2014 Audi R8

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2014 Audi R8 V10: First drive review

By James Tate of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.0

Bottom Line:

Most of the time, updates to an existing car for a new model year are an exercise in creative ad copy more than anything else. Not this time: The 2014 R8 V10 not only looks better, it drives better and even sounds better (from the inside, at least). It’s still prohibitively expensive for most of the known world, but still worth every penny, too.
Pros:
  • Seemingly limitless power on tap
  • New S Tronic transmission is very good
  • Engine noise from cockpit is perfect
Cons:
  • The lights are better, but does it look better?
  • Exhaust note feels a little restrained
  • Navigation system works, but shows its age

The Audi R8 is no longer the upstart supercar it was a few scant years ago, punching up at the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the world. It is now a fully established halo car, desired by car nuts all over the world, and displayed by younger gearheads as wallpaper on laptops and smartphones (and as wall posters, if posters are even a thing anymore). We hit the autobahn in a 2014 R8 V10 Plus to see if the tweaks to this refreshed model made any significant difference. Spoiler alert: The R8 is better than ever.

Model lineup
The 2014 R8 is available as a coupe or in the convertible "spyder" trim. Both coupe and spyder are powered by either V8 or V10 engines. The new top-of-the-line R8 V10 Plus gets a horsepower bump and is billed as the fastest R8 yet. Pricing information has not been released for the 2014 Audi R8.

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Under the hood
The 2014 R8 has two engine options: Audi's 4.4-liter V8 that puts out 430 horsepower with 317 lb-ft of torque produced between 4500 and 6000 rpm, or the mighty 5.2-liter V10 with its 525 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm. The new 2014 R8 V10 Plus "adds lightness" with carbon-fiber panels, unique wheels, ceramic brakes, a conventional suspension (instead of the magnetic damping setup on the other R8s), and other weight-saving measures that add up to a loss of just over 100 pounds. Some aerodynamic pieces enter the mix, too, but let's just be honest — the real story is that the V10 Plus is good for 550 horsepower, 398 lb-ft of torque, a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 196 mph when equipped with the new 7-speed S-Tronic transmission. As always, all 2014 R8 iterations are all-wheel drive.

View Slideshow:  Top convertibles for 2013

Inner space
The cockpit of the 2014 R8 V10 Plus we drove shows that the R8's interior concept remains solid despite its years, though some elements are starting to show a little age; specifically, the multimedia interface, which seemed to lag a little when prompted, and the display in the gauge cluster that now feels flat-out old. Gripes aside, the navigation system still had no difficulty getting us where we needed to go. One disappointment with the 2014 R8 V10 Plus is that the sport bucket seats in the Euro-spec model we tried won't make it to the U.S. version; they offer a great combination of support and comfort. The suede-wrapped steering wheel is wonderfully decadent, but we don't see it holding up over long-term use. Noise reduction in the cabin is outstanding, and so is the roar of the 550-horsepower V10 engine from the inside. The words "unholy racket" come to mind.

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BB03 - 4/20/2014 5:06:25 PM