$69,037 - $83,450

2012 Audi R8 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Audi R8 was new.


Performance: 8.9

If you’re looking for a combination of sports-car fun and everyday drivability, reviewers say you’ll be pleased with the Audi R8. Performance comes in three flavors for 2012, as R8 shoppers can choose between a 430-horsepower V8, a 525-horsepower V10 or the new R8 GT, which features a 560-horsepower V10 as well as a sportier suspension. Only 90 R8 GTs will be imported into the U.S. for 2012.

Even if you can’t afford the top-of-the-line GT or get your hands on one, many test drivers say that the V8-powered R8 is a powerful alternative. Additionally, the R8 4.2 still provides nimble handling thanks to Audi’s adaptive suspension and Quattro all-wheel drive. However, if you’re looking for an automatic, most reviewers warn that the optional R tronic transmission should be avoided. It’s a six-speed automated manual gearbox that they consider clunky and slow to shift.

  • "The exhaust is a little meaner, but the benefits of the additional camber went unnoticed. Extra power is certainly present, but cool temperatures, some slick roads, and all-season tires meant we experienced a loss of traction long before the full 560 hp could be unleashed." -- Automobile Magazine (R8 GT)
  • “The R8 is little noisier overall than some big-power sports sedans, so there's seldom a need to raise voices or turn up the stereo. You wouldn't want to turn up the radio anyway, as both the V8 and V10 are a glorious mix of Formula 1 and NASCAR.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Aided by an all-wheel-drive system and blessed with a lightweight chassis, the R8 is a supercar that doesn't require a superman to be driven heroically." -- Edmunds 
  • "The exhaust, for example, is louder, but not obnoxious, and has no chance of drowning out the Bang & Olufsen stereo." -- Motor Trend (R8 GT)
  • "The all-wheel-drive system is almost completely imperceptible when driving the R8 and the chassis responds very quickly to steering input." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "While taking former classmates for test rides (which is what you do when you have one of these cars), Grace Garces and Wendy Ward both let out squeals that perfectly combined exhilaration and fear - kind of like that moment when we actually graduated high school." --Cars.com 
  • "By making available an R8 with a monster 525-hp V-10 engine-complementing the 420-hp V-8 model that was introduced two years ago-Audi has elevated its exotic-looking two-seater from 'almost-a-supercar' status to a true competitor in the high-performance realm above mere sports cars." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers love the engines available in the 2012 Audi R8, but some dislike the optional R tronic six-speed single-clutch automated manual. Some say this transmission performs well, but for the most part, reviewers find it sluggish. The standard six-speed manual, however, earns praise for its sporty feel and stylish metal shift gate.

The R8 4.2 comes with a 4.2-liter V8 engine that produces 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, while the R8 5.2 packs a 5.2-liter V10 engine that generates 525 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Both the 4.2 and the 5.2 come standard with the six-speed manual transmission. The R8 GT ups performance even further with a 5.2-liter V10 that produces 560 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. The R tronic transmission comes standard on the R8 GT, which is not available with a manual transmission.

Audi reports that the R8 4.2 can reach a top speed of 187 mph and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, while the more powerful R8 5.2 has a top speed of 196 mph and accelerates from zero to 60 in just four seconds. The top-rung R8 GT has a top speed of 199 mph and Audi says that it can accelerate from zero to 62 mph (100 km) in just 3.6 seconds. The 4.2 is a little slow compared to rivals like the Lamborghini Gallardo, which does zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, but it’s also considerably less expensive.

According to the EPA, the base R8 with the manual transmission gets 11/20 mpg city/highway.

  • "Both engines deliver forceful but drama-free takeoffs--aided by Audi's excellent quattro all-wheel drive--plus ample highway passing punch. They will also loaf happily at around-town speeds without frequent shifting." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "We can't recommend the outdated single-clutch R tronic gearbox, as its slow-witted, cranky upshifts make the car sluggish and clumsy when driven around town." -- Edmunds 
  • "In terms of transmission choices, anyone capable of actuating a clutch will find the manual transmission, with its stylish metal gate, a far more satisfying drive than the surprisingly unrefined optional R tronic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book  
  • "While I would prefer the six-speed manual, I found the six-speed R-tronic automated manual gearbox much improved over the version originally in the R8. That transmission tended to lag behind the performance you wanted and make a weird clunking noise when it downshifted as you approached a traffic light. This one provided fast, smooth shifts and not having a heavy clutch was convenient when driving through the thick traffic on Route 18 and I-287." -- Cars.com 

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Audi R8 pleases the automotive press with its sporty and balanced handling, which make the R8 a performance machine that’s comfortable for daily driving. Its adaptive suspension system is aided by Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system, which can distribute more power to the front wheels depending on conditions. This gives the R8 impressive grip when the road gets twisty. GT models get an even stiffer, adjustable suspension which ups the R8’s performance edge.

Most reviewers are also impressed by the R8’s steering and braking capabilities, although one test driver warns that the R8’s large tires and firm suspension mean that the R8 isn’t the most comfortable over road imperfections. Still, many auto writers say that if you’re looking for an exotic sports car that you can drive daily, the R8 is one of the best thanks to its adaptive suspension.

  • "Surprisingly comfortable despite an obviously firm suspension, 19-inch wheels, and wide, low-profile tires. Still, the R8 gets restless on patchy pavement and can jolt over potholes and sharp bumps, though we've endured worse." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "In Edmunds brake testing, multiple R8s have come to a stop from 60 mph in a range between 104 and 108 feet, which is very good." -- Edmunds 
  • "The ride is stiffer, thanks to the GT's coilover suspension, but still smooth and compliant, at least on glassy German pavement." -- Motor Trend (R8 GT)
  • "As we ripped around a left-hand turn, the Spyder stuck to the ground, never bending or pushing out. Between the bubble gum sticky 19-inch wheels and the performance tuned aluminum double wishbone suspension, the car never rolled, slid or moved other than where you wanted to go." -Cars.com 
  • "Unobtanium comes from and whatever it is, this is its ultimate fettling of it. But it isn't a tooth chipper. The Audi's ride is mostly benevolent -- even in sport suspension mode. There's a fair amount of wheel travel so that it's not constantly knocking the stuffing out of you on rough roads." -- Los Angeles Times

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