With Audi currently working on the replacement for the R8, I got to thinking. What car in its segment does the R8 most compete with? Well, it isn’t the BMW M6 or the Mercedes AMG GT as those are sporty GT cars, whereas the R8 is a supercar. An argument can be made that the Porsche 911 is its natural competitor, but again, the 911 is a sports car, not a supercar. The R8 is the epitome of a supercar. It can be had with a V10, it’s mid-engined, has no back seat, it hits 60 mph in the low 3 seconds and can get quite close to the big 200 mph mark. That, basically, is the definition of a supercar.
Ferrari’s and Lambo’s technically compete, but they are far too expensive to be cross-shopped and compared. So what would compete with this new R8 when it finally graces our roads?
The only car I can think of is the BMW i8. In my mind, at least, the i8 is a supercar. It has technology no other car under a million dollars has, it’s made mostly from carbon-fiber, it’s all-wheel drive and it’s mid-engined. Actually, the i8 is even more exotic than the R8. The R8 is quite simple and plain in comparison. But they do match up quite evenly in terms of performance.
This will be quite an exciting matchup, when the new R8 finally debuts. Considering the new R8 will most likely be powered exclusively by a V10 and a twin-clutch gearbox, this battle would be between brains and brawn. The i8 with its lightweight construction, hybrid technology and sophisticated, computer controlled all-wheel drive system up against the R8 with its mighty V10 and considerable power advantage.
That’s the beauty of this match up, though. Both are supercars built by companies at the top of their games. But they take extremely different approaches to how they make their performance. Would the i8’s weight advantage and instant torque-fill from its electric motors be enough to defeat the R8’s furious V10 and Quattro AWD? To be honest, no. The current R8 is much faster than the i8 in a straight line, and I can only assume the new one will be faster still. The i8’s torque-fill and lower weight might cause it to be faster in the twisties, but you must remember, the R8 is no slouch when the road gets curvy either.
Maybe if BMW creates some sort of i8S, it could defeat the R8, in terms of performance. But even if BMW decides not to make a faster, stripped out version, I think I would still prefer the i8. The i8 may be slower and, though it has yet to be seen, might not handle as well, but the i8 changes the way we think about cars, and isn’t that what supercars are supposed to do? It’s something fresh and unique.
So while I can’t wait for the new R8 to be release, I still think the i8 will be reigning king.