Audi R8 Coupe 1st Generation 2008-2015 Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used R8 Coupe 1st Gen

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1st Gen Audi R8: What Owners Say

  • Owners love the R8's combination of supple ride quality and superb handling balance.
  • Still looks sensational after all these years.
  • The V10 versions offer true supercar performance, so those are the buyers' favorites.
  • The R8's prodigious fuel thirst scares off some prospective buyers.
  • While the cabin is spacious enough, there's almost no usable cargo room.
  • Old-fashioned infotainment and climate-control interfaces don't do the high-tech beast underneath justice.

First Gen R8 Facelift

The first-generation Audi R8 received regular but incremental updates during its first five years on the market, which resulted in an expanded model range with only minor cosmetic changes to help identify the different variants. The R8 took a year's leave of absence from the North American market for 2013, before returning for 2014 and 2015 with some more extensive styling updates and a vastly improved automatic transmission option.

2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Front Changes CarBuzz
2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Front Changes

The only surefire way of telling a pre-facelift first-generation Audi R8 apart from its facelifted counterpart is by checking out the shape of the radiator grille and headlights. Do not be deceived by the various grille designs offered for this model, as these items featured different detailing before and after the facelift, dependent on the engine and/or trim level.

Instead, look at the shape of the grille: Pre-facelift grilles have a trapezoidal outline, while the facelifted grille's two top corners have been cut away to give it a hexagonal shape1. The lower front side air intakes didn't change much in size during the facelift, but the newer model's lower inner corners are chamfered upwards, in a similar fashion to the newer grille's top corners, and feature two high-gloss slats instead of three matte ones2.

The headlights provide another indication of an Audi R8's vintage, because the facelifted model's headlight clusters are squared-off, while the pre-facelift R8 featured a much more curvaceous light-cluster outline. The daylight running lights (DRL) signature mirrors this, with a more pronounced, straight-lined solid LED DRL arrangement, rather than the curving dot-matrix-type DRL signature of the older car. Also note that full-LED lights became standard on all models with the facelift, while pre-facelift V8 models featured bi-xenon headlamps and only the V10 variants featured full-LED headlights3.

The bumper itself is also squared-off on the facelifted first-generation Audi R8, with a simpler surface treatment around the front wheel arches and softer creases over the front wheels4. Closer inspection will also reveal a slightly flatter hood and a smoother transition into the unchanged, straight-edged lower window line5.

2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Rear Changes CarBuzz
2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Rear Changes

The changes applied to the rear end of the first-generation Audi R8's facelift for 2014 are also easy to spot, with clear differences between their rear bumpers1, exhaust arrangements2, taillights3, and rear vents4.

Starting from the top, there are new LED tail lights with a strong horizontal design emphasis and DRLs which frame the entire light cluster, with Audi's neat sequential LED indicator lights underlining them - the pre-facelift model also featured LED lights, but with two rectangular DRL elements in each. The backup lights also moved from the outside edges of the older car's light clusters to the middle of the lights' red section3.

Below the taillights, the rear air vents changed from a four-slat design to three slats during the facelift. This only applies to the base R8 V8, however, as the R8 V10 launched with two-slat rear vents in 2010, before standardizing on three slats on all models with the facelift, framing a more-pronounced diffuser underneath4.

2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Side Changes CarBuzz
2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Side Changes

While the Audi R8's profile view didn't change all that much during the facelift, the headlights1 and front fenders2 are the main means of telling the pre-facelift one apart from the facelifted car. The flatter hood line likewise gives the game away, and the side skirts3 have a lower, curved surface treatment instead of the pre-facelift model's smoother detailing.

As before, the Audi Side Blades behind the doors on coupe models can be had in body color, silver, or black, depending on the first owner's selection.

2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Interior Changes CarBuzz
2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Interior Changes

The interior's design remained unchanged with the facelift, but sharp-eyed onlookers will notice that the facelift model's gauge clusters now have a dark background instead of the earlier model's light-gray instruments1. On models equipped with the optional navigation system, the facelift R8 also gained a larger, higher-resolution infotainment display screen, but the dash-mounted MMI controller unfortunately remains unchanged2.

And, where the pre-facelift R8 had smooth leather covering the steering wheel rim, the facelift R8 has two perforated sections on the sides of the steering wheel, and gains R8 badging in the gloss-finish lower steering wheel spoke. The steering wheel also gained a wider rim in the process3.

Lastly, new gloss-black and aluminum trim inserts add some glitz to the redesigned Audi R8's cabin4.

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

Initially launching in 2008 with only the V8 engine, the 1st-gen R8 range soon grew to include a V10 in various states of tune, turning it into a real supercar challenger in the process. Roadgoing R8s are equipped with rearward torque-biased quattro AWD, giving the R8 the agile handling one would expect from a proper sports car.

Initially, two transmission options were available for both engines: A traditional six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed single-clutch automated manual. Between these two, the manual is infinitely more desirable, thanks to its quick, slick, and secure shift quality. In contrast, the automated manual (dubbed R-Tronic in Audi-speak) is jerky on upshifts, and not even its cheeky throttle blip on downshifts can compensate for the generally lumpy behavior everywhere else.

The R-Tronic was shown the door during the 2014 facelift, and replaced by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (named S-Tronic) to give quicker gear changes under duress, and much smoother operation in normal driving. Both automatics have shift paddles behind the steering wheel, but those are only really pleasant to use with the S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission.

4.2L V8 Gas DOHC BYH (2008-2015)
414/428 hp | 317 lb-ft
414/428 hp
317 lb-ft
Six-speed manual, six-speed automated manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

If this engine's specifications appear familiar, that's because this V8 is very closely related to the unit in the contemporary RS4. The main difference is that the lubrication system is changed to a dry-sump setup, to allow for the higher sustained lateral G forces of which a sports car is capable, especially on a race track.

Apart from the dry-sump oil system, the other technical highlights of this engine includes all-aluminum construction with a reinforced block, crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons, a 12.5:1 compression ratio, a rev limiter set at 8,250 rpm, four chain-driven overhead camshafts with stepless variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust cams, and direct fuel injection.

The only power increase for this engine was with the introduction of the R8 V8 Spyder, when both the coupe and convertible received a 14-hp bump in output in 2011, even though its torque output remained unchanged. In contrast to most of the lesser V8s in other Audis of its era, the Audi R8 4.2 engine doesn't have any egregious design flaws, and is considered very reliable, especially for such a highly strung sports-car engine.

5.2L V10 Gas DOHC BUJ (2010-2015)
525/550/570 hp | 391/398 lb-ft
525/550/570 hp
391/398 lb-ft
Six-speed manual, six-speed automated manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

If the 4.2-liter V8's punch is a bit too lightweight for your liking, the 5.2-liter V10 should satisfy your craving for more power. Added to the North American Audi R8 lineup for 2010, the 5.2 V10 FSI engine is derived from the Lamborghini Huracan's power unit. In this case, "derived" means "slightly detuned to avoid stepping on Lamborghini's toes", so it loses a bit of power in comparison to the Huracan, but not much. At the Audi R8 V10's lowest output level, there's 525 hp and 391 lb-ft on tap, making a basic R8 V10 capable of 62 mph in as little as 3.6 seconds, when equipped with the S-Tronic transmission. That's very rapid, and it makes a glorious noise on the final stretch to its 8,000 rpm power peak.

There were three available output levels from the 5.2 V10, with the 525-hp engine supplemented in the mainstream range by the V10 Plus, which gets a specialized and lightened version of the 5.2-liter producing 550 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. Both of these V10 models are available with either the six-speed manual gearbox, or whichever self-shifting transmission was available at the time of purchase.

Outputs reached their peak in 2015, when the extremely limited-edition R8 Competition arrived with 570 hp and an ability to scream to 8,800 rpm. The R8 Competition could only be had with the seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and slashed the 0-62 mph sprint to only 3.2 seconds.

Technical highlights of the 5.2-liter V10 as used in the R8 includes all-aluminum construction with dual chain-driven overhead cams per bank, four valves per cylinder with stepless variable valve timing for the intake and exhaust cams, dual-stage intake manifolds, and direct fuel injection. Do not confuse the Audi R8's 5.2-liter V10 with the 5.2 V10 FSI as used in the Audi S6 and S8 of its era. While their basic designs are similar, the sports version used in the R8 and Gallardo has a stronger forged crankshaft, uprated connecting rods, and different firing order, and is profiled towards top-end performance, rather than smoothness or ultimate refinement.

2008-2015 First Generation Audi R8 Real MPG

To provide a means of comparison between a car's official fuel-consumption figures and what drivers could expect in real-world driving, owners are encouraged to submit their measured fuel-consumption figures to the EPA. However, seeing as the Audi R8 is an enthusiast's car, it's perhaps understandable that few owners care about such matters, so there are no real-world figures to evaluate for the 1st-generation Audi R8.

There are some interesting points to note about the Audi R8's official consumption claims. Early models with the six-speed automated manual (R-Tronic) transmission are clearly thirstier than later examples with the seven-speed dual-clutch (S-Tronic) gearbox, but manual-transmission variants also tend to drink more heavily than their S-Tronic-equipped counterparts. Strangely, the Audi R8 4.2 V8 also appears to be less economical than an equivalent R8 V10 with the same transmission.

EPA mpg (city/highway/combined)Real-world combined mpg*
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed manual AWD (2008)13/20/15N/A
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed automated manual AWD (2008)13/19/15N/A
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed manual AWD (2009-2010)12/19/15N/A
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed automated manual AWD (2009-2010)13/18/15N/A
5.2 V10 coupe six-speed manual AWD (2010)12/20/15N/A
5.2 V10 coupe six-speed automated manual AWD (2010)13/20/16N/A
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed manual AWD (2011-2015)11/20/14N/A
4.2 V8 coupe six-speed automated manual AWD (2010-12)13/21/16N/A
5.2 V10 coupe six-speed manual AWD (2011-2015)12/19/14N/A
5.2 V10 coupe six-speed automated manual AWD (2011-2012)13/19/15N/A
4.2 V8 Spyder six-speed manual AWD (2011-2015)11/20/14N/A
4.2 V8 Spyder six-speed automated manual AWD (2010-2012)13/21/16N/A
5.2 V10 Spyder six-speed manual AWD (2011-2015)12/19/14N/A
5.2 V10 Spyder six-speed automated manual AWD (2011-2012)13/19/15N/A
4.2 V8 coupe seven-speed DCT AWD (2014-2015)14/23/17N/A
5.2 V10 coupe seven-speed DCT AWD (2014-2015)13/22/16N/A
4.2 V8 Spyder seven-speed DCT AWD (2014-2015)14/23/17N/A
5.2 V10 Spyder seven-speed DCT AWD (2014-2015)13/22/16N/A

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.


Even at its basic V8-engined level, the first gen R8 is a pretty rapid car, so it's reassuring to know that it is also loaded with a host of safety features. Standard safety features from launch include six airbags (two frontal airbags, two side-impact airbags with head-protection chambers, and two knee airbags), a self-dimming rearview mirror, seatbelt pretensioners, stability and traction control, four-wheel ventilated and perforated disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, and post-collision braking, automatic self-leveling bi-xenon headlights with high-pressure washers, LED daytime running lights (DRLs) front and rear, LED taillight clusters, and a child-seat anchor in the passenger seat.

The headlights were upgraded to full-LED specification across the board in 2014, but this feature was fitted to all V10 models since 2010, and became optional on the V8 in 2014. The Audi R8's safety specifications remained otherwise unchanged over its lifespan, possibly because there wasn't anything left for the engineers to add. A rearview camera and parking sensors front and rear were standard on the V10, but optional on the V8 all through its run.

No Audi R8 has yet been hurled at an obstacle to evaluate its crash safety, because it's an expensive and specialized vehicle. However, due to its rigid aluminum-and-carbon-fiber passenger cell construction and large frontal crumple zone, occupant protection should be very good.

1st Generation Audi R8 Trims

Audi never sold the first-generation R8 in different trim levels, instead differentiating the R8 models by their power units. At first, there was only the R8 V8 quattro, joined two years later by the R8 V10 quattro, and soon followed by the V10 Plus quattro. In each case, more goodies were added on top of the base R8 V8's standard features list, although many of those additions eventually trickled down to the base model as well.

V8 4.2 FSI quattro
2008-2012, 2014-2015
4.2-liter naturally aspirated V8
Six-speed manual, six-speed automated manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

Arriving fully done and well-equipped from the outset, the V8-engined R8 has a long list of standard features - as is to be expected, considering its steep base price. Equipment included power windows with one-touch up and down, remote-controlled power door locks, heated power-adjusted exterior mirrors, a self-dimming interior rear-view mirror, manual tilting-and-telescoping steering-column adjustment, a leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel with audio controls, power adjustment for the heated leather-and-suede front seats, cruise control, electrically assisted power steering, variable-stiffness magnetic dampers, self-leveling automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED DRLs at both ends, a seven-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with 140-watt output, a memory-card slot, Bluetooth connectivity, single-zone electronic climate control, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

5.2 V10 quattro
2010-2012, 2014-2015
5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10
Six-speed manual, six-speed automated manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

On top of the already crammed list of standard features in the R8 V8, the V10 added yet more equipment. Full-LED headlights were fitted from launch, the cabin trim was upgraded to soft Nappa leather, Audi Navigation Plus was added to the infotainment system, which also received a 12-speaker B&O premium audio system upgrade with 465-watt output power, and parking sensors front and rear and a rearview camera joined the safety kit list. Both the V8 and V10 models could be had in coupe or convertible (Spyder) body styles, with the V10 Spyder being available since 2010, and the V8 Spyder joining the range in 2011.

V10 5.2 FSI Plus quattro
2014 - 2015
5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10
Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

If the Audi R8 V10 wasn't quite exciting enough for your taste, the facelift brought along a new range-topping R8 with a Plus added to its name. It's more than just a rebadging exercise, because the engineers went to town to squeeze yet more power out of the 5.2-liter V10, shaved weight off the car wherever possible, and retuned the suspension for even better on-track handling. This model was only available with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and only with the coupe body style.

The R8 V10 Plus didn't add anything in terms of comfort features, and actually lost some of the normal V10's equipment - the audio system reverted to the V8's seven-speaker setup, for example, and seat adjustment lost the electric operation. Further weight savings were achieved by fitting standard carbon-ceramic brakes, reducing the cabin's noise insulation, and extensive use of carbon fiber for the exterior trimmings. This meticulous attention to detail resulted in a weight saving of 132 lb compared to the normal R8 V10, and the engine's power was bumped to 570 hp to drop the dash from standstill to 62 mph to only 3.2 seconds.

2012 - 2012
5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10
Six-speed manual

Starting with the R8 V10 as its base, the limited-edition R8 GT featured the V10 Plus engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Its main reason for existing was to facilitate competition in sports car racing, so the R8 GT was stripped down to become as light as the engineers could make it, saving 220 pounds in the process. Only 333 coupes and 333 Spyders were produced, of which 90 coupes and 50 Spyders made their way to the US.

2015 - 2015
5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10
Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

This is the ultimate first-generation Audi R8 as well as one of the most exclusive, with the strongest engine and the usual weight-saving measures applied to fit its range-topping status. Only 60 R8 Competitions were made and sold in the US through Audi Exclusive, allowing buyers a high degree of customization.

Apart from matte carbon-fiber exterior trim, the Competition's only real visual enhancements over the R8 V10 Plus are the illuminated sill plates (optional on the normal models), but the Competition does boast an extra 20 hp over the V10 Plus, making it the most powerful car Audi had ever built up to that time, and the fastest R8, full stop. The 0-62 mph dash is dispatched in a claimed 3.2 seconds, but road tests often returned even quicker acceleration times.

First Gen Audi R8 Features

4.2 V8 quattro5.2 V10 plus quattro5.2 V10 GT quattro5.2 V10 competition quattro5.2 V10 quattro
Auxiliary Audio InputOSSSO
Back-Up CameraOSSSS
Bluetooth ConnectionSSSSS
Brake AssistSSN/ASS
Climate ControlSSSSS
Cruise ControlSSSSS
Driver Air BagSSSSS
Front Head Air BagSN/ASN/AS
Front Side Air BagSSSSS
Heated Front Seat(s)SSSSS
Keyless EntrySSSSS
Knee Air BagSSSSS
Navigation SystemOOSOO
Passenger Air BagSSSSS
Power Driver SeatSOSOS
Power Mirror(s)OSSSS
Power Passenger SeatSOSOS
Premium Sound SystemOOOOS
Rear Parking AidOSSSS
Remote Trunk ReleaseSSSSS
Satellite RadioSSSSS
Stability ControlSSSSS
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsSSSSS
Tire Pressure MonitorSSSSS
Traction ControlSSSSS
Universal Garage Door OpenerSSSSS

Interior, Trim And Practicality

Audi R8 Coupe 1st Gen Interior Overview Audi
2014-2015 R8 1st Gen Facelift Interior View

A nice interior has become an Audi hallmark through the years, and the R8's cabin continues this tradition. The layout is simple but attractive, and most of the key controls are within easy reach of the driver. But, while the build and material quality is customarily excellent, the MMI interface controller is mounted vertically on the center console, which, combined with the stretch necessary to reach it, doesn't aid its already patchy user-friendliness.

Apart from the infotainment interface being clunky to operate, there's nothing about which either driver or passenger could complain, because there's plenty of cabin space for an R8's two occupants. Headroom of 37.7 inches is on the tight side of comfortable, but considering the 1st-gen Audi R8's low-slung profile, it's surprisingly generous, and is made to feel like more by the very low seating position. 54.8 inches of shoulder room is likewise on the snug side, but compares fairly well to most compact sedans.

The luggage volume is another story, though, with only 6.7 cu.ft. of available cargo space - the Audi R8 is clearly not a cross-country touring car, unless you forget the passenger at home and use their seat for additional luggage storage. The 23.8-gallon fuel tank is handy, however, and should stretch intervals between feeding those rather thirsty engines to acceptable levels.

4.2 V8 quattro5.2 V10 plus quattro5.2 V10 GT quattro5.2 V10 competition quattro5.2 V10 quattro
Bucket SeatsSSSSS
Leather SeatsOSN/ASS
Leather Steering WheelOSOSO
Premium Synthetic SeatsSSN/ASN/A
Black, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Limestone Gray, Leather seating surfacesN/AN/AN/AN/AS
Luxor Beige, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Tuscan Brown, Leather seating surfacesN/AN/AN/AN/AS
Red, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Black, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASN/A
Black, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Black/Diamond Stitching, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/AN/AS
Titanium Gray, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Titanium Gray, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Luxor Beige, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Luxor Beige, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Nougat Brown, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Nougat Brown, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Lunar Silver, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Lunar Silver, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Red, Alcantara Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Red, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Black/Beige Stitching, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Black/Red Stitching, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Black/Nougat Brown Stitch, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Blk/Madras Orange Stitch, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Black w/Dark Silver Sttch, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSSN/ASS
Titanium Gry w/Gry Sttch, Fine Nappa Leather Seat TrimSN/AN/AN/AS
Titanium Gray, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Lunar Silver, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Nougat Brown, Leather seating surfacesSN/AN/AN/AS
Black, Leather/Alcantara seating surfaces w/Crimson Red stitchingN/AN/ASN/AN/A
Black, Leather/Alcantara seating surfaces w/Signal Orange stitchingN/AN/ASN/AN/A
Black, Leather/Alcantara seating surfaces w/Titanium Gray stitchingN/AN/ASN/AN/A

2008-2015 Audi R8 Maintenance and Cost

In contrast to most other sports cars, the first gen Audi R8 doesn't have a particularly onerous servicing schedule. In fact, its service requirements are much the same as any other Audi, although the labor charges to perform certain tasks will be much higher due to the engine being mounted in the middle of the car, hindering access.

The engine oil and its filter needs to be changed every 5,000 miles, and we advise owners to religiously stick to this interval. Manual transmissions (and the mechanically related R-Tronic automated manual) generally don't need fluid changes and don't present any transmission problems on 2008-2015 Audi R8 models, but on 2014 and 2015 R8s with the S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission (DSG), we'd recommend transmission-fluid and -filter changes every 30,000 miles to avoid transmission problems in the longer term.

Spark plugs should be good for 55,000 miles, and the engine's air filters (there are two) have the same recommended replacement interval. However, if an R8 frequently encounters dusty or otherwise-extreme conditions, engine air filter replacement intervals should be halved The same applies to the cabin air filter, which is supposed to last 15,000 miles, but will need attention more frequently if it often takes in dusty air.

Seeing as both V8 and V10 engines employ timing chains, there are no timing belts to consider for replacement, but the serpentine ancillary drive belt should at least be inspected every 15,000 miles, and replaced as soon as hairline cracks in their rubber coating start to appear. Brake fluid must be replaced every two years, regardless of distance covered. Few independent shops will likely have the expertise to work on one of these exotics and maintenance costs will be predictably expensive if you're doing it at an Audi dealership - which you should do to prevent expensive failures and to preserve the car's resale value. Major services will cost several thousand dollars.

First Generation R8 Basic Service

The Audi R8 V8 needs 10.6 quarts (10 liters) of full-synthetic 5W-40 oil, which should cost between $144 and $185, including a new OEM oil filter. Interestingly, the V10 has a smaller oil capacity at only 8.8 quarts, making its oil changes less expensive than those of the V8; expect to pay between $132 and $173 to replace the oil and its filter on an Audi R8 V10.

Air-filter elements are not interchangeable between the V8 and V10 engines, but they both cost around $70 each from an Audi dealership. This totals about $140 in total per air-filter change, excluding labor, because each engine uses two air filters. Both engines do use the same spark plugs, making for a spark-plug replacement operation costing roughly $128 for the V8, and about $160 for the V10, excluding labor. This is assuming, of course, that you attempt the basic service as a DIY job, which we wouldn't recommend.

First Audi R8 Tires

5.2 V10 quattro
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 8.5"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 11.0"
4.2 V8 quattro
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 8.5"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 11.0"
5.2 V10 GT quattro
Front Tire Size:
235/35R19 91Y
Front Wheel Size:
19" x TBD
Rear Tire Size:
295/30R19 100Y
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x TBD
5.2 V10 plus quattro
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 8.5"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 11"
5.2 V10 competition quattro
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 8.5"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 11"

Check Before You Buy

The only recall pertaining to the first generation Audi R8 involves 2011 and 2012 models with either engine, where a fuel-supply line could chafe against a heat shield in the engine bay. This could result in a fuel leak, and increase the risk of an engine fire.

Audi R8 First-Generation Common Problems

Problems Common To Both V8 and V10 Engines

Carbon buildup is a common issue with direct-injected engines, and the Audi V8 and V10 engines are no exceptions. Because the injectors spray directly into the combustion chamber, there isn't a fuel mist traveling down the intake ports to keep the intake valves clean. Oil vapors are constantly being introduced to the intake system by the positive crankcase valve (PCV), and after enough time, these oil droplets will start collecting on the intake-port walls and intake valves, eventually choking the airflow into the engine to the extent that efficiency and performance are drastically reduced. The resulting carbon buildup can be cleaned by removing the intake manifold and blasting the intake ports with walnut shells, but this is a time-consuming and potentially expensive job, due to the engine location.

Carbon buildup leads to another common issue, because the built-up gunk may interfere with the proper function of the tumble-generation flaps in the intake manifold. These flaps have their own reliability downsides, however, because their plastic actuating levers could fail and trigger limp mode from the ECU, or the screws which locate the flaps on their shafts could come loose, fall down the intake ports, and proceed to destroy the engine.

There are two solutions here, and both of them are best applied when performing a carbon clean: You could simply "de-flap" the engine by removing the flaps and their shafts completely, block off the shaft bushings with plastic plugs, and never worry about them again. The only real downside to this approach is that the idle quality will be slightly less smooth, but this operation may also cause problems when testing the emissions-control system. Ask a knowledgeable mechanic if this will be the case in your state.

The correct way to fix the tumble-flap issue is by dismantling the flap system, replacing the actuating levers with metal parts, and re-fastening the tumble-flap screws using heavy-duty thread-locking compound. Either way, this operation should be added to the to-do list when the first carbon clean is performed.

Excessive oil consumption is another issue with both the V8 and V10 engines, but are often caused by defective PCV valves. However, these are very high-revving engines which usually drink some oil between services, especially when subjected to hard driving. If the oil consumption exceeds a quart every 600 miles and the PCV valve is working as it should, this would, unfortunately, require an engine rebuild to remedy.

Fuel-injector failure is another risk with these high-revving, high-compression engines. Because the fuel injector's tip is exposed to the combustion chamber's extreme temperatures and loads of vibration, simple metal fatigue could eventually result in the injector tip shattering, sending metal debris into the combustion chamber and leading to total engine failure. Once again, attend to this issue with every carbon clean operation.

Ignition coils are a frequent failure point on high-revving engines, but are easy enough to rectify. However, if one coil gives out, the other won't be far behind, so rather replace them all as a set when the time comes.

Mileage: PCV valves can let go any time from 50,000 miles, and carbon buildup will become noticeable around that time as well. Fuel injectors could fail from around 75,000 miles, and ignition coils have been known to fail from 45,000 miles.

Cost: PCV valves cost around $200 for the V8 and roughly $138 for aftermarket replacements, excluding labor charges for fitment. Carbon cleaning will cost up to $1,400 due to the engine location, and replacement injectors will set you back about $200 each at the dealership. De-flapping the intake system will cost about $40 in plastic blanking plugs. OEM coils for both engines cost about $50 each.

How to spot: Leaking PCV valves will cause reduced performance and rough running, as will sticking tumble flaps, and fuel-injector failure will likely first manifest as a misfire that new spark plugs and coil can't remedy. Carbon buildup will cause reduced engine performance and increased fuel consumption. Coil-pack failure will make itself known by misfires and an illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL).

Timing Chain Failure

While both the V10 and V8 employ chain-driven camshafts, the V8 has a solid reputation for chain dependability in the RS4, while the V10 does not have that positive reputation in any of the cars in which it is used. Indeed, it appears that the V10's timing chain hardware isn't up to the standard of the V8's chain setup, which makes it a potential engine-killer. It's likely that the V10 engine's raised rev limiter at 8,800 rpm could put undue strain on the timing chains, but the reality is that even the lower-revving V10s as used in some Audi sedans are prone to timing-chain failure.

There are multiple reasons why an R8 V10's cam chain could fail, with tensioner malfunctions being one of the main contributing factors. If the oil passages to the tensioners get blocked or if a seal in a tensioner fails, the chain could lose enough tension to skip teeth and resulting in catastrophic valve-to-piston contact. Alternatively, the tensioner guides, which are made of plastic, could fail and cause the same disaster. Finally, the chains themselves (there are three) could elongate due to wear over time, eventually lengthening to the point where the tensioners cannot keep the chains tight enough, again resulting in skipped teeth and an extremely large repair bill.

Mileage: It is believed that timing-chain failure could occur as early as 50,000 miles in hard-driven cars, or even sooner if the oil-change protocol isn't followed to the letter.

Cost: An OEM timing-chain replacement kit costs around $4,000, with about as much in labor charges for fitment. That's still an order of magnitude cheaper than a complete replacement V10 engine from Audi, though.

How to spot: A rattling noise from the V10 engine upon a cold start, soon followed by a ticking noise when the engine is up to temperature, uneven running, and possible CEL illumination. Eventually, the engine won't start at all, because its internals are destroyed due to valve-to-piston contact.

Suspension Problems

The Audi R8 has always been praised for its sublime combination of sure-footed handling, flat cornering, and ride comfort, and that is all due to the clever magnetic dampers. They function by energizing an electromagnet mounted around the shock absorber, which is filled with magnetic particles. Depending on the strength of the magnetic field, the tiny particles in the oil line up in different ways, effectively changing the viscosity of the damper fluid.

Unfortunately, the shocks fitted to the Audi R8 tend to start leaking prematurely, leading to a loss of both damping control and comfort. And, given the fact that Audi charges up to $2,500 per shock absorber, it's understandable that some owners simply give up on the magnetic dampers and fit conventional variable-rate shock absorbers instead.

This will cost a lot less than remaining with the OEM items, but won't be able to match the standard arrangement's mix of control and comfort. Interestingly, Audi themselves dropped the magnetic shocks from the R8 V10 Plus in the interest of weight saving, but that also means that the R8 V10 Plus is the only one to not have standard-issue suspension failures.

Mileage: Some owners have reported failed shock absorbers as early as 7,000 miles, but most last up to 40,000 miles. Either way, the shock absorbers will become a major maintenance area comparatively early in an R8's life.

Cost: Replacement OEM shock absorbers cost up to $2,500 each, while a complete set of aftermarket shocks could be had for about the price of one standard item.

How to spot: Oil leaking from the shock absorbers, poor body control over bumps, rattling, and/or thumping noises from the suspension over uneven surfaces.

Less Common Problems And Problem-Free Areas

Some owners have reported problems with the Audi R8's electro-hydraulic power steering systems, and most of them relate to leaking power-steering hoses. It's worth taking off the front undertray to inspect the hydraulic lines of this system every 30,000 miles or so, just to check for any fluid leaks - those owners who reported 2008-2015 Audi R8 power steering problems all noted that it's impossible to spot such a leak with the tray in place.

There are also reports of 2008-2015 Audi R8 radio problems, which seem to originate from the rear bumper-mounted aerial. This problem is especially noted with 2008 and 2009 model years, which had a different aerial design to the 2010+ models. Windshield-seal molding leaks have also been reported, but this appears to be related to incorrect fitment of replacement windshields, and there was no 2008-2015 Audi R8 windshield-molding recall notice issued.

Which One To Avoid

There isn't really a bad first-generation Audi R8, but the least desirable is probably a pre-facelift V8 model with the R-Tronic transmission. The manual transmission is such a joy to operate and the R-Tronic is so uncooperative in normal operation, that it doesn't really make sense to settle for second-best. Early model years are also likely to be more trouble-prone, so a 2008-2009 Audi R8 V8 R-Tronic is probably going to be one to avoid.

Which One To Buy

If your budget can stretch to a 2015 Audi R8 Competition, that will undoubtedly be the one to get - if you can find one! The same applies to the super-rare R8 GT models, most of which have by now been snatched up by enthusiasts and collectors. In the real world, a normal Audi R8 V10 will be the nicest to have, with whichever transmission you prefer. Seeing as the 2014-2015 R8 V10 offered the excellent S-Tronic dual-clutch automatic, one of those will be the best choice for those who don't want to change their own gears.

1st gen Audi R8 Verdict

Even with its potentially troublesome standard suspension, the first-generation Audi R8 is likely as close to being a fuss-free sports car as anyone could imagine. It's impractical from a cargo-carrying perspective, but in all respects, the Audi R8 really is a supercar which can be daily-driven. And, seeing as there won't be a third-generation R8 (the second-generation model is currently in its run-out phase), any R8 is likely to become collectable in the near future. Choose one with a complete service and maintenance history and then keep your hand on it, and you'll enjoy many years of genuine supercar experiences while your asset is appreciating in value. That's a win-win situation in anyone's books.

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