Ah, the Audi R8; it’s a car that’s placed on countless bedroom posters.
But not all Audi R8s are created equal.
The model has been in production since 2006; its years are starting to count, and so are the number of variants that have been released!
So, today, we will rank every generation of the Audi R8, including the years to avoid and the most reliable options.
If you want to learn more about the Audi R8, read on!
Overview of Audi R8 generations
As mentioned, the Audi R8 has been in production since 2006.
During that time, Audi released two generations of the Audi R8:
- Type 42 (2006-2015)
- Type 4S (2015-present)
Although there are ‘only’ two generations, each has had multiple variants.
Let’s discuss them in the following sections!
First Generation – Type 42 (2006-2015)
The first generation of the Audi R8 is codenamed ‘Type 42’. The production started in June 2006.
The Audi R8 of the first generation shared its chassis and engine with the Lamborghini Gallardo.
As Audi is owned by the Volkswagen Group, which also owns Lamborghini, the components of these cars were shared to save on development costs.
At the time, some of the unique features of the Audi R8 included that the body of the car was made from aluminum and carbon fiber, and it also had full LED headlamps.
In 2012, the Audi R8 received a facelift, with the main changes being:
- A new bumper and Single Frame grille.
- Standard LED headlights on all variants.
- A new, 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission (replacing the R-Tronic automated manual transmission).
Here is an overview of all road models of the Type 42 Audi R8:
- Audi R8 4.2 FSI Coupé quattro (2006-2015). The Audi R8 was initially equipped with a 4.2-liter V8 engine producing 420 horsepower.
- Audi R8 5.2 FSI Coupé quattro (2009-2015). In 2009, Audi unveiled the R8 with a 5.2-liter Lamborghini V10 engine producing 532 horsepower.
- Audi R8 4.2 FSI Spyder quattro (2011-2015). In 2011, The Audi R8 V8 became available as a convertible ‘Spyder’ variant.
- Audi R8 5.2 FSI Spyder quattro (2010-2015). A convertible version of the Audi R8 V10 was released in 2010.
- Audi R8 GT (2011-2013). The Audi R8 GT is a high-performance variant of the R8 V10. It offered a curb weight reduction of 220 lbs and an increased output of 560 horsepower. The production was limited to 333 units worldwide.
- Audi R8 GT Spyder (2011-2013). The convertible version of the R8 GT is limited to 333 units worldwide.
- Audi R8 Competition (2015). A limited-edition Audi R8 that produces 570 horsepower, with only 60 units produced for the US.
Note: If you want to learn about other Audi models equipped with a V8, V10, or even W12 engine, check out this article here!
Let’s move on to the second generation!
Second Generation – Type 4S (2015-Present)
In 2015, Audi delivered a plot twist: the second-generation R8. The V8 engine went out, entirely replaced by the V10.
This new generation Audi R8 has an even more aggressive design and was upgraded with Audi’s latest technology.
In 2018, it received a mid-cycle facelift that increased its performance, added gasoline particulate filters on all models, the choice of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and more.
The Audi R8 Type 4S also shared its platform and engine with a Lamborghini, this time the Lamborghini Huracan.
Here is an overview of all variants of the second-generation Audi R8:
- Audi R8 Coupé (2015-present). The R8 Coupé was available in two variants, the base 5.2 FSI V10 with 540 horsepower and a V10 Plus with 610 horsepower. After the facelift, the power was increased for both variants to 570 and 620 horsepower, respectively.
- Audi R8 Spyder (2016-present). The convertible version of the Audi R8. It is available with the same V10 engines as the R8 Coupé.
- Audi R8 RWD (2019-present). A rear-wheel drive version of the Audi R8 Coupé and Spyder. It is available with the same V10 engines.
With the overview of the Audi R8’s generations and variants out of the way, let’s start with the ranking!
Ranking Audi R8 generations from best to worst
Before we dive headfirst into this ranking, let’s establish some rules.
Of course, we don’t want to compare apples to oranges, so we’ll rank the Audi R8 generations based on the following five factors:
- Performance. After all, the need for speed brought us here, right?
- Reliability. Because nobody wants a sports car that spends more time in the shop than on the open road.
- Design. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but let’s be honest; some R8s are more drool-worthy than others.
- Features. We’ll consider the bells and whistles that make each R8 unique.
- Value for money. Because even in the world of supercars, it’s nice to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
1. The Mighty Manual Marvel: Gen 1 R8 V10 Manual (2009-2012)
In the first place, we have the creme de la creme, the first generation Audi R8 V10 with a 6-speed gated manual transmission!
With its alluring combination of raw power, crisp gear shifts, and a nostalgic nod to the era of manual supercars, this gem steals the top spot on our list.
In a world of automatics, these manual transmission R8s are the holy grail for purists. The gated shifter is like music to their ears, and the thrill of rowing your own gears is simply unmatched.
If you’re lucky enough to spot one in the wild, snap a picture because these cars are rare!
2. The Smooth Operator: Gen 1 R8 V10 (2012-2015)
In second place is the facelifted, first-generation Audi R8 V10, featuring the dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission.
While it may not have the thrill of the gated manual, it offers reliability, smooth gear changes, and a refined driving experience that’ll make you feel like you’re floating on air.
Plus, with the 2014-2015 facelift, it’s like getting an almost-new R8 without the hefty price tag!
3. The New Kid on the Block: Gen 2 R8 V10 (2015-Present)
Next is the second-generation Audi R8 V10, the new and improved successor to the original R8.
With sharper styling, an upgraded interior, and even more power under the hood, this generation brought the R8 into the modern era.
Though it loses some points for ditching the manual transmission, the Gen 2 R8 still delivers a thrilling ride that’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear!
4. The Original Gangster: Gen 1 R8 V8 Manual (2008-2012)
We have the car that started it all in fourth place – the first-generation Audi R8 V8!
While the power of the V8 can feel a bit underwhelming compared to the V10 variants, this Audi R8 sure wins some points with its groundbreaking design, balanced handling, and (of course) that oh-so-satisfying 6-speed gated manual.
5. The ‘Good Enough’ Guy: Gen 1 R8 V10 R-Tronic (2009-2012)
Next up is the first-generation Audi R8 V10 with the R-Tronic transmission.
While it offers a fantastic V10 engine and head-turning looks, the clunky and sometimes unpredictable R-Tronic transmission holds it back from true greatness.
6. The ‘James Bond Wannabe’: Gen 1 R8 Spyder (2010-2015)
Can’t resist a car with a drop-top and the wind in your hair?
If so, the first-generation Audi R8 Spyder, the convertible version of the R8, could be perfect for you.
While it may not have the gadgetry of an actual Bond car, it certainly has the style to make you feel like you’re on a top-secret mission.
7. The ‘Limited Edition Love Affair’: R8 GT and R8 Competition
Looking for something a little more exclusive?
The limited edition R8 GT and R8 Competition models are the answer.
Produced in small numbers and boasting performance enhancements, these collector’s items are perfect for enthusiasts who want to stand out.
Just be prepared to fight off the paparazzi as you cruise through town!
8. The ‘Budget Baller’: Gen 1 R8 V8 R-Tronic (2008-2012)
Finally, for those who want the exotic car experience without breaking the bank, the first-generation Audi R8 V8 with the R-Tronic transmission is the way to go.
While it may not be the most sought-after model, it still offers a taste of the R8 lifestyle without emptying your wallet.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, this R8 might be the way to go!
Audi R8 years to avoid
As we said earlier, no one likes to have a car that spends more time in the shop than on the road.
So, here is an overview of some well-known issues of the Audi R8, including the years that they most frequently occurred:
The ‘R-Tronic Rollercoaster’: 2009-2012 Audi R8
If you’re the type who loves a good thrill ride, this might be the R8 for you.
But if you prefer a smooth ride, avoiding these early R8 models with the clunky R-Tronic transmission is best.
If you think shifting gears shouldn’t feel like a carnival attraction, trust us; your spine will thank you for choosing a different model.
The ‘Crack is Whack’: 2006-2010 Audi R8
No one likes a cracked frame, and these early R8s had a bit of a reputation for it.
Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a common issue, and the failure rate is under 1%. But if you want to be sure to avoid this issue, it’s best to steer clear of these particular years.
Audi got it together in 2011, so focus your search there and beyond.
The ‘Suspension Suspense’: 2006-2011 Audi R8
Another type of problem you may experience with early Audi R8s is related to the magnetic ride suspension.
You may experience leaking struts, a bumpy ride, or an error message on your dashboard related to the suspension system!
Most reliable Audi R8 years
In general, the Audi R8 is a reliable vehicle if it’s maintained according to the service schedule, so don’t worry too much about the ‘common’ issues listed above.
However, if you’re looking for the most reliable Audi R8 years, here are some top choices:
The ‘S-Tronic stability’: 2014-2015 Audi R8 with S-Tronic transmission
If you’re looking for reliability without sacrificing fun, the 2014-2015 R8 with S-Tronic transmission is your best bet.
Being the newest Audi R8 of the first generation, Audi has had the time to fix all the problems that occurred on the first units of the R8, such as those related to a cracked frame or the suspension system.
The ‘2017+ Sweet Spot’: 2019-present Audi R8 V10
If you want to impress your friends with both your engine’s roar and your car’s reliability, the Gen 2 R8 V10 models have you covered.
These R8s are among the most reliable across the entire Audi lineup, offering improved features and fewer known issues.
Reader’s tip: If you want to learn more about the reliability of Audis, check out our in-depth Audi reliability guide here!
FAQs about the Audi R8
If you have any more questions about the Audi R8, take a look at these FAQs:
Which is the top model of the Audi R8?
The top model of the Audi R8 is the Audi R8 V10 Performance quattro, which features a 5.2-liter V10 engine producing 620 horsepower, advanced aerodynamics, and cutting-edge technology like carbon-ceramic brakes.
What is the most expensive Audi R8?
The most expensive Audi R8 was the limited-edition Audi R8 E-Tron. It was introduced in 2015 at the Geneva Motor Show. Fewer than 100 units were sold at roughly $1.1 million each.
Is the Audi R8 a supercar?
The Audi R8 is considered a supercar due to its high-performance capabilities, striking design, and limited practicality. With its powerful V10 engine and impressive handling, the R8 competes with other supercars, such as the Porsche 911 or the Lamborghini Huracan.
And there you have it!
Your complete guide to the best Audi R8 models!
Remember, when it comes to the R8, there’s something for everyone: whether you’re an old-school purist looking for gated manual transmissions, a tech-savvy enthusiast who loves the latest and greatest, or a collector hunting for those rare, limited edition gems.
What is your favorite Audi R8? Let us know in the comments below!
And as always, drive safely and enjoy the journey!