2012 Audi R8 Review and Prices

Last Updated: May 28, 2011

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2012 Audi R8 Buying Advice

The 2012 Audi R8 is the best exotic midengine two-seater for you if you want a sports coupe or roadster that runs with the quickest rides in the world and a Ferrari or Lamborghini is not to your taste – or beyond your budget.

The 2012 Audi R8 is a low-slung midengine two-seater that’s the German automaker’s costliest model. It looks and acts the part of a bona fide European supercar yet remains well mannered enough for an affluent enthusiast’s daily commute. The R8 model line has expanded in recent years and now includes coupe and convertible Spyder models, each available with a 430-horsepower V-8 or a 525-horsepower V-10 engine. An even higher-performance limited-production R8 GT model joins the line for 2012; it has a 560-horsepower version of the V-10. All models come with the added traction of all-wheel drive.

Should you buy a 2012 Audi R8 or wait for the 2013 Audi R8? A convertible R8 GT Spyder is said to be in the works for model-year 2013, as is an all-electric version of the car, to be called the R8 e-tron. Unless you have reason to wait for either potential new model, buy a 2012 R8. It’ll have a surplus of performance no matter which version you choose. You’ll get an extra year’s driving pleasure from the car before a possible model-year 2014 revision. And you’ll skip the inevitable annual price increase, which even at a modest percentage, adds up to real money on a car that sells for $120,000-$170,000. 

2012 Audi R8 Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Audi R8 should continue with the seductively strident styling it’s carried since model-year 2008 introduction. The R8 should continue about as long overall as a Porsche 911 but with a profile several inches lower and a body several inches wider. It’s a futuristic look characterized in front by oversized air inlets below LED reflector beam headlamps and front the side by large “blade” intake scoops at the leading edge of the rear fenders.

A power-extendable rear spoiler provides additional aerodynamic downforce at speeds over 62 mph and affords additional visual drama. And coupe versions have a glass panel behind the cabin reveals the car’s mid-mounted engine, which is illuminated when the doors are unlocked by white LEDs for a theatrical curbside effect.

Audi’s likely to continue to visual distinguish the V-10-powered 2012 A8 coupe and Spyder models with even larger side air intakes, specific rocker panels, a larger rear diffuser and – for bragging rights – "V-10" badges on the front fenders.

The 2012 Audi R8 Spyder should again feature a triple-layer power-retractable cloth top that Audi says can open or close in around 19 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. The top’s rear window can retract even with the roof up for added ventilation.

As with most cars of its ilk, the 2012 Audi R8’s snug two-seat cabin will continue to challenge ingress and egress for the less limber, though the interior is otherwise quite livable. It’ll remain nicely designed and well-finished, with the dashboard and center stack of controls achieving a jet-fighter cockpit look. A dashing red trim line should again accent the instrument cluster and gearshift knob.

Supportive and supple heated sport bucket seats should again come trimmed in either a leather/Alcantara combination or in full leather. As before there should be enough storage space behind the seats to hold the requisite two golf bags. There’s also some token storage up front beneath what would otherwise be the hood. Lucky 2012 R8 buyers probably will still be offered a choice of piano black or carbon fiber interior and exterior trim to personalize their ride, albeit at what can be a stultifying cost.

Mechanical: The hand-built 2012 Audi R8 should continue to ride on a rigid but lightweight all-aluminum spaceframe body and chassis.  It’ll again share some of its engineering DNA with the similarly exotic Lamborghini Gallardo. Like Audi, Lamborghini is a part of the Volkswagen Group.

The 2012 R8 4.2 coupe and Spyder should again pack a high-revving 4.2-liter V-8 engine that employs Audi’s direct-injection technology to generate a tire scorching 420 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, (the former being a measurement of the engine’s maximum power and the latter an indication of its accelerative force). A 2012 R8 4.2 should again do 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and boast an arrest-inducing top speed of 196 mph.

The 2012 R8 5.2 versions will up the ante with a 5.2-liter V-10 powerplant that starts with a ferocious exhaust note and should again produce a heart-pounding 525 horses and 391 pound-feet of torque. R8 5.2s should do 0-60 mph in a sudden 3.7 seconds with a maximum speed of “just” 194.4 mph. Despite the extra two cylinders and more than 100 added horsepower, Audi engineers have managed to keep any weight penalty with the V-10 minimal, and a 2012 R8 5.2 should remain only negligibly heavier than an R8 4.2.

In Audi tradition, all 2012 R8s will again include a sport-tuned version of the company’s acclaimed quattro all-wheel-drive system. Befitting this sports car’s performance mission, Audi tunes the R8’s quattro system for a rear-wheel-drive bias. It shifts power front to rear as necessary to maintain maximum grip on either wet or dry pavement. It can send 65-90 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels with the V-8, and between 70-85 percent with the V-10. Fitted with all-season or winter tires, the R8 can be a year-round sports car. .

The 2012 Audi R8 should again offer a choice of two transmissions, a surprisingly adept and smooth-shifting six-speed manual or Audi’s outstanding “R-tronic” dual-clutch sequential-shift automated manual. The latter affords a choice of fully automatic operation or manual gear changes via steering-wheel-mounted paddles or the console gear selector. It includes a Sport mode to deliver manual shifts in a fraction of a second.

For model-year 2012, the Audi R8 line adds a higher-performance limited-production R8 GT model that employs lightweight carbon-fiber to trim 180 pounds of mass. It gets a tweaked version of the V-10 with 560 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque and uses the R-tronic transmission.

All versions of the 2012 Audi R8 will continue to feature a racing-inspired double-wishbone suspension engineered to handle the sharpest turns with precision and authority. The suspension will again be aided by a magnetic ride system, which does a stellar job of maintaining a reasonably smooth ride. Based on a proprietary damper design licensed from General Motors, the system governs wheel and body motion via “magneto-rheological” fluid in each of the car’s shock absorbers. This fluid is essentially oil infused with tiny metal balls. Its viscosity, and in turn the stiffness of the shock absorbers, is affected by a magnetic current. Cockpit controls allow the driver to direct the system to accentuate ride smoothness or sheer handling performance according to “normal” or “sport” settings. The R8 5.2’s suspension will likely continue to be specifically tuned to handle the V-10’s added horsepower.

Expect 18-inch aluminum wheels and performance tires to remain standard, with 19-inch rims and rubber alternately available. Massive disc brakes with eight-piston calipers at the front and four pistons at the rear should continue to help corral the 2012 Audi R8’s horses swiftly and smoothly. Carbon ceramic brakes should again be optional for greater stopping power and added durability.

Features: Befitting a car priced well into six figures, the 2012 Audi R8 will continue to include a range of luxury and convenience features. These will include automatic air conditioning, power heated seats, a five-channel audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary input for connecting iPods and other devices, and Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone interface.

The 2012 Audi R8 will again offer an assortment of options – though fewer than in many of Audi’s other models. Expected to again be standard on R8 5.2 models and optional on R8 4.2s is a navigation system with Audi’s MMI multimedia control interface, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system and a rear view camera with acoustic proximity warnings to make parking easier and safer.

To customize a 2012 R8, Audi will again make available a long list of extra-cost leather and trim treatments, plus carbon-fiber exterior side-blade panels and interior inlays. Indulge, and such options can boost an R8’s price by as much as $20,000.

2012 Audi R8 Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Audi R8 weren’t released in time for this review, but expect only a nominal boost over model-year 2011 levels. Expect a base-price range of roughly $116,000-$170,000. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Audi’s fee for the 2011 R8 was $1,250.)

Estimated base price for the 2012 Audi R8 coupe 4.2 is $116,000 with the six-speed manual transmission and  $125,000 with the R-tronic automated manual transmission. Estimated base price for the 2012 Audi R8 5.2 coupe is $150,000 with the manual and $159,000 with R-tronic

The 2012 R8 Spyder 4.2 should start around $130,000 with manual transmission, around $139,000 with the R-tronic. Estimated base price for the ’12 R8 5.2 Spyder is $163,000 with the manual and $172,000 with R-tronic.

We estimate the 2012 Audi R8 GT with its higher-output V-10 and R-tronic at a base price of $170,000.

Among options, expect to pay around $2,100 for a convenience package on the 4.2 models that includes a backup camera and front and rear parking sensors, power heated folding side mirrors, hill hold assist for the transmission and assorted storage nets. A navigation system with Audi’s MMI control system should again cost about $2,200 on A8 4.2 models, with the Bang & Olufsen premium audio system adding around $1,800.

2012 Audi R8 Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Audi R8 weren’t issued in time for this review but they should remain equivalent to model-year 2011 ratings. Brace yourself: expect a rating of 11/20 mpg city/highway for the 2012 R8 4.2 coupe or Spyder with manual transmission and 13/21 with the R-tronic automatic.

The 2012 R8 5.2 coupe and Spyder should again 12/19 mpg with the manual and 13/19 with R-tronic. The 2012 Audi R8 GT will likely rate around 12/18 mpg.

The 2012 Audi R8 models should again be subject to a $2,100 federal gas-guzzler tax when fitted with the R-tronic automated manual transmission and a $3,000 tariff with the six-speed manual.

2012 Audi R8 Release Date back to top

The 2012 Audi R8 should be reaching dealer showrooms in September 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Audi R8 back to top

Exotic cars such as the Audi R8 tend to go through longer production cycles than higher volume production cars, which often are redesigned every four years or so. As such, expect the R8 to continue in its current form until at least the 2014 model year, and at that changes could be more evolutionary than revolutionary.

A good bet for the second-generation R8 would be powertrains that are both more powerful and more fuel efficient in the process; a smaller-displacement supercharged V-8 could be in the cards. Also expect some of the high-tech gadgets introduced in the 2012 Audi A6 and A7 sedans to eventually migrate into the R8. These include the Audi Connect telematics system.

In the meantime, a Spyder version of the new-for-2012 R8 GT coupe is anticipated for model-year 2013.

Audi is also reportedly readying an all-electric version of the R8 for the 2013 model year. To be called the R8 e-tron, only about 1,000 will reportedly be built, at a price that will top the R8 line. Reportedly measuring in at around 6.7 inches shorter than the gasoline-powered R8, the e-tron will pack four electric motors and be able to accelerate 0-100 km (62 mph) in an estimated 4.8 seconds.

2012 Audi R8 Competition back to top

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1: With the Dodge Viper taking a hiatus until model-year 2013, the ZR-1 is as close to an exotic sports car as it gets from a domestic automaker. Coming only as a closed-roof coupe, the top-dog Corvette isn’t expected to change much for model-year 2012. It should continue to pack a hand-built 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 with 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque. Expect a heavy-duty six-speed manual to remain the ZR-1’s sole transmission. Chevy says the two-seater does 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds, hits 100 mph in 7.0, and tops out at 205 mph. While that’s undeniably fast, the ZR-1 is almost twice the price of the already-formidable 430-horse base Corvette, which does 0-60 mph in about 4.4 seconds. Still, a ZR-1 represents America on the exotic stage very well for a price of around $112,000 that can seem a bargain against import makes of similar performance.

Jaguar XKR: Porsche’s 911 Turbo is a natural foil for the R8, but it’s due for a model-year 2012 redesign and details were sketchy at the time of this review. So we’ll suggest instead a more civil-looking but still thrilling and less expensive alternative in the form of this seductively sleek coupe and convertible. The XKR is the top of Jaguar’s sportiest XK range should again come powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that generates 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a sequential-shift six-speed automated manual transmission, the V-8 enables the car’s speedometer to hit 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. The XKR also comes with steering, suspension and braking systems upgrades over the standard version to both handle the additional horsepower and to afford improved response for more-enthusiastic drivers. Two occupants are treated to a richly trimmed leather-clad cabin with supportive sport seats and model-specific “weave” patterned aluminum trim, with assorted wood veneers offered as no-cost options; there’s a token back seat, but it’s really a padded cargo shelf. Expect a 2012 Jaguar XKR base-price range of around $98,000-$105,000.

Maserati GranTurismo: Boasting bona fide Italian sports-car heritage, the GranTurismo is available in coupe and convertible models, each wrapped in gorgeous exterior styling drafted in conjunction with the noted Pininfarina design house. Base versions should again feature a Ferrari-designed 4.2-liter V-8 with 405 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque that enables a 5.1-second launch to 60 mph and a top speed of 177 mph. Expect 2012 GranTurismo S versions to continue with a 4.7-liter V-8 that generates 433-horsepower and 361 pound-feet. They’re good for 4.8 seconds 0-60 in coupe form and 5.3 seconds with the somewhat heavier convertible. Also returning for model-year 2012 should be the GranTurismo MC coupe with at least 444 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with selectable operating modes should remain the 2012 GranTurismo’s standard transmission. S models can alternately be equipped with a dual-clutch automated manual. Inside, occupants are coddled with rich Poltrona Frau-upholstered leather seats, and while there’s a back seat, it’s not particularly useful. Expect a 2012 Maserati GranTurismo base-price range of around $124,000-$143,000.

2012 Audi R8 Next Steps