Since its debut for the 2008 model year, the Audi R8 has captivated the hearts of drivers and the public alike. With its rear-biased all-wheel drive, nearly telepathic responsiveness, lightweight aluminum-intensive construction and exotic pseudo-futuristic design, the R8 is the brand's first proper halo car for the United States. Of course, it hasn't hurt that the supercar has had a co-starring role in the Iron Man movie franchise as well.
At the core of every 2014 Audi R8 is a highly tuned V8 or V10 engine. While neither engine's output is exceptional for this class of car, they both sound exceptional and drive all four wheels through the R8's standard AWD system. One very positive development this year is the new "S tronic" dual-clutch automated manual transmission option. It replaces the car's previous "R tronic" single-clutch automated manual, which was notorious for its rough-shifting nature. Fortunately, Audi still offers a traditional manual transmission for those who still like to row gears old-school style.
No matter who's doing the shifting, we've always loved how the Audi R8 drives. The engine's midship placement enhances the R8's responsiveness and visceral nature, and the steering, which is still hydraulic-assisted, provides great feel and responsiveness. Mostly, though, the R8 distinguishes itself from past and present supercars by providing all of this excellent performance without the sacrifices that other ultrahigh-performance cars require. Specifically, the R8 offers decent ride comfort, good outward visibility and comfortable seats. It's a supercar you can drive every day if you so desire.
Of course, there are some drawbacks, and they apply to the entire 2014 R8 lineup. Cargo space is limited, making the R8 a poor choice for a long road trip. And although Audi made a variety of changes this year, upgrading the car's electronics interface was unfortunately not one of them. As such, the outdated navigation system interface will have you pining for Audi's newer electronics suite.
Even with these drawbacks, the 2014 Audi R8 still shines brightly among exotic cars, including the ones that cost tens of thousands more. And keep in mind, there isn't a loser in this rarefied class. Whether you're shopping it against such comparatively affordable models as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, 2014 Nissan GT-R or 2014 Porsche 911, or higher-end exotics such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo, McLaren MP4-12C and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the R8 holds its own. It would be an appealing addition to any garage.