Automotive history

8 Things to Know Now the Audi R8 Era is Over

by Nik Berg
1 April 2024 4 min read
8 Things to Know Now the Audi R8 Era is Over

Audi’s original supercar has reached the end of the road. Despite a flurry of last-minute demand and a stay of execution which saw production continue into 2024, the final R8 has now been assembled.

The very last R8 (above) is a Vegas Yellow Performance Quattro Edition with a carbon fibre exterior package and 20-inch alloy wheels, and you’ll be able to see it in the firm’s museum, displayed just as valuable treasure should be.

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As the R in R8 starts to stand for “relic,” let’s take a look back at this awesome Audi and what makes it a sure-fire classic of the future.

The Concept Car Made Real

Audi Le Mans quattro

When it was first introduced at the Paris Auto Show in September 2006, the R8 was a remarkably faithful production version of the Le Mans quattro show car Audi had revealed three years earlier to celebrate three wins on the trot at the famous French 24 hour race. There were subtle changes to the styling, and, in place of the Le Mans quattro’s twin-turbo V10 engine was a 4.2-litre, 415bhp V8. The all-aluminum spaceframe chassis was retained, but the bodywork was sculpted in aluminium rather than carbon fiber. Aside from being the German marque’s first supercar, the R8 also became the first production car to feature slimline LED headlights. What’s more, it was built by Audi Sport, the firm’s motor racing division, rather than on a main production line.

Audi R8 launch
Lamborghini Gallardo V10 hero

The Le Mans quattro was heavily based on the Lamborghini Gallardo, and so was the production R8. That link became even tighter in 2008 when Audi introduced a 5.2-litre V10—the same motor that powered the Lambo. In V10 form, the R8 featured a revised rear bumper to accommodate twin exhausts (down from the four of the V8), further cooling vents were added, and 19-inch wheels came as standard. Of more importance, though, was the near 100bhp increase in power.

In 2009, Audi removed the roof of the R8 to create the Spyder. Initially only available in V-10 guise, Audi soon added a lighter, keener-priced V8 as well. 2011 saw the introduction of the GT, now offering 550bhp from its ten-cylinder mill, while also cutting weight with lighter seats, thinner windscreen glass and a carbon engine cover.

The R8’s first facelift came in 2012, installing a sharper front end and significantly revised interior. These improvements kept the R8 rolling until 2015 when a true second-generation car was launched. Now sharing its platform with the Lamborghini Huracan, it offered a significant hike in power. In V10 Plus trim, the 610bhp R8 could reach 60mph in just 2.9 seconds and top 200 mph for the first time. Audi made major changes to modernize the decade-old design while still retaining the car’s unique character.

The next, and perhaps most significant update in the R8’s history came when Audi dropped its trademark quattro all-wheel drive system to create the RWS. Powered by a 530bhp version of the V10 and driving the rear wheels only via a seven-speed S-Tronic automatic, it was lighter and more leery than any R8 before. A final facelift came in 2018, with some styling tweaks and even more oomph – up to over 620bhp.

The Silver Screen Star

The R8 is synonymous with Tony Stark thanks to its appearance in no less than six movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Robert Downey Jr. first drove a V8 in Iron Man, then a V10 Spyder in Iron Man 2, a prototype e-tron (see below) in Iron Man 3, a V10 Plus in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, and, appropriately, a Spyder in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The Electric Icon

Audi first teased an all-electric R8 in 2010, but it would take a further five years before the car made it into very limited production. Its stats were impressive, with 340 kw (456bhp) available to dispatch the 0-62 mph sprint in 3.9 seconds and a claimed range of 280 miles on a full charge. However, with a €1 million price tag, only the likes of Tony Stark could afford one, and less than 100 were sold.

The Driver’s Car

The R8 has received high praise in every iteration, not least by Hagerty’s own correspondents.

“This original V8 is just so good. Arguably Audi never improved upon it. Whether V8 or V10 these have always been just fabulous,” says Henry Catchpole after taking the wheel of one of the last R8 GT RWD.“

The R8 is glorious, and when it’s gone, so will be the era of the free-breathing, big-engine exotic. And the world will be a less wild place for it,” adds Aaron Robinson after driving the R8 Performance.

Catchpole reckons the early models featured “the best open-gated manual ever produced.” “It really stole Ferrari’s thunder, it’s just so slick,” he remarks.

Fast Car, Slow Sales

Audi R8 wheel

Despite the plaudits and the performance, the R8 has never really troubled its Italian rivals. In 16 years just 30,000 or so examples found owners. At its best the R8 sold 5,016 units in 2008, and, at its worst in 2022, just 1,068. Compare that to the 3,962 Hurácans sold in 2023 and it’s not so surprising that Audi has thrown in the towel.

The Future Classic

Future classic: Audi R8 4.2 V8

The end of the R8 era could be good news for existing owners, however. We singled the car out in our US 2023 Bull Market, noting, “All generations of enthusiasts appreciate the R8, and interest is growing. Insurance policy growth is more than three times faster than the Hagerty average over the past five years. Lookups on Hagerty Valuation Tools have doubled in the past 12 months, and they lead lookups for the similar Lamborghini Gallardo. R8 values are up 37 per cent since 2019, and with growing demand, further appreciation is likely.”

“With supercar performance paired with the liveability of a daily driver, the Audi R8 might just be the collector car to have if you could only have one. Leave it to the Germans to make the perfect Italian car.”

“I’d anticipate that over time the purity and clarity of the original vision and the sweetness of the driving experience will become ever more highly coveted as we move into an era of electrified and increasingly automated transport,” adds Andrew Frankel.As the R in R8 starts to stand for ‘relic’ let’s take a look back at this awesome Audi and what makes it a sure-fire classic of the future.

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  • Paul says:

    “Audi’s original supercar has reached the end of the road. Despite a flurry of last-minute demand and a stay of execution which saw production continue into 2024, the final R8 has now been assembled.” This is pretty much what happened to the original UR Quattro in the UK. Happy to say I have both – 2008 V8 R-Tronic and URQ20vRR 🙂

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