror caps, for example, are dressed in fancy carbon fiber. The emblems have been blacked out, as have the set of 20-inch wheels. The latter does come with bright red trim that adds a splash of color to the overall visual of the R8 Panther. I do suppose that some people might not be too fond of the red trim on the wheels. There’s something to be said for an all-black R8.

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Interior
- image 957346

In any event, red plays a more prominent role in the special edition R8, creating some continuity with the exterior look of the supercar. The racing seats, in particular, wear Crimson Red leather with the rest of the cabin trimmed in black leather and Crimson Red stitching. Alcantara is also present in the presentation. The headliner, gear selector, and steering wheel are all dressed in the soft, suede-like synthetic textile material. Speaking of the steering wheel, a Crimson Red marker is visible on the 12-o’clock marker. Audiophiles should be happy to know that a Bang & Olufsen sound system comes standard on the R8 Panther with 13 speakers included.

Does the special edition R8 prowl like a panther?

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Exterior
- image 957360

Very much so, though expectations on what prowling means should be taken in context.

The Audi R8 Panther Edition is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V-10 engine that roars to the tune of 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

All that power goes to the two rear wheels courtesy of a seven-speed automatic transmission and exhaling through a sport exhaust system. While typically subdued like most panthers are when they’re minding their own business, the Audi R8 Panther can leap from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. Make it angry and you can get smoked to the tune of a 201-mph top speed.

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition specifications
Engine 5.2-liter V-10
Horsepower 532 HP
Torque 398 LB-FT
Transmission seven-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 3.6 seconds
Top Speed 201 mph

How much does the Audi R8 Panther cost?

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Exterior
- image 957362

Pricing for the Audi R8 RWD Panther starts at $186,495. That figure includes a $1,700 gas guzzler tax and a $1,495 destination charge. It’s an admittedly steep price to pay considering that the standard R8 RWD is priced from $142,700. You’re looking at a premium of over $40,000 for the chance to own a super limited R8

Speaking of limited, Audi only plans to send 30 units of the R8 Panther stateside, making it rarer — by a lot — compared to the 100-unit strong RS5 Panther Edition. That’s neither here nor there, though. What matters is that America’s getting the R8 RWD, and a special treat of 30 R8 Panthers is coming along for the ride.

Final Thoughts

2021 Audi R8 Panther Edition Exterior
- image 957363

Color me intrigued. The Audi R8 Panther not only looks the part of a special edition R8, but the limited quantity makes it that much more desirable. I’m a big fan of the Panther Black paint finish. It’s unique. It’s rare. Most importantly, it looks a lot better on the R8 than it did on the RS5. Sorry, RS5. I’m not a fan of the price tag, but I understand why it’s priced that much. There’s a price to be paid for exclusivity, and in the R8 Panther Edition’s case, that price is an extra $40,000. There’s no other way around it.

  • Leave it
    • Cost is steep
    • Limited quantities available
    • No Panther love for the R8 AWD?
Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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