Currently reading: Nearly-new buying guide: Audi R8
A supercar with ace handling and an atmo V10 is a steal at £70k - but make sure you're committed
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3 mins read
6 August 2020

Forget the pumped-up TT jibes: the R8 may come from the maker of sensible SUVs, saloons and hatchbacks, but it’s without a doubt one of the most exciting supercars around. To sit in it and drive it is evidence enough of this, but to hear it at full pelt is to fall in love.

This second-generation R8 has been around since 2015, with an open-top Spyder variant for fresh-air freaks launched a year later. Its defining characteristic, at least initially, was its quattro four-wheel drive system and its wonderful naturally aspirated and deeply sonorous 5.2-litre V10. Truth be told, it’s something of a belter, this engine, which was initially available with 532bhp or, in the R8 Plus, 602bhp. An update in 2019 increased the oomph even more, to 562bhp and 611bhp in the renamed Performance.

Unsurprisingly, the R8 goes like stink: every version can hit 60mph from a standstill in around 3.0sec and top 200mph. The only letdown is an occasionally jerky dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

And the R8 isn’t just about straight-line speed: it also corners brilliantly, with a graceful fluidity. It rides well, too, and despite it being about as wide as Belgium, you won’t need the arms of a boxer to steer it, because its wheel is delightfully light.

In 2018, Audi added a rear-wheel-drive version. Limited to 999 examples, the RWS was available in both bodystyles. Thoroughly re-engineered and much lighter and more agile, it quickly became the R8 of choice for the keener driver, despite using the less powerful version of the V10. Just this year, a superficially similar updated car called the RWD became a full-time member of the R8 range.

Despite the R8 being a bona fide supercar, practicality isn’t a major issue. There’s a decent amount of space for a couple of weekend bags under the bonnet, plus a shelf behind the rear seats. You’ll also find a number of useful cubbies dotted around the cabin. Every R8 features electrically adjustable, heated leather seats, sat-nav, a DAB radio, climate control and LED headlights. However, despite this car costing as much as a modest house when it was new, cruise control and a rear-view camera were paid extras.

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The second generation Audi R8

Audi sends its mid-engined flagship in search of supercar scalps, and largely succeeds - even if rivals like the Porsche 911 Turbo S provide greater driving thrills

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And that brings us to the only fly in the R8’s rather wonderful ointment: the cost. Used prices now start at around £70,000 to £75,000 for an early car, creep up to around £80,000 for a 2018 model and reach £90,000 or more for later examples.

These prices may be relatively low, but you’ll still need a property portfolio or a generous trust fund to have the wherewithal to run an R8. Even if the official fuel economy of 21.6mpg for the standard car or 21.4mpg for the Plus doesn’t frighten you off, the huge cost of insurance and maintenance probably will.

Need to know

R8s built between 1 October 2015 and 30 November 2017 were recalled, because the gearbox could leak oil if you drove hard on track, resulting in smoke from the engine bay and possibly a fire.

Any R8 registered before 1 April 2017 must pay road tax under the old system that was based on CO2 emissions. Later R8s will have to pay the flat rate fee along with the surcharge for cars sold new with a list price of £40,000 or more.

Replacement parts for the R8 will be very expensive indeed, so once you have your heart set on a car, consider getting it professionally inspected to identify any potentially costly repairs.

Our pick

V10: The regular R8 is no slouch and still has 99% of the ability of the more powerful model. Look out for cars with the Driver Assistance pack, because that adds cruise control and a rear-view camera. The sports exhaust is also a worthy option.

Wild card

V10 RWS: The keener driver’s choice, with less weight and greater agility, plus remarkably deft steering and handling. You’ll be lucky to find an RWS, but the RWD should now be trickling on to the used market.

Ones we found

2016 R8 V10, 23,000 miles, £71,995

2017 R8 V10 Plus, 22,000 miles, £81,500

2018 R8 V10 Plus, 5000 miles, £88,950

2018 R8 V10 RWS, 12,000 miles, £78,950

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PHB

7 August 2020
Any need to know R8 article should mention cracked subframes

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