Back in 2008, when the Audi R8 first came out, I remember one of the crucial selling points was the fact that it wasn’t so expensive. The thing had a V8, it started at something like $110,000, and you could buy an R8 for less money than a 911 Turbo — even though it was this midengine exotic car.
Well, times have changed. The new Audi R8 V10 Plus now has over 600 horsepower, that V8 isn’t even being offered right now, and the sticker price of most R8 V10 Plus models is over $200,000 — basically double what the car’s price was just a decade ago. Double! And this got me thinking: Is the R8 really worth twice what it cost originally? How do they justify charging double what did they did back in 2008?
To find out, I visited my friends at Audi Bridgewater in New Jersey, who also loaned me a Lexus LFA, which is basically the coolest car loan you can give someone. This is a lot cooler than when you borrow a Tacoma from your buddy Jim so you can move. Nonetheless, the R8 V10 Plus was almost as cool, as I quickly discovered after just a few minutes behind the wheel.
I say this primarily for one simple reason: The R8 V10 Plus is monstrously, ridiculously, absurdly, wildly, insanely, massively, incredibly, tremendously fast. And no, this is not an exaggeration. The R8 V10 Plus will do zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds, and if you stick on launch control, and if you actually do zero to go in 2.8 seconds, you’ll feel like you’re in some sort of time-warp machine that’s sending you into a different dimension. I actually felt winded after accelerating that quickly, as if I had just done something.
The speed is truly impressive, and it’s owing to three main factors. One is, of course, the engine; the R8 V10 Plus has 610 hp, which is, ya know, quite a bit; it’s more than the Huracan and just shy of the Ferrari 488 GTB’s 660 horses. More importantly, the R8 V10 Plus has a dual-clutch automatic transmission (so do those cars) and all-wheel drive (the Ferrari doesn’t), which helps it really fly off the line. After doing one single launch control start, I believe the R8 V10 Plus is the fastest car I’ve ever driven. It certainly feels it.
Unfortunately, handling isn’t quite the same as the very top-end rivals. The R8 is just a little lazier to turn; the turn-in is a little less precise than with the Huracan and 488, and it doesn’t feel quite as nimble. Those cars feel like the little alien ships from "Independence Day"; the R8 is just a half-step behind. I also happen to think the Huracan and 488 look a little nicer than the R8 — largely because the R8’s design, while totally new, simply didn’t change as much as it should have from to the outgoing model. The R8, it seems, will never quite look as thrilling as its exotic-branded peers.
But check this out: That $200,000 price tag I alluded to earlier is a bargain compared to the Huracan and the 488. While the 488 "starts" at $250,000, they all go for more than $300,000 — and some top $350,000 with options. The Huracan starts right around $200,000, but most of them sell for $275,000 or more. The R8 is faster and cheaper — and it has better technology, too, thanks to Audi’s amazing "Virtual Cockpit," which is truly among the best modern infotainment systems I’ve ever seen; good enough to give Tesla a run for its money.
In other words, the R8 V10 Plus may not be quite as exotic as those cars, and it may not be quite as nimble. But compared to the Ferrari 488 and the Lamborghini Huracan, it’s a bargain — and it’s faster, with better technology. Most importantly, the R8 V10 Plus is now so amazing and so stupendously fast that it truly belongs in the same sentence as "Ferrari" and "Lamborghini," possibly for the first time ever — and that alone justifies the $200,000-plus price tag. Don’t be fooled: This is no longer a "cool Audi" that’s a more exciting alternative to a Porsche 911 Carrera S. This is now a bona fide supercar. Find a 2017 Audi R8 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.