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Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD review: Buy one if you can, while you still can

By Kenny Yeo - 18 Jun 2023

Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD review: Buy one if you can, while you still can

Note: This review was first published on 31 May 2023.

The R8 might be getting on in years but it still looks handsome and striking.

If you like cars and are of a certain age, you’ll probably remember the hype surrounding the first R8 when it was launched in 2007. It was Iron Man’s car and it was the dream car for a generation of petrolheads. But it was more than just a marketing exercise for Audi, this was a supremely capable supercar that you could genuinely use every day. And 16 long years on, this is still mostly true. But sadly, the R8 lineage is coming to an end. The next one, if there’s even any, will surely be electric. So I thought it was only right that I spend some time with it to say goodbye.

The TL;DR version:

It might be showing its age a little but the R8 is still an immensely capable everyday supercar. 

The highlight of the R8 is its 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10.

The main reason why anyone might want an R8 before it’s discontinued is because of its engine. It’s a naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 and it’s a masterpiece. Alright, it might feel like it’s lacking grunt lowdown if you are coming from something turbocharged, but no forced induction motor can come close to the responsiveness of this motor. Twitch your big toe and you are rewarded with motive force and revs. And once you wind it past 5,500rpm it catapults you down the road and explodes with power and furious noise.

Ah, noise. It’s choked by oil particulate filters and it sounds less sonorous than the pre-facelift versions, but this is still one of the best-sounding cars you can buy today. Cold starts are surprisingly loud and that distinctive V10 noise is still plain for all to hear. It's a complex-sounding thing that is parts warble, howl, and growl. And as it approaches its redline, you can hear the mechanical noise of the valvetrain, furiously working away to let the engine breathe. It reminds us why we love high-revving naturally-aspirated engines.

Wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres mean lots of grip.

Audi claims 570hp, 550nm of torque, and zero to 100km/h time of 3.7 seconds. It genuinely feels that quick. I know this much performance is almost meaningless on public roads, but the way it zips around and the ease with which you can go for openings on the highway has to count for something.

The way it handles and rides is joyous. It’s confidence-inspiring partly because you sit low and close to the ground. This is a wide car but you don’t really feel it because the steering is responsive and accurate, and the view out is good. And thanks to wide tyres (245 fronts, 305 rears) and minimal body roll, you’ll run out of guts long before you run out of grip. You can place it with real accuracy and conviction. Having Michelin Pilot PS4 S rubber helps too.

It may look low but ground clearance is sufficient. I didn't have any issues with carparks.

Singapore will only be getting the RWD version but I doubt most of its buyers will notice because unless you absolutely pin it or are intentionally deliberate with your inputs, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice power only goes to the rear.

Even though R8s coming to our island won’t have adaptive dampers, I think the ride is well-judged. Audi Sport seems to have really nailed the damper settings of its cars lately because, like the RS3, the R8 is firm but always pliant and composed. Even over less well-paved roads, it’s never unsettled or jarring. That’s remarkable in the context of a supercar. 

The cabin is smart but there's no dedicated infotainment display and that may be frustrating to some.

The quality of materials in the cabin is high – lots of leather and a fairly generous sprinkling of carbon fibre here and there. The air-con controls, which have integrated digital displays in physical knobs, still look especially sleek after all these years. The seats are supportive and the seating position is spot on.

One somewhat controversial aspect of the cabin is the lack of a dedicated infotainment display. Instead, everything is displayed on and accessed through the virtual cockpit in the instrument cluster. The reason, says Audi, is because the R8 is a driver’s car.

Fuel consumption can be tragic. Over a weekend, I managed just 5.49km/l. But thanks to the large fuel tank, you almost manage 400km between fill-ups.

And this is where you are painfully aware that this is a car on its last legs. Long-time Audi customers will recognise that it's running an older version of the Audi MMI and having to navigate it using the steering wheel and MMI knob on the centre console can be exasperating after being used to touchscreen interfaces in newer cars. And while Apple CarPlay is supported, it requires a cable to work.

Other complaints? Fuel consumption is tragic, but that’s to be expected for something with a big V10. Storage is also not great. There’s a shelf behind the seats and they do hold a good amount but they are hard to reach unless you are fairly flexible. The frunk is quite an odd shape and so it doesn’t hold as much as the spec sheet suggests. You easily get away with a large duffel bag or small carry-on but nothing more. There’s no question a 911 is more practical. But then a 911 doesn’t look nor sound as exotic as an R8. 

This is a supercar that is comfortable and practical enough to drive every day.

It’s also a bit of a bargain. It’s weird calling a car that costs nearly S$900,000 a bargain but then the R8 costs significantly less than a Lamborghini Huracán (with which it is mechanically identical) and many other cars in its class. The least expensive mid-engine Ferrari is at least half a million dollars more.

The R8 may not have an exotic badge on the front but this is a car with a real breadth of talent. It’s a supercar that looks and sounds the part, and crucially, is comfortable and practical enough (almost) to be used and driven every day. And at the heart of it is its glorious naturally-aspirated V10. If you are shopping for a new supercar with your sensible cap on, it’s hard not to look at it and ask why would you buy anything else? We will miss it when it’s gone.

The good
  • Incredible V10 motor
  • V10 noise
  • Supercar looks
  • Very quick
  • Comfortable enough to drive daily
  • Cheaper than rivals
The bad
  • Infotainment system showing its age
  • Very thirsty 
  • Not much storage space
  • Rivals are quicker

Price and availability

The Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD is available now with prices starting at S$874,055. A convertible version is also available with prices starting at S$969,112.

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