The Audi R8 is a sports car that is manufactured by Audi Sport GmbH; the company used to be named Quattro GmbH. The R8 is designed and built in coupe (2-door) style, and comes the regular coupe or the convertible (aka the Spyder).
It has a mid-engine design, meaning that the motor is positioned near the center of the car (typically behind the passenger seat), and it uses the Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, which is a trademark exclusive to Audi.
The ‘Audi Space Frame is the basis for the basic construction of the R8 model. Built only by Audi Sport GmbH at their factory in Neckarsulm, Germany, the R8 was the first car ever manufactured that featured full-LED headlights.
Originally, the Audi R8 was designed and built for the Le Mans 24-Hours races; those cars were first released in 1999, and they are not what we are referring to here. We are going to be talking about the R8 street model, which was released to the public for sale in 2006 for the 2007 model year, and production on the R8 continues today.
The first generation (Type 42) consisted only of the regular coupe style. It wasn’t until 2008 that the convertible version (Spyder) was released, and in 2011 a GT model R8 came out, which was a high-performance version. In 2012 it underwent a facelift, and Audi added the V10 Plus model to the lineup. The Type 42 generation was officially discontinued in 2015, and the second generation, the Type 4S, was released all-wheel
Now that we’ve briefly summed up the R8’s history, let’s give the line a bit of a judgement call. Below, for your reading pleasure, is a list of the ten best Audi R8 models ever made, listed from number ten (least best) to number one (best of all-time).
This will consist of our top ten R8 picks from its years of production, both first and second generation. So, read on and learn more about…
The 10 Best Audi R8 Models of All-Time
10. 2010 Audi R8 5.2 V10 FSI Quattro Coupe (Type 42)
This was a model with almost no limits. Sporting a 5.2 liter V10 was part of it; the Quattro all-wheel-drive system is another. Handling of the 2010 R8 coupe was precise, and it didn’t exhaust the driver to maneuver it, and its mid-engine placement seems to weight it down rather than making the take-off choppy. One hell of a beautiful piece of machinery, Audi sold 3,485 of this year’s model worldwide, with 799 of them being sold in the US.
9. 2012 Audi R8 Spyder (Convertible,Type 42)
Available with either a V8 or a V10, the Spyder version of the R8 coupe is one sexy beast, boasting 420hp and 525hp respectively. The V10 uses the same engine used in the Lamborghini Gallardo, so it has a lot to live up to. And for those who love the cool feel of driving a manual transmission, the R8 Spyder is available in a six-speed manual.
For both 2012 R8 coupes and convertibles (Spyders) combined, Audi sold 2,241 cars, with 802 of them being snatched up by Americans.
8. 2009 Audi R8 Coupe(Type 42)
A sleek, sexy look wasn’t the only thing this year’s model had going for it. Throw in the 4.2 liter V8, the choice between both manual and automatic 6-speed transmissions, and 420 wild ponies, mix it with that sleek, sexy look, and you have one hot car.
The fact that it only got 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway will likely not bother you one bit. Just like it didn’t bother the 2,101 people in the entire world who bought one, especially the 699 that lived in the United States.
7. 2011 Audi R8 Coupe (Type 42)
While the 2011 R8 Coupe provided drivers with plenty of power (420 to 525 hp and 317 to 391 lb.-ft. of torque, depending on engine size), it is lacking in a few departments. But if you wanted to purchase one of these eight –years ago, or you did, you likely did a ton of research before buying, and new these setbacks before you went to the showroom.
Storage space is lacking, and slightly poor gas mileage (What does one expect from a V8 or V10?). This is also the year the convertible version was released, so people were pretty hot for the R8 at this time. Still going strong, the Audi R8 sold 3,551 units around the world for 2011, and 1145 of those were sold in America.
6. 2012 Audi R8 Coupe(Type 42)
The MSRP in 2012 for the Audi R8 Coupe for that model year was $114,200. Now, if that sounds a bit high, that’s because it is. After all, this was a street model-race car, so to speak, and many even categorized it under the supercar class.
It came with typical choice of V8 (420hp) or V10 (525hp, though it was actually tuned to give 560hp in the GT model, which was used in the Lamborghini Gallardo), and a six-speed manual transmission on the coupe and convertible (as opposed to the automatic option).
While the GT was a limited model, with only 333 of them being made (90 of those came to the States), Audi ended up making 2,241 of these (with the exception of that GT). 802 of them were bought in the good old USA.
5. 2010 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Convertible (Type 42)
The Audi R8 Spyder’s debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009 showed how excited the public was for its arrival. The R8 Coupe was already very popular, and the thought of a convertible that was built off of a race car design was overwhelming. Did we get what we wanted?
In spades, and the 2010 model’s release is the second fine example. In Europe, the starting price for the 5.2 liter V10 was $225,000; in America it was $170,000, fully-loaded. It had 420 hp that it was capable of putting out, and its torque came in at 317 lb.-ft.@ 6.000 rpm. So, how did they sell, you wonder?
Let’s see…a total of 3,485 were sold around the world of both coupes and convertibles together, and only some of those were convertibles (perhaps a third). Sales in the United States for the R8 that year were 799 (both styles), so it is our estimate that around 250 convertible models were sold in the US.
4. 2011 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 V10 FSI Quattro Convertible (Type 42)
All-wheel-drive is something to boast about, especially when there’s a V10 under the hood that puts out 525hp and 391 lb.-ft. of torque (that’s a lot of wind in your hair!) and it handles so well.
The top goes up and down in 19 seconds flat, and it remains fully operational up to 31mph. The gas mileage isn’t the greatest, at 15 mpg combined, but hell, it’s a V10, people. MSRP on the 2011 Spyder was $165K in the US, and more in Europe; Audi had worldwide sales that year of 3,551, and once again, only about a third were the Spyder version of the R8. In the States 1145, or approximately 300 Spyders or less, were sold.
3. 2018 Audi R8 Coupe (Type 4S)
In America, this year’s R8 Coupe started at $138,700, so the price hasn’t jumped up that much in the last seven or eight years. Still a 5.2 liter V10, this car got 14 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, according to Audi, so it’s a little better than in years gone by. It measured 532 to 610 hp, so what it sucked in gas it made up for in power.
While worldwide unit sales numbers for 2018 are vague, if not absent, we can give an average of sales from years gone by, so an approximate 3,000, while the numbers for the R8 coupe in America that year stood at about 927…both numbers were down for the coupe model as a whole, but this was one beautiful mean machine.
2. 2015 Audi R8 Coupe (Type4S)
With numbers three and two being the only second generation, or Phase II, R8 models on our list, you would think that Audi was digressing rather than moving forward, but we all know that isn’t true. It’s just that sometimes older is better, but not always.
Anyway, the 2015 R8 was pretty run of the mill for this model, with the exception of the fact that this was the introductory year for the second R8 generation (the Type 4S). Differences included the Generation I facelift, S-tronic gearbox, Generation 1 also featured a six –speed while the new V10s are mostly running automatic, and owners like the manual better.
The newer ones have more power and are much easier and more comfortable to handle, and overall, most owners and those who have test driven both will agree that generation two, or Phase II, is significantly better due to advanced technology. Sales for the first year Phase II R8 models around the world was around 3,200, with a US sales total of 495 (down about 300 units from the previous year).
And finally, the number one Audi R8 model of all-time is….
1. 2006 Audi R8 Coupe(Type 42)
“The original is still the best,” says Jalopnik.com. They are calling it like they see it, and most fans of the R8 will be on the same page. The original 2006 R8 coupe, in all of its shiny-faced generation one glory had something about it that simply defied explanation. Maybe it was the sleek, sporty body; perhaps it was the way the car was fast and comfortable at the same time.
Or, it simply may have been the fact that you were driving one of the most anticipated and hottest cars on the market (or the way the women flocked around you) that gives you the opinion that the ’06 is the best of the best.
Regardless of the reason, the sheer sentimentality alone hands the number one spot to the 2006 R8 on a golden platter. For the 2006 model year Audi sold only 164 units worldwide, but as you know, they weren’t yet selling them here in the States yet. Sometimes missing out just sucks…
The very best Audi R8 models in existence. Right up there…right at your fingertips. It’s true that the blasé and unfamiliar car-wise will see a list of ten cars that are, for all intents and purposes, pretty much the same. But WE know better.
WE know that the R8 evolved beautifully over the last thirteen years, with subtle changes and mechanical differences that only a sports car lover, and especially an R8 lover, could appreciate.
So,if you have owned one before and are ready to upgrade, this is your writing on the proverbial wall (or screen, if you like). If you’ve never driven one before, well, we feel sorry for you. Don’t you think it’s time to make it happen:?
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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