The Daily Drivers: 2017 Audi R8 Coupe

2017 Audi R8 Coupe
2017 Audi R8 Coupe
Published Sep. 29, 2016

We often get asked a variation on this question: If you won the lottery, what car would you buy? For Peter, the answer is easy: Audi's R8. Lyra wouldn't mind one either. With a starting price of $162,900, we'd need that winning ticket to afford the supercar. (Still, the R8 is a bargain compared with its corporate cousin, the Lamborghini Huracán, which starts at $237K.) So why all the R8 love?

Appearance: Even though the 2017 model has been "redesigned," it still hasn't changed much since the car was introduced a decade ago. Some critics say it's beginning to look dated, but we think the Audi has aged well despite the incremental changes. (There was no 2016 model.) Unlike the Batmobile-like Lambo, the R8 has a whiff of understatement despite its muscular low stance, carbon-fiber "side blades" and large hexagonal honeycombed grille. Still, our favorite feature of the midengine car is rather showy. It's the glass-covered rear hatch that allows you to see the V-10 nestled under an X-brace in the carbon-fiber engine compartment. We also like that the retractable spoiler doesn't ruin the car's lines like the fixed spoiler on the higher-horsepower R8 V10 Plus. Our R8's Ibis White paint was set off nicely by optional 20-inch Y-design, silver-finished forged wheels with red brake calipers.

Performance: Start with a space-frame chassis that increases rigidity while reducing weight. The 5.2-liter V-10 is naturally aspirated and puts out 540 horsepower, which may not seem like a lot in this era of 600- to 700-plus supercars, but it's plenty for a street car, especially with its 8,700-rpm redline. The V-10 Plus kicks up the power to 610 horsepower. The midengine placement and the Quattro AWD help the R8's overall balance, giving it agile handling. The response of the Dynamic Steering is precise and immediate, and the brakes are more than up to the challenge of slowing the car. Sadly, a manual transmission is no longer available. (The R8 once had a gated manual gearbox that was sublime.) Now you'll have to make do with a quick-shifting 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission, which is not such a bad substitute. When you go hard on the accelerator, the V-10 awakens with a roar. The R8 also has Audi Drive Select, which allows you to adjust its ride — from comfort to performance. One of the R8's many amazing qualities is how composed and driveable it is in everyday commuting — not something you can say about a lot of performance cars.

Interior: The new driver-centric cabin features Audi's "Virtual Cockpit," which moves the 12.3-inch configurable infotainment display from the center console to the instrument panel behind the steering wheel. The result is an uncluttered cabin with just the AC vents and three digital button/dial controls on the dash. The display is controlled by Audi's MMI Touch, a rotary controller on the lower console. The dial is topped with a pad that recognizes your handwriting for commands. Also cool: our R8's Express Red interior, which made for a sexy contrast to the white exterior. The Nappa leather sport seats are nicely bolstered with integrated headrests and diamond-patterned stitching. Even the Alcantara headliner has the same luxurious diamond stitching. The interior also has Carbon Sigma Matte inlay trim.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Triple threat: Tech, luxury, performance. It delivers on all three.

Cockpit layout: The "Virtual Cockpit" puts everything in the driver's view.

Display: I love the V-10 under glass.

Lyra Solochek

Carbon everywhere: Carbon-fiber "side blades" and engine compartment, $5,600. Carbon inside, add $3,400.

Red cabin: The bright red Nappa leather in the cabin is stunning.

Extension of the driver: Quick reaction, precise steering, plenty of power.

The bottom line: Our favorite sports car keeps on getting better. It's time to get another lottery ticket . . .