Audi was well ahead of the curve back in 2006 when it launched the sensationally beautiful and technologically advanced R8, so even after six years in showrooms, the company’s flagship sports car still seems fresh and fearsome. Of course, during that time Audi introduced a V-10-powered model and the lightweight GT, not to mention the gorgeous drop-top Spyder. At last, however, the time has come for a bumper-to-bumper makeover, and that’s just what the R8 gets for 2013. Changes are subtle but meaningful, ensuring that Audi’s masterpiece won’t be wearing out its welcome any time soon.
All versions of the 2013 R8 feature sharply revised full-LED headlights set within a reshaped front bumper and grille. A bigger diffuser and a pair of broad circular tailpipes define the redesigned rear end. Behind the cockpit rumbles a 430 hp V-8, a 525 hp V-10, or, for the new range-topping V10 Plus model, a 550 hp V-10. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but this year Audi introduces a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic called S tronic. It replaces the unloved R tronic 6-speed sequential manual gearbox and promises to make automatic R8s both smoother and quicker; Audi claims the S tronic cars will hit 60 mph three-tenths of a second quicker than cars with the manual transmission.
The revised R8 models aren’t expected to reach U.S. showrooms until early next year (pricing is forthcoming). In the meantime, however, Audi has devised a rather compelling sendoff for the current model. The 2012 R8 Exclusive Selection, available only as a coupe, with either the V-8 or V-10 engine, features a host of racy enhancements, including Daytona Gray matte exterior paint (on the V-8), handsome 19-inch wheels, carbon fiber front splitter and rear diffuser, red brake calipers, and taillamps from the R8 GT. Inside, there’s new leather (black with red for the V-8, black with white for the V-10), a thick new steering wheel, carbon fiber trim pieces, and the superlative Bang & Olufsen audio system. (audiusa.com)