In its last year before a full redesign, the 2015 Audi R8 continues to offer a level of performance and luxury that few sports cars can match.
The R8 has stood at the top of Audi’s performance line since the 2008 model year. Now in its last year before a full redesign, the 2015 Audi R8 continues to represent a performance benchmark within the luxury sports car segment.
The 2015 Audi R8 is available in V8, V10 and V10 Plus trims. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a seven-speed automated manual transmission is optional. All R8 models come standard with rear-wheel drive. There are a few small updates for 2015, including the addition of standard heated, power-folding side mirrors. V10 and V10 Plus coupes also gain a standard Alcantara headliner and a Sport exhaust system is now available on V10 models with the optional automated manual transmission.
With its low profile and wide stance, the Audi R8 is instantly recognizable as a sports car with serious performance credentials. The R8’s mid-mounted engine is on full display, encased in glass and sitting behind the passenger compartment. LED lights illuminate the engine bay at night when the key fob is used, turning the engine bay into a trophy case for the V8 (or V10) engine.
On the sides, large air intakes sit directly behind the doors, while LED headlights and taillights sit at the R8’s four corners.
Our R8 V10 Plus includes exterior equipment that helps contribute to a weight savings of 130 pounds over the standard V10 model. These changes include carbon sigma side blades, as well as a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser and spoiler.
Slip behind the wheel of the 2015 Audi R8 and you’ll find yourself surrounded by an interior that’s entirely worthy of the vehicle’s price. The R8’s low stance means that ingress and egress can be a little challenging, but once inside you’ll find exceptionally comfortable and supportive front seats, along with plenty of head- and legroom.
Interior materials are of very high quality, with extensive use of soft touch surfaces, carbon fiber and aluminum trim and leather upholstery.
Heated seats are standard, and our test R8 featured a leather package that adds Nappa leather upholstery with attractive diamond stitching on the door panels and seats. You’ll find it if you look up too, as Audi applied the same treatment to the Alcantara headliner.
Perhaps the only downside is the R8’s limited cargo capacity, which isn’t really a detriment within this class. There’s a small trunk up front that might be able to accommodate a carry-on bag, but you’ll be packing light on overnight trips – especially if you’ve got a passenger along for the ride.
The 2015 Audi R8 comes with two engine choices. A 4.2-liter V8 engine that produces 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque comes with the V8 model. All-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard, while Audi’s ‘S tronic’ seven-speed automated manual transmission is available.
V10 models come with a 5.2-liter V10 engine, though output that varies a bit depending on the trim level. The standard R8 V10 produces 525 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque, while the R8 V10 Plus offers 550 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.
When equipped with the S tronic transmission, Audi reports that the R8 V10 Plus can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.
The EPA reports that the R8 gets its best fuel economy estimates with the V8 engine and the S tronic transmission, earning 14/23 mpg city/highway. Our test V10 Plus model with the automated manual gets estimates that are just slightly lower at 13/22 mpg.
There’s something special about having a 550-horsepower V10 mounted directly behind the driver’s seat. Our test Audi R8 offers truly thrilling acceleration, and the power comes on immediately with aggressive throttle inputs. Putting the R8 in Sport mode results in even quicker throttle response, and the engine revs on downshifts to ensure that the R8 is always alert and responsive when it’s time to accelerate out of a corner.
Handling is another strong suit for the R8, and it is a very easy car to drive. It’s exceptionally nimble through turns and the Quattro all-wheel drive system offers a seemingly limitless amount of grip. The steering is something special, too. It’s exceptionally quick, well weighted and direct. The R8 also stops with authority, as excellent brake pedal feel and large ventilated disc brakes allow you to scrub off speed quickly. All told, these attributes result in an extremely confidence-inspiring driving experience.
While the R8’s performance attributes are well documented, what may surprise you is just how easy it is to live with on a daily basis. Smart throttle tuning ensures that the R8 is not punishing to drive in stop-and-go traffic, and the S tronic transmission is smooth and refined under normal operation. The R8 is a comfortable and fairly quiet daily driver too. You might not be taking any extended trips with its limited cargo space, but the R8’s composed ride would make it a welcome road trip car.
This is where things fall apart a little bit for the R8, though admittedly you buy this car for the driving experience, not because you expect features like smartphone app integration.
The 2015 R8 comes standard with a few standard features that befit a luxury sports car, including Bluetooth phone connectivity, satellite radio, a seven-speaker audio system and Audi’s MMI interface with navigation and a 6.5-inch display. Still, a number of increasingly common features are missing in action, such as Bluetooth audio streaming, keyless access and adaptive cruise control.
Our test R8 included optional features like an iPod adapter ($100) that replaces the standard six-disc CD changer and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system ($1,800).
The 2015 Audi R8 has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Standard safety equipment includes six air bags (including driver and passenger knee air bags) and electronic stability control. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are standard on V10 models and optional on the V8 trim. Driver assistance features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring are not available on the 2015 R8.
The R8 starts at $115,900 for the V8 model with a six-speed manual transmission. The V10 model starts at $153,900 and the top R8 V10 Plus has a base price of $173,500. Our test R8 V10 Plus included optional equipment that brought the total price to $195,850 (after a $1,700 gas guzzler tax and a $1,250 destination charge).
Opting for a V10 model adds significantly to the R8’s performance credentials in terms of straight-line acceleration, and it’s priced similarly to competitors like the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Still, the V8 version’s lower price may make it a more appealing option since it offers so many of the V10’s attributes. In this regard, the R8 V8 stacks up favorably against competitors like the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Slightly less expensive competitors like the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R and Nissan GT-R are also worth your consideration.
While a new R8 is on the horizon for 2017, the current model continues to offer a lot to sports car buyers within the luxury segment. Its sporting pretenses are apparent on first glance, but the 2015 R8 also delivers impressive build quality, a lavish interior and one of the best driving experiences in the business. If you’re looking for a high-end sports car that doesn’t require any compromises for use during the daily grind, the R8 continues to be worth serious consideration.