Audi has revealed the refreshed 2013 R8 and the changes, though minor, nicely update what is one of our favorite sports cars. It may not be readily apparent, but the R8 recently celebrated its fifth birthday—its aggressive-yet-spare styling has aged well. To that end, Audi didn’t mess much with the mid-engine, all-wheel-drive R8’s basic cosmetic goodness. The company also didn’t do much with the mechanicals, including the wonderful V-8 and V-10 engines, although there is a new dual-clutch automatic available.
The LED Pioneer
Even though Audi has yet to release U.S.-specific information, the updates announced by Audi Europe will carry over to the R8 we get here. The cosmetic changes include new LED headlights and taillights, as well as a tweaked front fascia and grille. The new headlights are full-LED units that incorporate Audi’s latest LED accent strip in place of the old car’s bedazzled eyelashes, which consisted of individual light-emitting diodes. Audi also fitted the R8 with the latest take on its iconic single-frame grille, which features beveled upper corners for more pizazz. The outer front intakes get new accents to match the tweaked grille.
The R8’s taillights now light up with a pulse of light that runs from the inside to the outside. We must say that these fancy flashers have us as excited as we’ve ever been about blinkers, and we look forward to seeing them in action. Audi previewed this lighting trick on the LED-tastic A2 concept at last year’s Frankfurt auto show. For the closest real-life analogue to these fancy blinkers, think of the sequenced rear-indicator lamps on Ford’s Mustang and you’re pretty much there.
New Transmission, New Trim Level, Same Engines
The R8’s 430-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 and 525-hp, 5.2-liter V-10 engines both carry over for 2013. The much-beloved, gated six-speed manual transmission also survives—though a stick option won’t make it to the next-gen R8. Audi is swapping last year’s R tronic single-clutch six-speed automatic for a new S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The new transmission will no doubt be smoother than the old, track-oriented R tronic unit, which tended to be balky on the street.
We’re quite pleased both engines and a choice in transmission will continue to be offered for 2013: We’ve tested and liked pretty much every current variation of the R8, from the 4.2 Spyder all the way up to the5.2 coupe; we also have driven—and slept in—the track-ready GT coupe.
There is a new trim level for 2013 called the V10 Plus, but so far it’s only been confirmed for Europe. On paper, the Plus sounds a lot like the current-gen, limited-production R8 GT. The Plus gets a more powerful version of the regular R8’s V-10, upping output to 550 hp; specially tuned springs and dampers; as well as aero and styling upgrades. That’s just 10 fewer ponies than you got in the outgoing GT; the new trim level eschews the GT’s wild rear wing and hard-core, track-focused theme.
The 2013 Audi R8 goes on sale later this year in Europe, and U.S. availability shouldn’t lag too far behind. We suspect the freshened R8 will make an appearance at an auto show soon—most likely in Paris this fall—but Audi hasn’t yet confirmed an official debut. View Photo Gallery