2021 Audi R8

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
February 28, 2021

Buying tip

The new R8 RWD models cut about a quarter off the price of entry for Audi’s beautiful supercar.

features & specs

V10 RWD
V10 performance quattro
V10 RWD
MPG
14 city / 23 hwy
MPG
13 city / 20 hwy
MPG
Coming Soon
MSRP
$142,700
MSRP
$196,700
MSRP
$154,900

The 2021 Audi R8 is an approachable supercar with a dash of elegance to go with its sonorous V-10 engine.

What kind of car is the 2021 Audi R8? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Audi R8 is a V-10-powered mid-engine supercar related to the Lamborghini Huracán. Offered as a coupe or roadster, it’s a visual stunner with thrilling acceleration and track-ready handling. Rivals include the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan GT-R, and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT.

Is the 2021 Audi R8 a good car?

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It’s a fantastic car that’s loads of fun for the privileged few. It’s a conservative but elegant take on the supercar, and it comes at a discount versus most other mid-engine rivals. Fast, beautiful, and agile, we rate it a 5.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Audi R8?

Audi revives the rear-wheel-drive R8 for 2021, appropriately tagging it the R8 RWD. It’s available for both the coupe and roadster body styles, and it slots in as the base model with the less powerful 532-hp engine. The former 562-hp R8 V10 base models have been discontinued.

The R8’s design is highlighted by black side blades that work as air intakes. Audi’s trapezoidal grille works well with the wide, low-slung stance to create a techy, though restrained look. The roadster features a power soft top. Inside, the R8 is sporty, elegantly appointed, and driver-focused. It seats two in comfort, but has little room for their stuff. 

The R8’s aluminum and carbon-fiber construction teams with its layout to provide great weight balance that sends the power to the tarmac efficiently, especially with all-wheel drive. It darts into and out of corners and grips tenaciously on the road or track, but it rides well enough to drive on a regular basis. 

Nestled in that advanced platform is a 5.2-liter V-10 mated to a quick-acting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle. The R8 V10 Performance model increases output to 602 hp and enables a 3.3-second 0-60 mph time. It’s a type of engine we won’t see much longer, with a throaty sound, a progressive throttle, and thrilling acceleration.

How much does the 2021 Audi R8 cost?

The R8 starts at $151,595 for the coupe and $156,395 for the roadster. It comes standard with heated power-adjustable seats, extended leather upholstery, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and magnetic dampers.

Unfortunately, Audi skimps on safety, a sign of the car’s aging platform. The R8 comes only with front and rear parking sensors. Automatic emergency braking, which we deem essential, isn’t offered.

Where is the Audi R8 made?

Audi builds the R8 in Germany.

9

2021 Audi R8

Styling

The 2021 Audi R8 is a visual stunner that shows us why we love supercars.

Is the Audi R8 a good-looking car?

It’s gorgeous.

The 2021 Audi R8’s classic mid-engine styling cues are enhanced by Audi’s design flair. Low and wide, it’s both menacing and pretty on the outside, and sporty and luxurious on the inside. We rate the R8 a 9 here.

The R8’s cabin sits forward and the short hood falls away quickly to create excellent forward vision. The coupe’s roof stretches back to the blunt rear end, while the roadster’s rear deck rises in a gentle curve from the rear to the passenger compartment. Audi offers only a black cloth top.

On both body styles, the signature design elements are the blade-style side intakes. Finished in black, they funnel air to the engine and rear brakes. 

The honeycomb trapezoidal grille is designed to bring in air and accentuate the low, wide stance. The rear features a prominent diffuser, a honeycomb grille, and either a kick-up spoiler or a fixed spoiler, both in carbon fiber. Audi offers a variety of leather colors to provide a sportier, bolder look.

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9

2021 Audi R8

Performance

The 2021 Audi R8 thrills with its acceleration, balance, feel, and sound.

Thrilling power, agile and balanced handling, and communicative steering team up in the 2021 Audi R8 to earn a 9 for performance.

Is the Audi R8 AWD?

The R8 comes with rear- or all-wheel drive.

How fast is the Audi R8?

Audi sells the R8 in two flavors: fast or faster. Its 5.2-liter V-10 conjures 532 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque in base form and 602 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque in V10 Performance models. The V-10 sings a wicked but melodious tune and its power comes on quickly, but it’s not too high-strung to drive in traffic. It’s mated to a slick, quick-acting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that keeps the right gear for the street or the track depending on drive mode. The R8 hooks up and rockets forward, with the 0-60 mph run flying by in 3.6 seconds in the base model and 3.3 seconds in the V10 Performance, which can reach a top speed of 204 mph. 

Configured in a well-balanced mid-engine layout, the R8 feels stable and planted. It scrapes the ground, so body lean is minimal, and the quick steering sends the car responsively into and out of corners. All models have track capability.

The base model has the better ride quality thanks to standard magnetic dampers that vary between street soft and track firm. The V10 Performance sport suspension is firm but not jarring.

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3

2021 Audi R8

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Audi R8 is pretty inside, but also tiny.

The R8 aims to please the driver, with comfortable sport seats, high-quality materials, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that doubles as the infotainment display. It has no back seat and little cargo room, though. Its gains are more than offset by its losses for utility, so we rate it a 3 for comfort and quality.

Both passengers have plenty of space, and the R8’s cabin is well built with beautiful leather, carbon-fiber, and aluminum trim. However, it can only seat two, and cargo room is light at just 4.0 cubic feet. This isn’t a continental tourer. It’s a super sports car with enough space for a gym bag or two.

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2021 Audi R8

Safety

The R8 hasn’t been crash-tested and doesn’t offer modern safety features.

How safe is the Audi R8?

We’d shed a tear to see an R8 crash-tested, but too few are sold to warrant crash tests. We don’t give it a safety rating without those tests. The R8 also lacks today’s active safety features. 

The only standard safety equipment of note on the 2021 Audi R8 is front and rear parking sensors. Automatic emergency braking, a must-have in our book, is not offered.

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5

2021 Audi R8

Features

The Audi R8 comes loaded with performance and comfort features at a loaded price.

All R8s are well equipped, which they should be for the price. We rate the R8 a 5 for features, adding a point for the standard equipment but talking one away for value because of the price.

Audi sells the R8 in rear-drive V10 RWD and all-wheel drive V10 Performance models in both coupe and roadster body styles. 

The R8 V10 RWD coupe starts at $151,595 with the mandatory Premium Plus package. The roadster costs $156,395. Standard equipment on both includes a digital instrument cluster, navigation, extended leather upholstery, heated 18-way power-adjustable seats, an alcantara headliner (coupe only), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, magnetic dampers, and 20-inch alloy wheels with summer tires.

Which Audi R8 should I buy?

Is 70 horsepower worth almost $50,000? We don’t think so. Stick with a new RWD model.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Audi R8?

The R8 V10 Performance coupe costs $198,195 and the roadster runs $209,595. They not only get the 602-hp engine, but also all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, larger carbon-ceramic brakes, a sport exhaust, a carbon-fiber fixed rear spoiler, and racing shell seats.

The R8 carries a decent warranty of 4-years/50,000 miles for the whole vehicle, including the powertrain.

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3

2021 Audi R8

Fuel Economy

A V-10-powered supercar, the 2021 Audi R8 doesn’t make fuel economy a priority.

Is the Audi R8 good on gas?

No, it’s not. The R8’s V-10 drinks fuel. We rate it a 3 for fuel economy based on its EPA ratings on 14 mpg city, 23 highway, 17 combined with rear-wheel drive. Add all-wheel drive and the ratings drop to 13/20/16 mpg. 

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$142,700
MSRP based on V10 RWD
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5.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 3
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 3
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