Audi R8 Takes Last Laps at Monterey Car Week as Brand Continues to Bring Electric Performance to Road and Track

  • 2023 marks final model year of production for the Audi R8 and its naturally aspirated V10 engine
  • R8 GT3 won every major endurance race and shares more than 50 percent of its parts with the road car
  • The supercar earned leading roles in more than twenty box office blockbuster movies
  • Audi Sport continues next era of performance with innovative electric and combustion models as well as Formula 1 racing by 2026

HERNDON, VA – The storied Audi R8 took its final laps last week in celebration of its 15 years in the United States and as one of the premier super cars of its time. Since its launch in the U.S. in 2008, the brand halo and pinnacle of performance for Audi achieved iconic status both on and off the track, winning the World Performance Car of the Year in 2008 and in 2016 as well as proving its authenticity on the track by winning every major endurance race around the world. The R8 continues the Audi strategy of proving its race technologies on the track and bringing those technologies to the road. That same strategy will be brought to bear as the brand shifts toward electrified performance with its entry to Formula 1 in 2026.

Born on the track
Audi has always been known for bringing race car technology to the road. In the late 1970s, the Audi racing program was set up to dominate the rally circuit with quattro on the dirt. By the early 1990s, Audi also took the drivers’ title in the IMSA GTO/Trans-Am series on tarmac. Both series banned quattro as it was seen as an unfair advantage. Audi’s relentless pursuit of winning would also become prevalent in Le Mans – collecting 13 overall wins and later in Formula E, as the most successful team to date. In 2009, Audi developed a car for its first customer racing program with the introduction of the Audi R8 GT3 LMS.

No other production car from Audi has been closer to racing than the R8 – the car’s namesake even comes from the championship winning R8 LMP prototype racecar that dominated the 24 Hours Le Mans with five consecutive wins between 2000 and 2005. The R8 LMP racecar established the brand’s legacy in the world of endurance racing and paved the way for the R8 road car.

The Audi Sport R8 LMP Le Mans motorsports effort provided engineers and designers an ideal canvas to put the Audi brand’s ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ ethos into practice – incorporating technologies proven on the track, such as FSI (direct injection) engine technology and LED lighting into its road cars.

In celebration of the brand’s dominance in endurance racing, Audi tasked its design team with the creation of the Le Mans quattro concept, a model which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. The concept was so well received, production plans were finalized. The Audi R8 road car debuted later in 2006 at the Paris Motor Show and went on sale in the U.S. in 2008. “There had never been a concept like this in the brand’s history; there were no role models”, said R8 concept and first generation R8 production car designer, Frank Lamberty.

The introduction of the R8 road car proved to be an incredibly competitive architecture from which Audi could carry the torch of endurance racing. Over the course of 15 years of road car production, Audi introduced homologated track-only GT2, GT3, and GT4 versions of its eponymous supercar and discovered incredible success campaigning the car. The three models offered drivers various levels of access to a proven race formula powered by an incredibly durable and potent V10 engine.

The R8 LMS GT3 garnered success in every major endurance race around the world including triumphant victories for multiple teams, drivers, and manufacturer championships – including winning the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, as well as the Nürburgring 24 Hour race six times.

Built for the road
The R8 distinctly carries the genes of a genuine racecar. Both the road and race car share the same specialized, hand-assembled production line, and just over 50 percent of production-series parts find their way into the R8 GT3 LMS racecar. The remaining 50 percent difference is accounted for by specialized safety equipment and powertrain enhancements.

In fact, the R8 road car shares a nearly identical naturally aspirated 5.2L FSI V10 engine with the R8 LMS racecar engine; the two powertrains were developed in parallel with only specific regulation adjustments made on the racecar. The engine produces an unmistakable tone that echoes up to its maximum redline of 8,700 rpm.

Following the art of form and function, the original R8 would show case its championship pedigree by presenting 24 daytime running light LEDs in total (12 in each headlamp) – celebrating its 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with the prototype race car. The LED front running lights would prove not only as a key safety feature, but would represent an identity and progressive design. The R8’s LED front running lights flanked an evolved version of the single frame grille, while the rear incorporated a muscular diffuser with large air outlets and flat rear taillights.

The R8 road car embodies a commitment to engineering and manufacturing expertise by incorporating innovative materials such as aircraft grade aluminum in the frame and body panels. Building on the Audi Space Frame first introduced on the third generation A8 flagship sedan, the R8 introduced a multi-material mix with up to three different lightweight materials optimizing performance, rigidity, and efficiency.

The mid-engine design of both the concept and subsequent R8 road car also presented a unique opportunity for the development of an entirely different design language due to the technical layout of the engine. “A mid-engine sports car is something very special again because the technical layout, the position of the engine, results in a completely different design language”, said Frank Lamberty. Designers worked with engineers to ensure the architecture was functional and befitting of a car that would represent a German mid-engine super car. Despite its unique mid-engine layout, both LED daytime running lights and multi-material frames found in the R8 made their way into the next generation of front-engine Audi models.

Leading roles on the silver screen
The R8 served as a watershed moment for the Audi brand kicking off a new brand strategy with its super car as well as more mainstream models. In 2008, Audi would be one of the first European premium manufacturers to advertise during the big game with its “Godfather” TV spot. The advertisement introduced the first R8 to America, putting “old luxury” on notice and underlining Audi’s position as a challenger brand at the time. Since then, the brand ascended to match its luxury rivals in awareness and purchase consideration.

In May 2008, Audi joined forces with one of the largest motion picture studios that would soon turn the R8 into a pop culture icon. The R8 earned a leading role in the action-packed superhero trilogy as the lead character vehicle of choice and suited the super hero guise well.

The movie franchise also helped usher in other important R8 milestones – the sequel saw the global debut of the highly anticipated R8 Spyder playing the role of the movie star’s newest ride. The R8 would resurface in a subsequent cameo providing the audience a glimpse of the all-new second generation R8 – leaving the audience on the edge of their seats for more.

With its integration into the franchise, the R8 played the role model and superhero for teenagers and enthusiasts alike; pinned on bedroom walls throughout the world. The iconic R8 enjoyed a “dream car” status for many enthusiasts, and would later have its time on the silver screen with some of Hollywood’s top list actors – landing several other starring roles on the big screen in more than twenty box office hits and TV shows. In 2016, the R8 would play a role once again in the big game in an award winning TV spot called “Commander”.

Electric performance on track and on the road
Within the next three years, Audi’s lineup is planned to see a significant shift towards electrification. The brand will usher in a new era of mobility, underscoring its commitment to a more sustainable future while continuing to offer vehicles that are engaging and exciting to drive; proving performance is an attitude that can be electric or combustion powered.

Audi plans to launch more than 20 models globally by 2026, approximately half of which will be fully electric. From 2026 onwards, it’s intended that every all-new model introduced from Audi will be fully electric and its entire portfolio will be fully electric as of 2033. Audi Sport models will include fully electric and hybrid powered vehicles, but also what are likely to be considered among the best combustion models ever.

Audi history and philosophy have always been about pushing the limits of technology, performance, and design on road and race tracks around the world. It began with leveraging quattro in rally racing and continued with Le Mans. The R8 continued this strategy through its close lineage to the R8 GT 3. Going forward Audi will continue to race with its first-ever entry in Formula 1 beginning in 2026. Audi performance will continue to play a central role in defining the Audi brand for customers to enjoy both on track and on road.

At Audi of America, we believe the future is electric. By 2025, our U.S. model lineup will be at least 30 percent electrified, including fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Globally, we are committed to net CO2 neutrality by 2050. In 2022, Audi sold 186,875 vehicles in the U.S., sold more fully electric models than ever before, and achieved a record-breaking year in after sales. Learn more about who we are and how we’re working to create a more sustainable, innovative, and inclusive future at or

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